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Category: Dean Lombardi

Leiweke: Kings won't blink in salary stalemate with Doughty

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Tim Leiweke, president of the Kings’ parent company, AEG, said Monday he supports General Manager Dean Lombardi’s stance in negotiations with unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty and emphasized Lombardi’s offer of an average $6.8 million annually is based solely on allocating dollars to improve the team and maintaining a strong nucleus that will allow the Kings to compete for the Stanley Cup for years to come.

Doughty, a restricted free agent, remains at home in London, Canada, working out with a junior team while the Kings get deeper into training camp and prepare for their season-opening trip to Sweden and Germany.

Leiweke told The Times on Monday that the Kings are not trying to be cheap with Doughty and, in fact, plan to spend up to the salary cap of $64.3 million. But they want room to upgrade their talent before the trading deadline and maneuver in case of injuries, and paying Doughty the $7 million-plus that he’s seeking would change the allocation and budget and have long-term implications.

“What Dean has said and what I’m going to reiterate on behalf of ownership is that we’re going to be a cap team. This is not a matter of the Kings or AEG saving money. That is zero of the conflict here,” Leiweke said.

“This is a matter of allocation of dollars and the fight here is how do we ultimately respect Drew. And we respect the world out of Drew. I think the world of the kid. He is the cornerstone of the franchise long term and we’re not going to let him go anywhere. Dean’s 100% [correct] that a trade solution’s not in the cards….

“The difference of opinion here is that Drew may see this as disrespect, and it’s not at all. We have offered to make him the fourth-highest-paid defenseman in the NHL and equal the highest-paid King in our history. When I look at that, I think there either has to be a miscommunication or Drew’s a 21-year-old and probably hasn’t done what he may need to do here, which is stand up and take charge of the decision.”

The Kings' offer,  believed to be for six to eight years,  would put him on par with the team-high salary of center Anze Kopitar. Doughty is believed to be seeking over $7 million per season.

"We love Drew. I love Drew personally. I think he’s a great kid and I think he’s going to be a great player in the league long-term," Leiweke. "That said, what Dean’s offered him we’re 100% supportive and in fact, I think Dean was aggressive. And if our mistake is we offered it too quick, then Drew needs to take a step back and understand it’s not about a lack of negotiation. The fact is we offered it quickly because we didn’t want to negotiate.

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Kings' prospects Loktionov, Voynov, Hickey to play again Sunday

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The Kings’ lineup for their exhibition game against the Ducks on Sunday at Staples Center will feature a lot of familiar faces and some that could become familiar very soon.

The projected top three lines will play. Those would be, left to right:

Dustin Penner-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams; Simon Gagne-Mike Richards-Dustin Brown; and Kyle Clifford-Jarret Stoll-Scott Parse.

The scheduled fourth line is Brad Richardson-Andrei Loktionov-Kevin Westgarth, giving Loktionov another chance to win a roster spot after a solid effort in the Kings' 2-1 split-squad shootout loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.

The defense pairs will be Willie Mitchell-Slava Voynov; Alec Martinez (wearing a new number, 27) with Matt Greene, and Davis Drewiske with Thomas Hickey. That’s another chance for Voynov and Hickey to press their case for a spot while Drew Doughty remains unsigned.

There's nothing new regarding the Kings' contract stalemate with Doughty, General Manager Dean Lombardi said through a club spokesman.

The goaltenders are scheduled to be Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier.

The Kings haven't played since Wednesday but Sunday's game will be the Ducks' third in three days. Their game at Vancouver on Saturday night will be televised by the NHL Network at 7 p.m. PDT.

Saturday was the first time center Colin Fraser practiced in a regular jersey as opposed to the yellow, don't-hit-me jersey, progress on his frustrating journey to recover from a fractured foot and subsequent surgery.

Check back for more coverage, including Coach Terry Murray saying he didn’t mind what seemed to be a subpar performance Wednesday by Kyle Clifford but adding that he told winger Scott Parse to get his feet and his game going.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings center Andrei Loktionov battles Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson for possession of the puck during an exhibition game Wednesday at Staples Center. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire

No news on Doughty; ailing Simon Gagne to miss exhibition opener

Drew3 First, the obligatory Drew Doughty non-update update:

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Tuesday he had not spoken to Don Meehan, who represents the unsigned restricted free agent. Lombardi also said that persistent rumors that he will trade Doughty are false. “There’s no way,” Lombardi said.

Some of those rumors appeared on Twitter on Monday from the account of someone impersonating Canadian Sportsnet personality Nick Kypreos, and Lombardi said he initially thought it was the real Kypreos coming up with those trade scenarios. Lombardi said he was irked until he was told the account didn’t belong to Kypreos.

The only other news Tuesday was that winger Simon Gagne was scratched from Wednesday’s split-squad game against Phoenix at Staples Center because of the flu. Gagne missed practice Tuesday and Coach Terry Murray said there was no reason to rush Gagne back.

