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Excitement, Disappointment in Locker Room

Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 5:15 PM / Los Angeles Kings | News
By Rich Hammond
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Excitement, Disappointment in Locker Room
Drew Doughty
Over the summer, Drew Doughty got a voice-mail message from Steve Yzerman, who informed Doughty of his invitation to Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp.

Doughty treasured the message, treasured the thought of even being considered for Team Canada, and replayed the message for weeks until he dropped his phone in water. Now, Doughty has a new voice-mail message, one that he can treasure for the rest of his life.

On Wednesday morning, Doughty got the call of a lifetime from Team Canada representative Doug Armstrong, informing Doughty that he had been one of the 23 players selected to represent his country in the 2010 Olympics.

Doughty was one of only seven defensemen selected from a ridiculously talented pool of candidates and, at age 20, is the youngest player on Canada’s roster. Canada opens preliminary-round play in Vancouver on Feb. 16 against Norway and, as usual, is expected to be one of the top contenders for the gold medal.

"I couldn't sleep last night," Doughty said. "I'm going to be honest. It was a pretty tough night for me last night. I was up, then I was sleeping, then I was back and forth. I was pretty nervous. I didn't really know what my chances were. I knew I had an outside shot. Making it is definitely a big surprise, as I said, but I'm just so excited."

Doughty awoke at approximately 9 a.m. Wednesday to a voice-mail message, informing him that he had been selected. In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, Doughty had been one of the most-debated defensemen under consideration. Scott Niedermayer (Canada’s team captain), Chris Pronger, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Dan Boyle and Shea Weber were considered fairly obvious picks, leaving Doughty in the company of defensemen such as Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr for the seventh and final spot.

"You know, I was pretty surprised," Doughty said. "I knew I had a shot at one of the last spots there, but getting that phone call this morning was real surprising, but definitely one of my greatest moments."

Doughty’s age, the theory went, could have worked for him or against him. He was the youngest defensemen under consideration, and just a second-year player, but Canada also took some heat four years ago for not including enough young, up-and-coming players.

Ultimately, executive director Steve Yzerman and his staff went with Doughty, and Canada coach Mike Babcock had high praise for the choice.

"The great players, they seem to just get better so fast," Babcock said. "He's a guy that plays with unbelievable poise. Great in his own zone. He's a matchup guy, plays against the best players each and every night. We honed in on him, we watched him. Kevin Lowe spent a lot of time covering him, and in the end, we decided he was going to be a great fit. He's a difference-maker. He can shoot the pill. He can get it going."

Doughty joins Michal Handzus as the certain Kings who will be playing in the Olympics. They are likely to be joined by Americans Dustin Brown, Jack Johnson and Jonathan Quick when Team USA announces its roster on Friday.

That would pit Brown against Doughty, not just teammate vs. teammate but roommate vs. roommate. Brown, by virtue of sharing a room with Doughty, was the first to hear Doughty’s good news, after having to endure something of a long night with him.

"I went to dinner with him (Tuesday night), and we room together, and I think it kind of hit him at dinner," Brown said. "The TV was on, and they started talking about the team being named tomorrow, and it kind of hit him that the possibility was there that he would be playing. It's funny to see. I don't think he fully understands how big of a deal it is, especially being here in Canada while it happens.

"Obviously it's a huge honor for him. He's so young, and I think part of what makes him great is that he doesn't understand how big of a deal it is, and how good he is. He just has that goofy attitude. He doesn't realize how good he is."

ON THE OTHER HAND…
Despite the happiness for Doughty in the Kings’ dressing room, there was some disappointment, as two-time Canadian Olympian Ryan Smyth was not selected.

Smyth, who had earned the nickname "Captain Canada" for his extensive international experience – which included gold medals at the Olympics, World Championships, World Cup of Hockey and World Junior Championships – made a case for himself with his strong play at the start of the season, but then missed more than a month with injury.

Smyth will remain in consideration, should a forward on Canada’s roster become injured in the next six weeks.

"Am I disappointed? Yes, I'm disappointed," Smyth said. "I would love to play for my country. It brings chills to my spine as I say it. I have a great deal of pride with putting on the Canadian jersey, and I hope to for many more years.

"I believe they picked the 23 guys for a reason. I know there's a lot of hockey between now and then, but you've just got to go out and play and carry on forth. If an accident happens, it happens, but you can't think about that. These guys are going to represent our country with pride and I'll be their No. 1 fan."

THERE IS A GAME
Wednesday morning was all about "Olympic fever," but after answering all those questions, the Kings and Calgary Flames had to focus on a rather important game.

The Kings and Flames, who were both division leaders not long ago, have both slipped. Each team has 47 points, putting them in a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference, but the Flames have the edge since they have played one fewer game than the Kings.

The Kings, facing a back-to-back situation with a game Wednesday night in Minnesota, will give Erik Ersberg the start in goal tonight, with Jonathan Quick scheduled to return on Wednesday.

The Kings have not won a game in Calgary since Dec. 21, 2005. They are 0-8 in Calgary since that game. Calgary beat the Kings 2-1 on Dec. 17 in Calgary.

country with pride and I'll be their No. 1 fan."

VOYNOV NAMED AHL ALL-STAR
The American Hockey League announced Wednesday that Manchester Monarchs defenseman Viatcheslav Voynov was named to the PlanetUSA All-Star team at the 2010 Time Warner Cable AHL All-Star Classic, to be played next month at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine. ...more.