Defender Drew Doughty, along with Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, is the heart of the Los Angeles Kings, but maybe not for the rest of his career.
In an interview with Matt Larkin of The Hockey News magazine, Doughty does not dodge questions about his future in California. He will remain there only if the team is competitive.
“My first love will always remain in Los Angeles. It is one of the largest organizations of all sports. It’s amazing, we are extremely well treated and it’s a wonderful place to play hockey. I would like to pursue my career there, but if the team does not go in the right direction … ”
Doughty, a two-time Stanley Cup champion and a Norris trophy winner, will earn $7 million per season over the next two years. Undoubtedly he could fetch much more if he were to test free agent market.
The Kings must rebound in the next two seasons if they want to convince Doughty to stay in Los Angeles. The team has missed the playoffs on two occasions in the past three seasons and only won one series in that time.
This summer, the Kings dismissed their general manager Dean Lombardi and their coach Darryl Sutter to replace them with Rob Blake and John Stevens, respectively. Luc Robitaille of Quebec is the president of the team. Changes welcomed by Doughty.
“Dean and Darryl were important to our organization and good for me as a player. I love them, but at the same time we have to make changes. I’m not saying Dean had to leave, but we needed a change behind the bench and I think the decision was the right one. ”
Formerly a power in the West, the Kings will have plenty to do to find the path to the playoffs in a Pacific section that includes Ducks, Oilers, Flames and Sharks, among others.