Brad Richardson, who had been scheduled to travel to Glendale, Ariz., to play in the other split-squad game, instead stayed in Los Angeles and will play at Staples Center. Scott Parse skated alongside Mike Richards and Dustin Brown on Tuesday, with tryout player Cam Paddock on a line with Kyle Clifford and Jarret Stoll. However, Murray said he will have Parse with Stoll and Clifford on Wednesday and will put Richardson on the left side with Richards and Brown.

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Trent Hunter gets a chance to shine at Kings' camp [Updated]

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All Trent Hunter wanted was a chance to show what he can do when he agreed to a training camp tryout with the Los Angeles Kings. On Sunday the 31-year-old winger got more than that: He was given a spot on one of their top two lines in place of the flu-stricken Justin Williams.

For Hunter, who was bought out by the New Jersey Devils this summer a few days after they acquired him from the New York Islanders, the fill-in role isn’t likely to last long. It probably will end as soon as Williams recovers. And Hunter is a long shot to make the team, given the Kings’ new depth up front with the additions of top-six forwards Mike Richards and Simon Gagne and the presence of other veterans like Ethan Moreau.

But it should be interesting to watch him try, especially since he said he had other training camp invitations but chose the Kings for several reasons.

“I sat down with my agent and we just figured this would be the best fit. We talked long and hard about it, and I’m definitely excited to be here,” he said Saturday after his first practice with the Kings.

“It’s definitely a fun team to watch. I haven’t had a chance to see a lot of them, being out on the East Coast, but they’ve got a lot of very skilled players and solid [defense] and great goaltending. So I think it’s a great all-around team.”

Hunter, 31, played only 17 games last season after tearing his left medial collateral ligament in late November. He was drafted by the Ducks in 1998 but never played for them and was traded to the Islanders in May 2000. He peaked at 25 goals in the 2003-04 season and had 20 in 2006-07 but hasn’t scored more than 14 goals in a season since then.

He said the Kings hadn’t made any promises, and he knows he will have to have an exceptional camp to make a strong impression.

“I’m just going to go out and play my game,” he said. “It just felt good to be back on the ice with the guys.

“It was definitely a long year for me last year, having to watch so much hockey, so it’s exciting to be back out there, and I’m just going to go out and play my game and skate hard and work hard and see what happens.”

Colin Fraser (ankle surgery) and J.F. Berube (hip surgery) continued to skate but not with a group.

I've twice emailed General Manager Dean Lombardi to ask if he has any news about unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty, but he hasn't responded. If there's any change, I'll provide an update.

[Updated at 7:25 p.m.: Lombardi said via email that he had not spoken to Doughty's agent, Don Meehan, on Sunday.]

[Updated at 8:20 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Lombardi said via email that he had spoken to Doughty's agent.]

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Trent Hunter during his days with the New York Islanders. Credit: Julie Jacobson / Associated Press

Dustin Penner's fitness a weighty but happy topic for Kings

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The most closely guarded secret during the first day of the Kings’ training camp — more closely guarded even than the team's contract offer to unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty — was Dustin Penner’s weight.

The massive left wing, who contributed only two goals and six points in 19 games after being acquired from Edmonton late last season, said Sept. 11 that he had lost about 10 pounds but didn’t know his weight. Players weighed in Friday but staffers in the Kings’ media relations department said they didn’t get the numbers. Coach Terry Murray said Saturday morning he didn’t know, either, though Murray said Penner’s fitness test results were good.

General Manager Dean Lombardi hunted down the results Saturday afternoon and now it can be disclosed: Penner weighed in between 242 and 243 pounds, down from the 260 he weighed when the Kings acquired him from the Oilers.

Lombardi said Penner is “on the right track,” but still has a ways to go to reach optimal shape. Being in a contract year should be incentive enough for the lumbering left wing to get there.

“It feels good. It’s fun to be out here and get started after a long off-season,” said Penner, who was on a line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams in the day’s second group.

He said his body fat was 4% lower than before — though he wouldn’t say what it had been — and said he didn’t know his weight. But he looked thinner around the face and less like he’s laboring to get going up the ice.

“I tried this new thing where I close my eyes when I step on the scale and I don’t find out until the media guide comes out,” he said. “It’s more exciting that way.

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Kings begin practices without unsigned Drew Doughty

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The Kings took to the ice Saturday for their first training camp scrimmages minus restricted free agent defenseman Drew Doughty, who remains unsigned.

General Manager Dean Lombardi said he had not spoken Saturday with Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan.

On the ice, it was business as usual -- or as close to usual as you can get without a franchise-quality defenseman.

“The plans do not change at all,” Coach Terry Murray said. “We’re going to miss Doughty. I wish he was here to be a part of it. He’s a very important player, a big part of the locker room. He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s a great player for us but the plan does not change for the training camp. We have to get ready for the start of the year. We’ll go through the same plan as we had in the early part of August.”

