Drew Doughty may be a talent (and fairly established) defenseman in the game today but it certainly doesn't give him any special treatment. Sure, Doughty's status as a restricted free agent gives him every right to turn down any contract offer and hold out for more money. However, with training camp set to begin tomorrow, general manager Dean Lombardi has taken another approach.
A report on TSN.ca this afternoon indicated that Doughty will lose as much as $25,000 for each day of training camp he is unsigned - perhaps even longer. Some may feel that the Los Angeles Kings are the ones losing this battle but, in my mind, it's good 'ol #8 that will find himself find a losing battle sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately for Drew Doughty, the NHL is in a salary cap-era, which means that, as much as many teams would love the services of a bona fide defenseman, they realistically just cannot afford to put an offer sheet forward for his services. None of the other 29 teams (at any point) have offered Drew Doughty an offer and, barring a major injury to a defenseman earning $7 million or more this season, that will not change. Perhaps Doughty would like to tamper with the skate blade of one Chris Pronger?
It may sound a little vindictive but desperate times do call for desperate measures and perhaps Dean Lombardi would like to consider following in the path of fellow countryman Brian Burke who, as the GM of the Vancouver Canucks in the late-90's, took the holdout of star Pavel Bure with a grain of salt and let him sit - and sit some more until finally trading him months later to the Florida Panthers in a move that only made the Canucks better. Along with Kevin Weekes and Dave Gagner, the Canucks acquired Ed Jovanovski, who became arguably the most important piece of a young Vancouver team suddenly on the rise.
Bure's situation, however, was a little different as he, unlike Doughty, was still under contract and decided to hold out himself. Then again, that's an advantage for the Kings as they can simply trade Doughty without having to worry about another team taking on his salary because, well, there is no salary to deal with.
No one knows how the next few days or weeks will play out but if I were Dean Lombardi, I'd let Doughty sit and if he doesn't like that, then he should have taken just one day over the last three months to think about that.
You want to get by on talent alone? Drew Doughty, you don't have enough talent to get by on talent one. The aforementioned Bure had a plethora of talent and look how that turned out. The same thing can be said for Ilya Kovalchuk, Eric Lindros (when he was healthy) and even Jaromir Jagr. Sure, they could carry a team but only for so long. Drew Doughty can't even carry a team like the aforementioned. Am I saying Doughty's like them? No. I'm saying thay, like Doughty, the aforementioned were (and are) immensely talented - but hasn't amounted to very much despite that.
If Drew Doughty doesn't want to sign a new contract, that's fine. The Kings can wait and, in the mean time, the organization is deep enough to fill his spot on the blueline. Any Kings' prospect is dying for the chance to prove themselves at the next level. So, whether it's Jake Muzzin, Thomas Hickey or whoever, should thank Doughty for being so selfish.
I'll end with a quote that was said by Herb Brooks (portrayed by Kurt Russell) in 'Miracle' referring to the Soviet National team:
"All-star teams because they rely solely on the individual's talent. The Soviets win because they take that talent and use it in a system that's designed for the betterment of the team."
Drew Doughty, if you can achieve the latter, I will welcome you back to the Los Angeles Kings with open arms. Until then, you're just another player biting off more than he can chew.