So often on the ice, Drew Doughty takes matters into his own hands. So it would make sense for him to do so off the ice.
When it came to negotiating a contract extension with the Kings, Doughty eschewed his representation and took the unusual route of dealing with general manager Rob Blake himself. That resulted in the eight-year, $88-million extension that became official Sunday, along with the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk.
“He did a good job,” Blake said of Doughty.
It wasn’t an easy move for Doughty, who has been represented by Don Meehan and Mark Guy of Newport Sports Management.
“My agent did an amazing job for me forever and I’ll be friends with him until the day I die, but in the end, if you punch the numbers in and they’re taking 3%, the amount of money I saved doing the deal myself is ridiculous,” Doughty said. “Maybe they could’ve gone out there and got me more money and then that payment wouldn’t matter, but I was proud to do it on my own and [Blake] was unbelievable to work with.”
Doughty consulted with teammate Dustin Brown and worked with Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ executive vice president of hockey operations and legal affairs. The contract includes a no-trade clause for the first four years, and for the final four years he can submit a list of acceptable trade destinations, Doughty said. There is $20 million in signing bonus money, according to Pierre LeBrun of TSN.
It was the first time Blake negotiated with a player directly.
“It wasn’t a difficult process this week,” Blake said. “They were good conversations, and he kind of knew what he was looking for, and we knew what we could fit in. But again, I think when you have two sides that want to accomplish the same thing, things will get done.”
Ultimately, Doughty wanted reassurance from Blake and Kings President Luc Robitaille that they’re committed to winning and Doughty said, “they solved that problem right off the bat for me.”
Doughty has made a home in the South Bay, and will get married next month. He spoke from his hometown of London, Canada, south of Toronto.
“It’ll be nice not to have to answer the questions, ‘Hey, are you coming to Toronto?’ ” said Doughty, who could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer. “Because every time I’m out in public around [London] that’s the question … so I am relieved in that sense, but I’m just so excited and so honored, I couldn’t be happier to be in L.A. for another eight years. I’m just so happy.”
Doughty immediately saw himself on the power play with Kovalchuk to plug a hole that has been present for some time.
“Ever since Slava [Voynov] left, we haven’t had that combo, where [Anze Kopitar] is on the half-wall on the power play; we didn’t have that combo one-timer for a long time,” Doughty said. “I can see Kovalchuk sitting in that [Alex] Ovechkin spot there and putting pucks in the net for us. He’s obviously still really hungry and I’m really excited at the signing.”
Kovalchuk will be formally introduced July 14 but said through a team spokesman that the prospect of winning drew him to the Kings. The organization has raved about his physical fitness at his age, which Kovalchuk playfully backed up.
“I’m a young 35,” he said.
The former 50-goal scorer will return to the NHL after five seasons in Russia. He didn’t see that as a detriment, though.
“To me, it’s nothing unique,” Kovalchuk said. “I’m the kind of person, I always love those challenges. With the group of guys we have, I didn’t meet most of them yet, but I am very excited about where I’m going.”
Kovalchuk’s three-year, $18.75-million contract pushed the Kings against the salary cap and they were otherwise quiet on the first day of free agency. Former Kings prospects Kevin Gravel and Michael Mersch signed with the Edmonton Oilers and Dallas Stars, respectively. Tobias Rieder, who arrived to the Kings in the trade for Darcy Kuemper, also signed with Edmonton.