Ken Morrow did it in 1980, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman in 2002 and the trio of Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook did in 2010. The quest to add their names to that lisr is half-done for Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter. When they return to Los Angeles, they will be on a mission to not only help the Kings to their second Cup in three years but to join the aforementioned list of the only players to win Olympic gold and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
As a Canadian, it goes without saying that I am proud of Team Canada on their gold-medal victory today over a deep and talent Team Sweden. Of course, as a longtime supporter of the Los Angeles Kings, I would be remiss if I didn't say how proud I was of the two Canadian players who represented the silver-and-black at these OLympics: Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter.
While Drew Doughty was, for all intents and purposes, a lock for the Canadian Olympic team, Jeff Carter's status was up in the air. As great as Carter has been in the NHL this season, there were plenty of forwards to choose from through the eyes of Team Canada management. Had Carter not been chosen, it wouldn't have been a decision against Carter but instead, an extremely difficult choice picking from Canada's embarrassment of riches if you will.
But Carter was chosen for the Canadian squad and he proved (Canadian GM) Steve Yzerman in addition to making the rest of his native country and fans of the Los Angeles very proud.
Offensively, Jeff Carter's biggest outburst was a natural hat-trick during the preliminary round against Austria. But while doubters would scoff at the prospect of facing a team as limited as the Austrians, Carter nonetheless performed the way no other Canadian had in this tournament. In fact, the only other Canadian to record a multi-goal game was his teammate from Los Angeles, Drew Doughty.
Speaking of which, Doughty scored both goals, including the overtime-winner, against a better Finland team in the preliminary finale. The win (or, more accurately, Doughty's goal) propelled Canada to the quarter-finals with a bye.
While Carter nor Doughty would score again in the tournament, their respective impacts were just as poignant as they were in the preliminaries.
In a very tough test in the quarters against Latvia, Drew Doughty was a workhorse. Like in Los Angeles, he put his offensive attributes on the shelf to sacrifice his body making critical blocks not only keeping the puck out of harm's way but turning the tide in the process. In a game most thought the Canadians would win a rout, the Canadians were deadlocked with the surprise Latvians as the third period passed its halfway point. But the Canadians were not the least bit deterred. Instead, it was Doughty and linemate Shea Weber who worked their magic. Doughty made a perfect pass to Weber who teed up a howitzer, finally putting Canada back out in front where they stayed. The Canadians were off to the semi-final and Drew Doughty was a significant part of the reason why.
While neither King recorded a point in Canada's slim 1-0 win over Team USA in the semis, both Doughty and Carter were forces. Carter created quite a few scoring opportunities not only for himself but for teammates while Doughty helped keep the American onslaught at bay, shutting them out after scoring a tournament-high 20 goals in their first four contests.
In Sunday's gold-medal game, it was more of the same as Doughty was great defensively and even ringed a slapshot off the post. As for Carter, he assisted on the opening goal scored by Jonathan Toews, which ultimately stood as the game- - or, better, the gold-medal-winning - goal.
Unlike in Olympics past, Team Canada weren't the textbook-offensive team they were believed to me - and that was okay. Jeff Carter led all Canadian forwards in goals and points while Drew Doughty led all defensemen in goals.
While I was thrilled for Doughty winning gold four years earlier in Vancouver, there wasn't as significant a contribution from No. 8 as there was this time. While Doughty was definitely important to Canada's win in Vancouver, those Games were, in fairness, his first Games. As a 20-year-old, Doughty was the youngest on a squad whose defensive unit included veterans like Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Dan Boyle. The closest teammate to Doughty's age four years ago was Jonathan Toews who is a year and eight months older than the Los Angeles blueliner. While it must have been a great honour for him to represent his country on the world's biggest stage, No. 8's role in 2010 was limited. But not in 2014 - and as a result, Canadians all over the country will remember the name of Drew Doughty.
As for Jeff Carter, Canadian fans remember him well as one of the members of the stacked 2005 World Junior team that defeated Russia to end their gold-medal drought. During the NHL lockout, Canada had the golden opportunity to stock up - and they did. On a team that included current Olympians Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, Carter brought his A-game that month in Grand Forks, North Dakota letting scouts know that he was NHL material. In 2014, Jeff Carter has proven that, like Doughty, he is the cream of the crop in the National Hockey League and while Canadian fans are ecstatic on this day, fans of the Los Angeles Kings only hope that both Doughty and Carter can bring that Olympic success back to North America.
Congratulations to both Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter. You have done Canada proud and, just as importantly, you have done the Los Angeles proud.
We'll see you back in SoCal very soon.