Doughty deal remains elusive
Defenseman Drew Doughty was not expected to report to the Kings’ El Segundo training facility Friday for the first day of training camp, clouding the start of the season for a team that had finally assembled the scoring power, depth and maturity to contend for the Stanley Cup.
Doughty, a restricted free agent, was home in Canada late Thursday while his agent, Don Meehan, and the Kings remained at odds over a new contract. Meehan said he had received communication from the Kings on Wednesday and replied Thursday after talking to Doughty.
“We’re committed to being engaged in discussions and we’re more than willing to talk,” Meehan said by phone Thursday. “I think the next step is for the Kings to respond to our correspondence.”
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi declined to comment. Players are set to undergo physical exams and testing Friday and to take to the ice Saturday.
Hoping to avoid a contract dispute, Lombardi in July offered Doughty a nine-year deal worth about $6.8 million annually, the same average as first-line center Anze Kopitar. Though acknowledging Doughty’s abundant talent, the Kings don’t want to pay the 21-year-old more on average than they pay the more proven Kopitar. They might have gone higher to secure Doughty well into his unrestricted free-agency years, but Doughty wants a shorter duration and more money.
The Ducks, by contrast, will open camp Friday at Honda Center with everyone on board after right wing Teemu Selanne’s acceptance of a one-year, $4-million contract.
Re-signing Selanne for what he said he is looking at as his last season was completed swiftly and without much wrangling. After determining his knee was strong enough for him to play at an elite level, Selanne approached General Manager Bob Murray on Tuesday night and suggested that Murray call his longtime agent, Don Baizley. Selanne signed the paperwork Thursday afternoon.
“I really feel like I can play at the same level I played at in the past,” said Selanne, who had 31 goals and 80 points in 73 games last season and is 14th on the NHL career goals list with 637 and 27th in points with 1,340.
“If you can’t do that, you can’t enjoy the game as much and there would be no way I’d come back.”
Murray said he was doubtful in July that Selanne would return after feeling post-surgical stiffness in his left knee. Murray’s mood lightened after Selanne strengthened the knee and regained his speed.
“Legitimately our top two lines are pretty good, no doubt,” Murray said. “With Teemu back it’s also Teemu in the dressing room, it’s Teemu walking into the rink every morning. I think we’re better.”
Selanne’s return delighted Ducks fans but saddened followers of the Winnipeg Jets who hoped he would return to the city where he set NHL rookie records with 76 goals and 132 points in 1992-93.
“They called my agent and asked if I was interested in coming back,” he said, “but when you have four kids and a couple of dogs and a couple of horses and stuff, so many things to move, there’s no way I can move anymore.
“But Winnipeg has been a special place for me and I’m very excited to go back and play there again.”