Kings GM Lombardi on Doughty: ‘He’s definitely grown up’


Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi recently sat down with LA Kings Insider to discuss all things defense — the injuries on the Kings blueline, the lack of available rearguards across the league and, most interestingly, his own marquee defenseman, Drew Doughty.

Once known for his questionable dedication to fitness (see here and here), Doughty came into this year’s abbreviated training in good shape after hiring a personal trainer to work with him during the lockout.

Here’s what Lombardi had to say:

“What I’m so happy with Drew is that he showed up in shape. When I talk about the growth of these kids, that alone – because Drew two years ago, given those months off, we all saw what he was his first two years pro. That’s the first thing I say. He’s definitely grown up.

“Secondly, look at the minutes he’s playing. He’s still not where he needs to be physically to deal with those minutes. That’ll come. In junior hockey, he played 40 minutes [a night]. Eventually you want him to get there, but he’s playing an awful lot of minutes now, and quite frankly…he wouldn’t be playing those minutes if we were healthy.

“I think with Drew, the thing I’ve noticed, given that he’s started to take care of himself off the ice.”

In an odd twist, Doughty recently spoke with the LA Times about how unhappy he was with his start to the campaign.

“I’m not happy about some things — not scoring points, I haven’t scored a goal yet — it isn’t a good thing,” Doughty told the paper. “Sometimes bounces just don’t go your way. We’re not scoring a lot of even-strength goals.

“And if you’re playing a lot of minutes, pretty much half the game, you’re going to be out there for goals against.”

Doughty has just four assists through 11 games this year but is averaging 27:38 in ice time per game, second in the NHL to former Kings teammate Jack Johnson, who is averaging over 28 a night for the Blue Jackets.

Note: It should be mentioned that, in speaking about Doughty’s offseason, Lombardi made no mention of the sexual assault allegation made against Doughty, or the subsequent investigation.

Though to be fair, the incident might not have required mention, as the LA District Attorney’s office chose not to file charges in mid-July, citing that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen