EL SEGUNDO—Kings defenseman Drew Doughty reported to training camp Friday afternoon, two weeks late but a lot richer after signing an eight-year, $54-million deal earlier in the day.
Doughty, 21, said he was excited to be back with the team that drafted him second overall in 2008. He caught an early morning flight from his home in London, Ontario Canada, took his fitness tests and spent about an hour going through skating exercises at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.
“I didn’t plan to be back home in London for that long,” he said. “I planned to be here the whole time. It was never a question of leaving the Kings or anything like that. We had to get done what we had to get done and now it’s time for the season.”
Kings coach Terry Murray said Doughty would not play in the exhibition games Friday night in Anaheim or Saturday in Las Vegas against the Colorado Avalanche, but didn’t rule out the possibility of Doughty participating in a scrimmage Tuesday in Hamburg, Germany.
The Kings will open their season Oct. 7 against the New York Rangers in Stockholm, Sweden.
“I think I can jump right into it,” Doughty said before taking the ice for his workout. “I’ll get a good skate in right now, just kind of work on my edges. I haven’t slept much. I found out my flight was at 6 a.m. at about 12 o’clock last night, so I had a couple hours of sleep, but I’m just excited to be here and can’t wait to be with the guys.”
Doughty, who became the highest paid player on the Kings and the third richest defensemen in the league, did not want to discuss the contract negotiations or what caused the delay in coming to an agreement. Rather, he reiterated his excitement with rejoining the team.
“I apologize that I wasn’t here in time," Doughty said. "Maybe some people think I didn’t go about doing things the right way. It’s part of the business. That’s past us now. I’m just going to focus on the season and taking this team all the way to the finals."
Conditioning was an issue for Doughty at the start of last season and there was some concern he would not be in top shape after missing the first two weeks of camp, but Doughty said he weighs about 203 pounds, down from the 210 he played at last season.
“I feel stronger and I feel better conditioned as well,” he said. “I’m a little bit slimmer but at the same time I have more muscle on me. I’m real excited about how my offseason went and how it progressed.”
Murray did not have a chance to meet with Doughty before the team took a bus to Anaheim for their game against the Ducks, but said earlier in the day he was looking forward to practicing with Doughty and pushing the ‘gas pedal right to the floor boards.”
The “Lamborghini approach,” as he called it.
“You’re going to push him right through and get the amount of work you feel, as a coaching staff, a player needs,” he said.
Veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi cautioned that a player who has missed as much training camp as Doughty needs to be weary of pushing too hard too soon.
“You’ve got to find that fine line,” he said. “Especially for him, since the season will be starting so soon after he starts. It’s important for him to get back into it slowly. I know it’s going to have to be accelerated, but you still have to take it slow. You don’t want to just get hurt and now your out for a month or two.”