Kings' Lombardi to consult with bosses on Doughty negotiations
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Sunday he planned to soon talk to his boss, Tim Leiweke, to firm up their strategy for contract talks with Drew Doughty and so Leiweke can in turn give owner Philip Anschutz an update.
But there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of progress to report, though Lombardi said he spoke three times last week with Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, for varying lengths of time.
Players are due to report to El Segundo on Friday for pre-training camp physicals and to take to the ice on Saturday for camp.
“I still have hope he’ll be here Friday. I don’t know if I expect it but I have hope,” Lombardi said Sunday after greeting a crowd of about 3,000 people at the Kings’ annual Hockey Fest event.
“It’s better than no hope. I still have hope he’s going to be here, yeah.”
While fielding questions from fans, Lombardi discussed his experience while he was the general manager of the San Jose Sharks and endured holdouts by three players that "led to disaster." However, he said the circumstances are different here because in San Jose, for reasons he didn’t specify Sunday, he could not make a fair offer. "I can assure you that’s not the problem here," he told the crowd.
Doughty did not attend Hockey Fest, and since he’s not under contract he wasn’t under obligation to participate.
Lombardi chose his words carefully because he said last week he and Meehan had agreed not to negotiate through the media. When asked what the problem is in reaching an agreement with Doughty, he paused.
"You can figure out the problem. It’s how much and length," he said. 'That’s the two issues. . . . There’s a couple of variables."
He did say they have not reached the point of discussing no-trade or no-move clauses.
Lombardi also said he might try to speak to Doughty directly, though Doughty doesn’t have to agree and can request that Lombardi talk to Meehan instead.
"I feel very confident I will be able to look Drew in the eye as well as the players in the room. Of that part, there is no doubt in my mind," Lombardi said. "I don’t have a problem saying that publicly. That being said, I do think that at some point here I have to say, 'Look, here’s what we’re doing and why and here’s why I think it’s fair.' "
Team captain Dustin Brown said Doughty’s absence has become apparent as players have been filtering back into town.
"From a players’ perspective he’s a big part of our team. But from a personal level you miss him being around," Brown said. "Whether you’re making fun of him or he’s making fun of you it’s that camaraderie. The contract issue, players really don’t worry about that. It’s more about getting him here and around the guys and being part of a group that we’re worried about.
"And I have confidence that they’ll figure it out. He’s not going to not play for us. At least that’s what I think. We want to get him here as soon as possible."
The event began with a moment of silence to honor Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, Kings scouts who were were killed on Flight 175 in the terrorist attacks that took place 10 years ago.
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Photo: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty in action against Tampa Bay last season. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times