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.