Upon entering Dodger Stadium for Thursday’s press conference to discuss the Kings-Ducks outdoor game, it was hard not to immediately think of Drew Doughty talking about the idea last spring.
“I don’t understand how that would work,” said the Kings top defenseman earlier this year.
And just like he often did on the ice, teammate Rob Scuderi was quick to come to Doughty’s rescue at the time, explaining from across the room – “They’ll put an ice rink on the field Dewey.”
Laughter and more questions ensued that evening, so fast-forwarding to the present, the obvious opening question was there for the asking.
Now that he sees where the rink will be placed (it was outlined with markers on the field), is it all starting to make more sense?
“I think it’s going to be cool,” said Doughty, with a bit of laughter. “It’s going to be really cool. It’s going to be awesome to play in front of this many fans, the most I’ve ever played in front of is whatever the biggest building in the NHL is. I’m excited. I didn’t really think it was going to be possible.”
Of course, the only thing better for the 23-year old London, Ontario native would be to play it on the same field normally occupied by his beloved Blue Jays back in Toronto.
“Yes, that would be awesome,” he said with a smile wider than most kids on Christmas morning. “This will be a great event [though]. It’s going to be so different than the other ones. That’s the coolest part about it. Apparently there’s going to be a bunch of sand around the rink and some palm trees. I think that’s going to be really cool and people are going to be amazed at how good of a game and good of a turn out I think it’ll be…Dodger Stadium is beautiful. To have the first hockey game and be part of that game here will be an amazing experience for me. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of family and friends coming in from Canada to experience it as well.”
Ducks forward Dustin Penner agreed with some of what Doughty expressed and even expanded on things a bit.
“It’s going to be a game unlike any game I’ve played in,” said the hulking left wing. “Just being out here now and picturing colder weather with the palm trees and the ice…it’s going to be a real special game. I think everybody’s going to remember where they were when the Kings played the Ducks in the outdoor game.”
Always thinking one step ahead of everybody else, Penner even started to discuss what he might be wearing during the January game.
“Not sunscreen, I’m probably going to put that black tar-paint on [under my eyes]. I don’t know, maybe. What else could you wear? Maybe a tank-top, that’s pretty popular in California…Yeah, tank-top Ducks and Kings warm-up uniforms!”
Over on the other side, Doughty spotted one problem with the plan.
“It would be [a very LA thing to do] actually,” he said. “It’s all you see around the beach down in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. But, I don’t think Pens can fit in one.”
Yet, when it was noted that Penner appears to have lost quite a bit of weight recently, Doughty still wasn’t sure it would work.
“He’s still a big man. I think he always will be.”
Since we didn’t have a chance to get the retort to the retort while still at the ballpark, Penner took to twitter a few hours later, offering a solution to the concern raised by Doughty.
“We could use some of the grease from Dewey’s hair to help me slip into one,” read the tweet.
We’ll get more info on the weight he lost in just a minute. First, Penner wanted to share a few other ideas he had for how to give the game that classic Southern California feel.
“A sunhat,” he continued. “Girls in bikinis would be a good play. You could have Ryback [his dog] out in the sand. I should actually talk to Gary [Bettman] about that. We need a beach with an aesthetic view.”
The big man seemed to have all the bases covered, until we asked what type of things some of his teammates have been questioning about the game.
“We haven’t gotten that far yet. We’re still in training camp. I’ll let you know, though. I’ll text you,” he said, followed by one of his classic half-smiles.
Don’t fret though. He had more chirp in the chamber when we noted that Doughty has a full list of questions.
“I’m sure he does,” said Penner.
Before things get too far out of hand, back to the new slimmer look - how did it all come together for him this summer?
“I stopped eating entirely,” he shared. “There’s no secret. I don’t know who Paula Deen is, so that probably helps me. I hear her food’s not too good for you. Just hard work and great eating habits, not that I had poor before, but I think there are two scales, where as you get older, the eating habits have to get better. You have to find a happy medium.”
Even when asked about what appeared to be some recent criticism from Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau – where he described Penner’s pre-season play as ‘mediocre’ – it was still met with quick wit.
“I took it as a compliment,” remarked the two-time Stanley Cup champion. “I never got that much praise in LA. I didn’t think I’d been playing that well, but apparently…”
Meanwhile, Doughty had his own follow-up to some comments made by Boudreau – who earlier in the day had talked about the fact the Kings and Ducks really don’t like each other very much.
“Here it’s smiles,” explained the Kings defenseman. “But, obviously, on the ice we’re pretty big rivals. It’s great. We’re really developing that rivalry. We’ve had it for years, but I think it’s getting stronger and stronger. With this game, it’s going to make it even bigger. At the same time, a lot of people out East will be tuning into the game. A lot of fans don’t get to watch us because of the time change and us being out here in LA. I think it’ll be good for everyone.”
Well, finally, we had landed on something that Doughty and Penner just might agree on.
“It has to add to the rivalry when you play in an iconic event like this in a historic park [with] two teams who are literally forty miles apart, if that,” surmised the Ducks forward.
In the end, sharing the above quotes and stories in a small, personal setting following the televised portion of the press conference was fine, but Doughty admitted to not being nearly as comfortable about 30 minutes prior. When we noted that he looked pretty scared at one point, he didn’t even hold back on the reason why.
“I had to do a speech a couple of years ago after the parade there and it didn’t go over so well. I had nothing planned then and just winged it. I was hoping right when they said ['And now for the player's perspective']…I got nervous. I got the sweats going a little bit and bumped Carts and said ‘No way!’ I’m happy I didn’t have to say anything.”
No problem Drew. You’ve said more than enough.
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