Murray said he didn’t think he needed to caution players about not letting Doughty’s contract talks become a distraction.

“It’s not my area of concern,” Murray said. “I know I’m the coach of the team and I want Doughty here but that’s the business side of it that everybody is very aware of the way it is. It’s been like that for years.

“Players use the opportunity, I guess, to get as much money as they possibly can. I don’t begrudge anybody that. I’m not going to be upset at Doughty when it finally gets settled. I’m going to be very happy that he’s here and welcome him to the team and let’s get going.”

No one quite knows when that will be, of course. The Kings’ last offer was an average of $6.8 million for about seven years, but Doughty is believed to be seeking $7 million or slightly more.

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Dean Lombardi: Kings have made their best offer to Drew Doughty

Photo: Dean Lombardi. Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein / Getty Images.  

General Manager Dean Lombardi said Friday the Kings have made their “best” offer to restricted free agent defenseman Drew Doughty and will proceed through training camp without him.

“We all know he’s a lively kid. He loves to play. He brings life to your room, let alone what type of player he is,” Lombardi said Friday after the remaining players underwent physical exams and fitness testing at the team’s El Segundo practice facility.

“That said, we have to move on here and focus on what we have, and we have a good team.

“At some point he’s going to be a King. He’s going to be a King a long time. It’s a bump in the road, but for the short and long term there’s no doubt that this is the right thing in terms of what we have out there.”

Players are paid only from the start to finish of the regualr season, but Lombardi said he considers the first day of training camp to be the start of a 275-day work period. Lombardi said he had not decided if he will reduce Doughty’s eventual salary based on how many days the defenseman misses, though that's a condition Lombardi can put on the table depending on the nature and tone of future talks.

The Kings have offered Doughty an average of $6.8 million a year and were open to durations of six to eight years and to putting the 21-year-old defenseman’s average annual salary on a par with first-line center Anze Kopitar, an older and more proven player. But Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, is believed to be requesting an average of $7 million -- and here’s where it gets complicated.

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Drew Doughty a no-show at Kings' training camp

Photo: Drew Doughty celebrates. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times. 

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.

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Helene Elliott

Photo: Drew Doughty celebrates. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times.
 

Drew Doughty not expected to report to Kings' camp Friday

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Barring a late and surprising move, it’s unlikely that unsigned restricted free agent Drew Doughty will report to the Kings’ training site in El Segundo on Friday with the rest of his teammates.

The 21-year-old defenseman was in Canada late Thursday, according to his agent, Don Meehan. Players’ physicals are scheduled to start around 7 a.m. Friday at the Toyota Sports Center.

Meehan said he had sent correspondence to the Kings on Thursday in response to communication he received from them by email and FedEx.

“We responded after we had discussions with Drew,” Meehan said by phone Thursday.

“We’re committed to being engaged in discussions and we’re more than willing to talk. I think the next step is for the Kings to respond to our correspondence.”

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Kings' Westgarth saddened by deaths of fellow enforcers

Westgarth_250 Emptying the digital recorder after Sunday’s Hockey Fest event held by the Kings at Staples Center....

The deaths of enforcers Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak since May have stunned the NHL and resonated especially deeply with Kings forward Kevin Westgarth.

Westgarth, who has three assists and 114 penalty minutes in 65 career NHL games, said he can “empathize with the various struggles and the roller coaster it can be” to be a tough guy and said he felt sorry for the families each player left behind.

“I’ve been extremely lucky. It’s just an incredible tragedy,” he said Sunday. “I’m in essentially the same role as those guys. It’s not hugely different.

“It kind of makes you look in the mirror. It’s awful. And it does hit a little closer to home and it’s just really confusing.”

Boogaard’s death was attributed to an accidental and toxic mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone. His family donated his brain to a Boston University study on the effects of repeated brain trauma.

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Drew Doughty not expected at Kings' Fan Fest Sunday

Drew3 Some notes from the Kings and Ducks as they prepare for their rookie camps and training camps next week:

Restricted free-agent defenseman Drew Doughty is not expected to attend the Kings’ Fan Fest, to be held Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Staples Center. Since he’s not signed he’s not obligated to attend promotional or other team functions, and he’s not on the participant list the Kings sent out Thursday.

His absence should add spice to the first event, “State of the Kings,” a scheduled two-hour session that will include a question-and-answer session with General Manager Dean Lombardi. That should be interesting, to say the least.

Lombardi said Thursday through a team spokesman that he and Doughty’s agent, Don Meehan, have agreed not to comment publicly about the negotiations. However, it doesn’t appear that an agreement is imminent.

The Hockey Fest event is sold out, but portions of it will be streamed live at Lakings.com.

The Kings also said Thursday that strength and conditioning coach Tim Adams had left the club to “pursue other opportunities.”

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