Kings' Doughty, Sharks' Couture put friendship on hold for now
But Sharks rookie center Logan Couture knows Doughty well enough to verify it — and Couture hopes his knowledge about his childhood friend will help the Sharks when the teams’ first-round playoff series opens Thursday at HP Pavilion.
Couture, a contender for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie this season, and Doughty, a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman last season, grew up together in the Canadian city of London, Ontario, and played on the same teams for several years. Couture, eight months older than Doughty, was drafted in 2007.
They still see each other in the off-season and have been texting each other recently, all in good fun.
Couture said their buddies back home are unhappy that he or Doughty will be eliminated after the first round, “but I’m really hoping that it’s him,” Couture said after the Sharks’ morning skate Thursday. “To have two players like that who played growing up together and making it to the NHL and face each other in the playoffs, it’s a small world.”
Couture recalled Doughty’s early devotion to the Kings. “I remember in his bedroom he had Kings stuff on his bed,” Couture said. “It’s weird how he ended up in L.A. He definitely was a Kings fan. I was a Sabres fan. I can’t lie and say I was a Sharks fan, but he definitely was a Kings fan.”
Doughty was pleased his pal remembered their shared past.
“We played pond hockey and stuff like that together when I was wearing my Kings gear, so he’s someone who can tell you that I was definitely a Kings fan,” Doughty said.
“It’s going to be fun. He’s been a good buddy of mine forever now. We still hang out in the summer and whatnot. We’re friends off the ice but when we get out there, especially in this playoff series, it’s going to be no friends. We’re going to play each other hard. Probably even harder because we are friends. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Couture said his familiarity with Doughty might help the Sharks.
“He’s a good player. I know a couple of his tendencies,” Couture said. “He loves to do that little spinorama move so I’m sure the guys know that already, but he loves to jump up in the rush. He’s their best D-man and we’re looking forward to shutting him down.”
Doughty laughed when told Couture knows his tendencies.
“Oh, he does? You can tell him that I know his as well,” Doughty said, smiling. “We play a lot of pickup hockey in the summer, so he probably does know a lot of things I do. We play just two on two or one on one. He knows the things I do. He knows my spinorama and stuff like that, so when he’s covering me I’m probably going to have to make the simple play.
“He knows my moves. It’s tough playing against someone who knows you so well. But if I mix in a couple different moves he hopefully won’t know what to expect.”
Check back later for coverage of Game 1 at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott in San Jose
Photo: Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) sets up for a pass against the Dallas Stars in the first period of play at the Staples Center April 2, 2011. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire