“Sick of Losing”, Drew Doughty Pushing LA Kings for Changes

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on May 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 08: Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings looks on during the third period against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on May 08, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Friday saw some of the LA Kings giving their respective exit interviews. For Drew Doughty, he took the opportunity to be open and honest about where his team stood.

Never one to mince words, Drew Doughty did not disappoint in his exit interview on Friday morning to close out the LA Kings‘ season.

“We’re very happy the season’s over now but obviously, we’d do anything to be in the playoffs, even though it could be in a bubble or whatever it is,” Doughty admitted. “I mean, I think every single guy on this team would take going to the playoffs over an ended season just because of COVID. I mean, we stuck with all the protocols all year long and I think our team did one of the best jobs in the whole league — our trainers, everyone, did an unbelievable job. So, I mean, we’d definitely rather be in the playoffs than going home but it was a long year with all the protocols and stuff.”

Following Thursday’s season-finale, Kings head coach Todd McLellan had said that he believed there was “an erosion” of the team’s belief system. While some may think such a statement is harsh, that isn’t to suggest that there isn’t any truth to it. The Kings’ veteran defenseman couldn’t help but echo this belief — at least to a degree.

“I kind of feel like it happened after [Jeff Carter] got traded,” a pensive Doughty recalled. “I don’t know if that’s when it did happen but it kind of seemed after that happened, everything just kind of went backward.”

In fairness, while the Kings certainly had their share of difficulties this season, the journey in 2021 wasn’t so much a detriment to their own team but rather a testament to their opponents.

“It wasn’t that we didn’t believe in each other or anything like that [but] we were playing some good teams and playing Colorado all those games — one of the best teams in the league — those are tough games, tough pills to swallow,” Doughty added. “We didn’t even have a chance; like, not even close. So, those are tough to swallow. But yeah, I mean, [we’ve] got to get better. That’s the bottom line. That’s what we need. All the individual players need to get better over the summer, stuff like that, but as a team, we just need to be better and get better. That’s not just on the players.”

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The two-time Stanley Cup champion was then put on the spot — courtesy of Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period — when he was asked if he’d be happy with the Kings’ direction if the club doesn’t make any big moves this offseason.

“No,” Doughty succinctly responded.

Veteran journalist Andrew Knoll also addressed the potential of the Kings making some big moves this summer, asking Doughty if the club should use its ample cap space to pursue some veteran players.

“[We’ve] got to,” a matter-of-fact Doughty said. “Me and Kopi, Quickie, Brownie, we’re all getting older. We all had, I thought, phenomenal seasons, but we’re running out of time. You got two of the best players at their position both ways, two of the most complete players at the position, and with all this cap room, yeah, we’ve got to bring guys in. That’s it. For sure. There’s no point just waiting for these prospects to develop when you’ve got guys in their prime guys who are hungry to win, and guys who are sick of losing. So yeah, we’ve got to bring guys in.”

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As for what was this season, Doughty addressed his own game. While he had occasional issues offensively, the 31-year-old was spectacular defensively.

Appearing in all 56 games for the Kings this season, Doughty registered a very impressive 83 blocked shots and even flexed his physical muscle with 91 hits. Doughty’s defensive prowess was a major reason why the Kings averaged 31.2 shots-against per game (9th overall) and were tied for 6th overall on the penalty kill at a rate of 83.7 percent. Heck, the blueliner was no slouch offensively, either, scoring eight goals and adding 26 assists.

“I felt like I was having one of the best seasons in my whole career, to be honest,” Doughty emphasized. “I kind of went back to how I used to play: a little more risky, a little more offensive. I still kept that defensive game intact. Honestly, I think I improved in the defensive area, to be honest. Just kind of sucks how the season ended. Went on a cold streak as a team and personally, I wish we could have done better there, but overall, I was very happy with my season and the leadership I helped the team with. So, happy but, you know, want to be in the playoffs and personally want to be up for that Norris [Trophy] every year. I know it’s not easy to do, but it’s where I want to be.”

While the last few weeks of the regular season may not have instilled a plethora of confidence for Kings fans entering next season, the silver-and-black’s outstanding work on defense and the penalty kill are just two reasons to feel excited for the future of the LA Kings. To suggest that Drew Doughty is not an integral part of said success would be, for lack of a better term, irresponsible.

Some of the best leaders are the most honest ones, and Drew Doughty fits that bill to a T. This is just one reason why the LA Kings are thankful for their great No. 8, and why they will continue to be thankful as they prepare for the next level in their ultimate return to playoff, and championship, contention.