Back in March, when Drew Doughty was mired in a 28-game goal-less slump to start the season, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter delivered one of the quotes of the year in defense of his star blue-liner.
The last thing Sutter wanted to see was Doughty trying to do it all himself.
“Well, if you do that all the time, you’re not a very good player,” said Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “You’re Brian Campbell in Florida. You’ll be minus-20. And we’ll see you on the highlights, but you’re on a bad team, and you’re a high-minus player.”
Sutter went on to suggest Doughty wasn’t worried about being stuck at zero goals.
“It’s about winning,” he said. “It’s one thing you take from winning a championship – when you talk to the players, they just want to win. It’s not about goals and assists. It’s about winning, and you try and just keep everybody in line.”
But when Doughty finally busted his slump with a goal against the Phoenix Coyotes on March 19, he admitted it was a big relief.
“Oh yeah, it was bothering me a little bit,” he said, per Mayor’s Manor. “I just had to stay positive with myself and with you guys. Yeah, it was obviously frustrating. I’m supposed to be an offensive defenseman, even though I’ve been playing a little bit different role this year. I still want to get points and still get goals. It helps us win games. I was frustrated with myself that I didn’t have one, but now I’m frustrated with myself that I only have one. So I gotta try and get back to it and get a few more.”
Doughty finished the regular season with six goals and 16 assists in 48 games; however, his offensive woes returned in the playoffs, as he managed just two goals and three assists in 18 contests.
Granted, Doughty wasn’t the only King to struggle in that department. Los Angeles averaged just 2.06 goals per game in the playoffs. And let’s face it, a defenseman’s point production is strongly tied to the forwards’ ability to convert on scoring chances.
Also, he did say he’d “been playing a little bit different role this year.” Which would be more of a shutdown role, as the Kings were forced to play without injured Willie Mitchell all season.
But given Doughty’s contract — $56 million over eight years ($7 million cap hit) — it’s fair to ask if the team needs more from the 23-year-old next season. When the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012, he had 16 points in 20 games. Probably not a coincidence.
We’ll give the last word on this to the man himself:
“I love playing other team’s top players, but I still want to be able to kick in on the offense when I can.”