Something (or someone) has to give as Drew Doughty negotiations remain stalled

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Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi and Drew Doughty’s agent Don Meehan are currently engaged in the multimillion dollar equivalent of a staring contest. Ideally, both sides will find a way to compromise, but it’s just as likely that only one will blink. Let’s just hope that Doughty doesn’t miss any regular season games in the process.

The latest news is that there really isn’t news; the impasse remains. There’s no denying Lombardi’s history with Meehan, either – it’s quite possible that the 2002 holdouts by Evgeni Nabokov and Brad Stuart cost him his job as the San Jose Sharks general manager. Lombardi isn’t exactly sitting idly by, though, as the blustery GM made a startling claim that Doughty’s cash reward will drop about $25,000 for every day that he goes without a contract. Lombardi’s reasoning is based on the CBA, but it’s hard to look at it as anything but tense negotiations leading him to play hard ball with a player who is probably the biggest asset on a rising team.

While Lombardi might look bad for pulling back the curtain on the contract talks – and let’s face it, he’s not known for being shy about making controversial comments (see: Jack Johnson and Dustin Penner) – Doughty faces the reality of missing training camp with teammates. Sometimes that can entail some ugly things being said, with words like “greed” (or worse) being thrown around.

Elliotte Friedman shares Marty Turco’s perspective on what it must feel like to be in a game of holdout chicken, especially once training camp begins.

“This is when it hits you,” Turco said Friday morning. “Your teammates are in training camp and you’re not. It’s scary. People start saying things. You hear it, take it personally.”

Turco was unsigned when camp began in 2003, at home in Sault Ste. Marie. The standoff lasted one week before he agreed to a three-year, $12-million deal.

“I’ve always lived my life to have no regrets, but at this time, you certainly wonder if you’re doing the right thing.”

Eventually, someone – or preferably all sides – will need to cave in and do just that: the right thing. The Kings might be wise not to assume that Doughty will follow in Bobby Ryan’s footsteps by negotiating his own (team-friendly) contract without Meehan. Some people might plead with Doughty to give in a bit while others might chide Lombardi & Co. for being too stubborn, but the longer this battle of attrition goes on, the worse all sides end up looking.

Maybe Doughty and Meehan should relax their monetary demands ever so slightly. Perhaps the Kings should shorten the term of the deal, even if that means accepting the reality of Doughty becoming an unrestricted free agent that much sooner. Either way, something (and someone) has to give in this situation.

If it comes down to an either/or scenario, which side should budge first? Should Doughty accept less than he might be worth or should the Kings just suck it up and pay their best player? Let us know if you lean one way or the other in the comments.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.