Sense of Relief as Doughty Arrives in LA

Hunter sign with Kings; Westgarth cleared to play

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 5:48 PM / Los Angeles Kings | News
By Rich Hammond
X
Share with your Friends


Sense of Relief as Doughty Arrives in LA

The Kings finished their morning skate before recently signed defenseman Drew Doughty arrived Friday to sign his contact and complete his fitness testing.

Soon enough, though, Doughty’s teammates will see him, and they will be hungry.

Doughty agreed to an eight-year, $56-million contract on Thursday night, which prompted media members to ask Brown, the team captain and Doughty’s road roommate, whether Doughty would soon be picking up the tab for lunch.

"He's buying more than lunch, that's for sure," Brown said with a smile.

Doughty’s absence from training camp had been the dominant theme for almost two weeks, with questions coming daily about when he might show up, whether teammates were concerned and how coaches and players might have to go on without him.

On Friday, there was a palpable sense of relief.

"Everyone kind of knew it was a matter of time, and they finally figured it out, a deal that works for both parties," Brown said. "It's good to have him back. Going through training camp, I think that was probably the biggest story, unfortunately, was him not being here. So we've got him back now, and now it's just a matter of getting ready to go."

Kings coach Terry Murray said Doughty would not play in Saturday’s "Frozen Fury" game against Colorado in Las Vegas, but left open the possibility of Doughty playing in Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Hamburg Freezers in Germany.

The Kings will have one day of practice in Las Vegas and three days of practice in Europe before their season opener on Oct. 7 against the New York Rangers.

"I'll think about (playing Doughty in) that first exhibition game over in Europe, on that Tuesday," Murray said. "I know they play eight defensemen in Europe. They play four lines, eight defensemen. Why couldn't I do that, in this exhibition game? It's Olympic-sized ice, it's against the local team. Maybe that's something we can do, and maybe get a few minutes in there for him."

Brown said he text-messaged Doughty to offer congratulations on the new contract, and Brown said he had done his best to advise and counsel his friend throughout the summer, as Doughty tried to navigate his way toward a new contract.

"I think, for him, it's maybe just a sigh of relief," Brown said. "I think what a lot of people forget is that he's 21 years old, and in a situation that not a lot of 21-year-olds have to deal with.

"Whatever your opinion of how it went down, he definitely wanted to be here from day one. What happens in negotiations, a lot of people don't understand.

"He had to deal with it, pretty much by himself, seeing how he wasn't around the guys at all. So, again, last night was just congratulations. I told him he needed to be early so he could get his fitness testing done."

HUNTER SIGNS CONTRACT
Veteran winger Trent Hunter signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Kings.

Hunter, coming off major knee surgery, came to Kings camp without a contract, under a professional-tryout agreement, but has consistently impressed during practices and games. Hunter had two assists in Wednesday’s game at Colorado.

Hunter will play tonight at Anaheim, on right wing on a line with center Trevor Lewis and left winger Brad Richardson.

Other Kings lines will have Anze Kopitar centering Simon Gagne and Scott Parse, Mike Richards centering Dustin Penner and Brown, and Jarret Stoll centering Kyle Clifford and Ethan Moreau.

On defense, pairs will be Willie Mitchell and Slava Voynov, Rob Scuderi and Thomas Hickey, and Davis Drewiske and Matt Greene.

Jonathan Bernier is scheduled to play the entire game in goal.

CLEARED TO GO
Kevin Westgarth, injured last Sunday during a preseason-game fight with Anaheim’s Brian McGrattan, has been cleared to play and returned to practice Friday. Murray said Westgarth is unlikely to play Saturday in Las Vegas.

Jake Muzzin, who has been suffering headaches since being driven into the glass, head-first, on a hit by Phoenix’s Mikkel Boedker in the preseason opener, skated and did some drills at the end of practice Friday but has not been cleared.