The State of Drew was different here this time around, but it was still interesting.
It always is when Drew Doughty and the Kings go to Toronto. Last year was especially frenzied because Doughty’s contract hadn’t been extended and, oh, how good would he look in Toronto Maple Leafs’ blue?
The topic at Monday’s morning skate was still about Toronto, but it was more about the 5-1 start the Maple Leafs have taken.
“I obviously grew up watching the Leafs, so I secretly want them to succeed, too, except for when they play us,” said Doughty, from London, Canada, about a two-hour drive from Toronto.
Toronto is the hottest team in hockey with the addition of John Tavares for a 1-2 punch at center with league scoring leader Auston Matthews. The Maple Leafs average 4.8 goals a game, but allow 3.7. The buzz is dialed up threefold.
Doughty hears it from friends.
“Yeah, but they’re in my ear at the start of every season,” Doughty said. “Ever since I was 5 years old, it’s the same stuff. … [But] this time, I definitely think the Leafs are for real.”
Doughty repeated that he never seriously considered going to Toronto, but he relished that “hearing all those questions about me coming was kind of fun.”
Doughty doesn’t mind the fish bowl that is Toronto, as long as he sees it from afar, and only once or twice a year. That’s partly why he stayed in Los Angeles. He likes his relative anonymity.
He still lets his candid nature run free, which raised another topic of whether the NHL needs more personalities like him.
“I’m sure we could,” Doughty said. “But we’re a team-focused people. The NHL — not that the NBA and football isn’t — but I definitely think there can be more of those individuals in [those] sports than they are these types of sports. We could use a little more of it, but we don’t want to override the league. We’re a team in here, and not one guy does the job for everyone.”
Jonathan Quick (lower body injury) began skating Monday and will take shots Tuesday, coach John Stevens said. Ilya Kovalchuk’s nagging “issue” arose from Sunday morning and wasn’t from earlier in the week, Stevens said. Kovalchuk participated in the morning skate and is expected to play.