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Drew Doughty's fitness not an issue to Kings

January 2, 2011 |  5:40 pm

Doughty_300 It seemed like an innocuous answer to a light-hearted question.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, asked by a Fox Sports West’s Patrick O’Neal to share his New Year’s resolution, replied, “Stop eating at McDonald’s.” Doughty laughed and added, “Not going to happen.”

That comment was aired during the Kings’ game Saturday. Coupled with Doughty’s re-take of a training-camp fitness test, a past that includes weight problems and maybe some frustration over the team's three-game losing streak, it seems to have inspired new attacks on Doughty’s supposed lack of fitness on fan message boards and other social media outlets.

A couple of things:

First, Doughty said he recently had gotten an endorsement deal with McDonald’s Canada, so the mention of eating at the fast-food chain likely was his way of providing free advertising and not a confession of his menu choices.

And just think about it:

Could an out-of-shape defenseman have played a game-high 28 minutes and 59 seconds as Doughty did in the Kings’ 1-0 loss to San Jose on Saturday and average 25:39 this season, the seventh-highest average in the NHL?

In the 27 games he has played since he returned from a concussion his lightest workload was 22:49 against Calgary on Dec. 9. He has played as much as 30:41, Dec. 4 against Detroit. No one who is significantly out of shape could possibly do that.

He’s a kid, barely 21. He probably doesn’t eat as well as he should and he will realize that someday. But no athlete could eat cheeseburgers, fries and doughnuts on a regular basis and play in the NHL at the level Doughty has played.

“I think he’s in as good shape as he should be right now but it’s not as good as he will be as he continues to mature as a man, just evolve into a bigger, stronger player,” Coach Terry Murray said. “He played a lot of minutes [Saturday] night. He’s up around 28 minutes and that’s where we want him to be. So can he handle those minutes? Yeah, sure he can. He’s such a gifted player that when you’re out in those situations for that many minutes you just learn how to play the game.

“You’re not going to be 100% intensity. That’s to be expected. You pace yourself at times. As long as your timing is good away from the puck and you’re going in to get the puck with intensity and moving it the right way, those defensemen can play every game 30 minutes, 28 minutes, without any problem.”

Murray said he has no quarrel with Doughty’s current conditioning.

“We do all the skating drills whenever we have those real hard work drills. He’s pushing it as hard as anybody and he’s right there with everybody else,” Murray said. “I’m OK, but I know down the road, in several more years, he will be a better physical specimen than what he is today.”

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images