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.