Drew Doughty a no-show at Kings' training camp
The contract dispute between the Kings and restricted free agent Drew Doughty escalated Friday when the unsigned defenseman did not report to the team’s El Segundo practice facility for physicals and fitness testing on the first day of training camp.
Every other player reported as expected, a club spokesman said. I’m hoping to speak to General Manager Dean Lombardi later to get an update from his perspective on what happens next.
Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, said Thursday he was waiting for the Kings to call him after the two sides had communicated earlier in the week.
Doughty’s absence isn’t a surprise but it is a significant moment for a team that appeared poised to crack the ranks of the elite in the talent-stacked Western Conference. Will this impasse last long enough to keep Doughty out of camp and affect his conditioning? How will teammates feel about his absence, especially if it carries into the season and leads to a slow start?
This is also a crucial moment for Lombardi, who dealt with several holdouts while general manager of the San Jose Sharks and was fired after those contract disputes contributed to the team’s poor season.
He doesn’t want to pay a 21-year-old Doughty more money per season than top-line center Anze Kopitar’s $6.8 million average unless he can lock Doughty up for nine years, and Doughty doesn’t want to lose so many free-agent opportunities. Lombardi is being pushed into an uncomfortable corner, and how he handles this could define his tenure.
We’ll have more coverage later at www.latimes.com/sports.
Photo: Drew Doughty celebrates. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.