Drew Doughty: Back in black, says he’s ready to play

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been freed from the shackles of his yellow non-contact jersey. LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond reports Doughty went Johnny Cash at practice today (read: dressed in black) and participated in contact drills for the first time since getting hurt.

Following practice, Doughty told Hammond he wants back in the lineup. Badly.

DOUGHTY: “I was cleared to practice with the team and cleared to get some contact in practice. I feel really good. I feel ready to play and almost back to normal. Now it’s just kind of in the hands of the training staff and the coaching staff to put me in.’’

Question: Is playing tomorrow a possibility?

DOUGHTY: “I hope so. I really want to play tomorrow, really badly. It sucks being out, obviously, but like I said I’m ready to play but at the same time, it’s really just in the training staff’s hands.’’

The Kings begin a three-game road set in Dallas on Thursday and could use Doughty’s offensive presence. L.A. has just three goals in its last three games and is on a collision course with Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen, he of the 7-0-0 record, 1.54 goals-against average and .955 save percentage.

That said, head coach Terry Murray won’t rush Doughty back. The 21-year-old has been out of action since getting nailed by Philly’s Zac Rinaldo on Oct. 15, at which time Kings GM Dean Lombardi said Doughty would miss 7-10 days with an upper-body injury unrelated to his head. (Speculation was he separated his shoulder.)

The 10 days are up, but Doughty’s had very limited exposure to contact. It’s feasible the Kings might hold him out until Saturday, when they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes.

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