Monday morning found the LA Kings players and management meeting with media for the final time during the 2021-22 season. We’ve already posted thoughts from GM Rob Blake and coach Todd McLellan. Now, here’s what Drew Doughty had to share…
On roster improvements this season
Those signings and trades we made with Arvidsson and Danault, those couldn’t have worked out any better. We’re going in the right direction. I’m very pleased with the way we progressed this year and I’m looking forward to next year. I think we’re gonna be a really good team. I know the season just ended and I wasn’t playing, so I’m already excited for next season. I can’t wait to get going because I think we’re gonna be really good. I still believe [management] might even do a little bit more [to bolster the roster], so we’ll see what happens. I think we’re gonna be a team that can win some playoff series next year.
On how he evaluates the younger players, having been on the sidelines watching them
You get to see more of it. When you’re in the game, you’re not really paying attention to the people’s shifts as much as you maybe are when you’re watching. So, I was able to pay more attention to the D than I was to the forwards, and they did a great job. I’m very impressed. We’re gonna have some problems on the right side there because we have a lot of guys and a lot of good players. I think all of them are NHL players. That’s not for me to deal with, but I’m very impressed with them. I thought they had a great season, they stepped up. The good thing about them is, you can see where the room to improve is, and it’s not things that they can’t do. It’s just things that they don’t know yet. We’re gonna be able to help them with that and they’re just gonna get better. The future is bright for a lot of those young guys.
On ‘playoff Mikey’ vs. ‘regular season Mikey Anderson’
I was pretty happy with that. He was getting in a bunch of scrums and punching people in the face and stuff. I loved it! Mikey did a good job, man. He didn’t play for however long right before playoffs, and I thought he had a good playoffs. So credit to him for sticking with it when he was injured. Because when you’re just kind of injured and don’t know when you’re going to be back, it sucks. You can easily go the wrong way and just kind of get lazy with it because you’re just sick of doing it. Good for Mikey.
On the likelihood of him playing in the playoffs, should the Kings have advanced
I think we were gonna rush it back, maybe Conference Finals. I was gonna try. I told them, even if we make the finals, ‘I’m gonna play. I don’t give a shit.’ … [I’ll be ready for camp], no problem. I should be good to start skating – what is it, five weeks right now? So maybe another five weeks or so. [It was a] tendon tear, but I’m okay. I already feel really good.
On what piece(s) he feels the organization are still missing
I don’t want to say we’re like missing things, but I think we could add some toughness. That would be good. Maybe like a bigger guy on D; besides [Edler], we’re all just kind of little guys. I think we could always add a scorer, that’s still our downfall – not scoring. Our power play was not even close to good enough. I think we could add another maybe top-six guy that puts the puck in the net. I think that’d be great. I don’t know what we have to do, that’s just my opinion. It’s up to them to decide.
On Mikey Anderson maturing into a player is more like a veteran
He does have that in him. Out of the young guys, he’s definitely the most mature and the guy that would be a leader down the road for us. I still see him as a rookie. No, he does a great job and he’s taking that step. He definitely has to be in that secondary core, or whatever we call it, for the leadership group because he deserves to be in it. He’s stepped up. No doubt, he’ll be wearing a letter one of these days. No doubt about it.
On trying to add value by being around the team during the playoff run, even though he was injured
I just tried to keep it loose for the guys. A lot of them had never played in the playoffs, they’re young. You could tell a lot of them were — not a lot of them, but a few of them — were nervous. I just tried to have fun with it. I can keep the room light, make them laugh and, at the same time, give them some insight on what was happening throughout the series. They would ask me, ‘What are you seeing here, what are you seeing there?’ I would help them with that. I was just there for encouragement and I’m very happy I got to go because it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed watching those games and being a part of them in some sort of way. I think it was useful, me going.
On continuing to play with Mikey Anderson in the future
It sucks that we both had injuries because we were both playing well this year. I’m really excited to keep going with him. He’s just gonna get better and better. As he gets better, and I do too, we’re just gonna gel better. It’s gonna make it great. The best thing about us is, we just really care about not letting the other team score on us. Honestly, that’s what we care about the most. That’s what I love about playing with Mikey. He is a competitor, and he likes keeping the puck out of his net. We just got to work on his little baby shot a little bit.
On the thought of starting next season without Dustin Brown
Oh, fuck. That’s hard to even to talk about Brownie. He was my roommate my first year in the league; somewhat of a father figure / brother to me – one hundred percent. He taught me so much from the get-go. I love him so much. We’ve had other guys leave, like Greener that meant a lot to me, but Brownie, man – it’s gonna be weird being here without him. I love him and I’m gonna miss him. It sucks. But, you know, it’s part of the game; people retire and move on. I’m not worried about it. I’ll still see him all the time, talk to him all the time. I’m not too worried about losing a friendship or anything like that. We’ll be friends forever.
On what he was thinking while sitting on stage on Brown’s retirement press conference
I was just like, ‘Don’t cry!’ And then, you start thinking about, ‘Fuck, when am I gonna retire?’ Then, man, you start thinking about that and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to even think about that’ because I don’t want that to happen for a long time. But it was awesome. I thought the press conference was great. I thought his son did a great job talking, so did Brownie and Nicole. That was just awesome. Brownie deserved that. He means so much to this organization. No one’s done more than he has.
On behind the scenes memories with Brown
My memories with Brownie are probably just us in our hotel room. We would order four desserts; we got two each every night before the game. That’s a memory of mine. Then, I was his coffee guy. So every morning I had to go get him his coffee, bring it back. I was the thermostat guy, and he was the curtain guy. I was also the alarm guy. I remember one time I made us late in Colorado. He gave me shit for that one. We were just talking about that the other day. [Hoven: He trusted you with the alarm?] He trusted me! It was like my second year in the league, and he was the captain. I made him late for the game. No one found out though, we snuck in.
On which step is harder – going from being a non-playoff team to a playoff team, or going from being a playoff team to contender
I don’t know, that’s a hard one. It seems like it took forever to get back into the playoffs, so I don’t know. I would say that part is harder, to build a team that can actually get into the playoffs. But, to become a contender, now we have a lot more work to do, but because we did what we did this year, I’m sure coming to LA for some other players probably looks pretty good. They might want to come here. They see what we’ve built. They see where we could be going. That’s always good. I hope we’re a contender next year. I really do. I think it’s possible. It’s not gonna be like Colorado or something, but I think it’s possible. We almost beat Edmonton while missing two of our top four D and one of our top three forwards. We went to game seven. I think if we were in there, it’s going to be a lot different. But it’s easy to say that now.
On if that’s how he looks at the series, ‘What if I was in, it would be different?’
Obviously, throughout the series I kept thinking that, ‘I know I could help right now’ and stuff like that. At the same time, what the guys did without us, that was motivating because we were missing these important players on our team and we took the Oilers to Game 7. We weren’t even expected to make the playoffs because of all the injuries we had. We went through so much crap this year. Everyone wants to talk about Vegas having all these injuries; we had the same stuff. I’m just really proud of what the group did and it’s almost good that we weren’t playing because we got to show everyone what we could do without some of our top guys. Like I said, it’s just motivating that we were able to do that without our guys. Now, what can we do with them?
On if he looks back on the 99-point regular season with a similar lens
Exactly. It’s impressive. The whole season, everything, just a great job by the guys. Great job of the coaches. Everyone up top. Everybody just did a great job. Didn’t expect that. Honestly, when I went down – whatever three, four games into the season – my first thought was like, ‘Uh oh’ a little bit. Then, Walks went down the next day. I thought, ‘Uh oh, we might be screwed here.’ Then, they just went on a heater right away. I think they won like seven in a row or something. Pretty impressive, great season, very happy.
On what he likes best about Todd McLellan as a coach
He’s a good teacher. He really breaks down his video more than any other coach. Well, John Stevens really broke down video. Darryl would watch video with us; he wouldn’t really break it down. He would just – Darryl is a motivator. He knew how to press the right buttons to get you going and stuff like that. Whereas Todd is more of a teacher. In our system, some of the players don’t even have to think. We’re kind of structured in what we’re supposed to do. Obviously, some players are different, and they’re gonna make their own plays. But we’re literally structured on our breakouts, like perfectly. And that system is probably the biggest part to why we had 99 points and took Edmonton to Game 7 – all because that system can help young guys. It’s just in our brains what we have to do, so it makes it really easy.
On his pick for the Battle of Alberta in Round 2
I would think Calgary is gonna win. Now Edmonton fans are probably gonna come at me, but my pick would probably be Calgary.
On how he feels at this stage of his career
I feel great! I thought I had a really good season. I was buzzing. I thought I was playing great, just got screwed with injuries. If I kept going the way I was going, I think I would have for sure been in the talks again [for a Norris] and that’s where I want to get back to. I thought I’d get there two seasons ago too. I feel really good. I think I’m gonna have a great season next year. I’m excited to have a great off-season. I have a lot of time off right now, so I’m gonna work really hard to be in my best shape, as always. I’m looking forward to next year and I am excited for the future – even the years after that. I’m nowhere close to wanting to be done here. I feel great. I want to keep playing, my body is in good shape. I finally got hit with some injuries, but I’ll be fine. I’m just excited to keep going.
On people writing off Jonathan Quick
He’s just the biggest competitor ever. I knew that was gonna happen, like just knew that would happen. They gave [Cal Petersen] the big contract and you know that just drives Quickie. I knew this was gonna happen the whole time. I already knew. And then I knew once we got to the playoffs, he would take over. He’s just an absolute competitor; he comes up in big games. Yeah, we took Edmonton to Game 7, but mostly it was because of Quickie.
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