Who Does Time Favor? L.A. Kings or Drew Doughty?

I have written several articles about Drew Doughty’s contract negotiations. A common theme has been the premise that time favors Dean Lombardi and the Kings. Today, while engaging in some very early morning gardening (you laugh and you’re dead), I challenged that very conclusion and this article was born.

Time. Precious. An ally when used well. An enemy in wait when discounted. Amidst negotiations, time only follows term in priority but the longer discussions fail and an impasse builds, the more time becomes a factor. In Drew Doughty’s negotiations, training camp is time’s critical locus while each day thereafter pushes the negotiations toward a hold out hemorrhage.

Who benefits from a stalemate? Who carries the biggest burdens? Who blinks first?

The L.A. Kings gain nothing of substance by failing to sign Drew Doughty. In fact, the greatest indirect benefit for the Kings is Drew Doughty knows he cannot start the season without a contract because to do so and potentially suffer a career ending injury would do exactly that – end his career. As such, pressure on Doughty is the L.A. Kings’ sole collateral benefit from ongoing discussions and/or a stand-off because he who carries the greater pressure often folds.

The Kings’ burden? Something I previously discounted but find more compelling today. Momentum. Dean Lombardi is trying to build a Stanley Cup contender. Tim Leiweke (emotionally invested on his own behalf, financially so on behalf of AEG’s hockey, downtown L.A., as well as NFL interests) does not want distractions from that express goal. Mike Richards and Simon Gagne were not acquired and the L.A. Kings haven’t been the toast of the off-season just so they can give the excitement and accumulating good will back by their young golden child snubbing his nose and turning away his half shaven face from the team’s progress. The longer this goes, the more the media, news outlets and blogs (except this one) write about Kings v. Doughty and less about the on ice product. If this builds to a hold-out, that distraction keeps Drew Doughty out of the locker room which shall have a tangible negative effect on the Kings’ defense, powerplay and, therefore, the team’s success.

Drew Doughty. Benefits? None. Unless you consider (as we did with the Kings, collaterally once again) the team’s burdens to be Drew’s benefit. As for burdens, plenty. A hold-out carries with it a list of problems. In no particular order: (a) the fans’ ire, (b) falling behind the fitness and game shape curve, (c) the perception (justified or not) of being greedy, selfish and a “typical” athlete, which, if the hold-out goes long enough, could stick and shadow him, (d) the post-signing pressure of “living up” to the expectations the contract numbers demand and, therefore, being placed on a super imposed critical microscope for the remainder of the season, and (e) the team’s lack of success…yes, that is his burden as well, because he is an essential part of the team and just as L.A.’s success is his success, the inverse also holds true.

So, what have we learned?

Neither the L.A. Kings nor Drew Doughty have anything to gain by a negotiation stalemate and/or a hold-out.

Both the L.A. Kings and Drew Doughty have much to lose by same.

What do I believe? Just as I have told you. There is an agreement in principle. Whether Shea Weber’s arbitration award blew that up or not, I do not believe but I also do not yet know for certain. I do know this must get done because time favors neither and both sides have too much to lose. GO KINGS!

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23 replies

  1. Funny you should be writing an article ab0ut this, as I very nearly asked you to state your
    present opinion on this, with your supporting argument.

  2. There is one other fringe benefit for the Kings if Doughty were to hold out. Obviously by no means is it preferable, but a very possible bonus comes from the fact that if our worst fears are realized and Doughty is unsigned through camp and the start of the season, there is suddenly 25 minutes of big ice time to get redistributed. Martinez gets a bigger role, jack gets leaned upon heavily, a spot opens for Voynov/Muzzin/Hickey/Deslaurier. Now that can go two ways, because jack could go backwards under such pressure, Martinez could get exposed with more minutes, the rookies could prove unripe. However from a Doughty holdout, others are presented the opportunity to shine in a big way.

    While I’m running through this ultimately depressing train of thought, let me add that from a purely positional standpoint, losing Scuderi or Mitchell is almost a bigger blow for the makeup of the team than it is to lose Doughty. We all saw what happens when Greene has to play top 4 minutes… I trust Johnson and Martinez to I’ll the top for roles more than I do Greene.

    Of course, the overall talent loss is unmistakable as an outright negative were Doughty to holdout, but as they say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, which for me makes the pressure Fall more on Doughty’s side. The Kings still get to ice a team if Doughty holds out and other players with the crown on their sweater reap Doughty’s loss, to the Kings benefit. Doughty has absolutely nothing to game from a hockey standpoint and only stands to gain from a monetary standpoint by holding out. The Kings have (ultimately unwanted) fringe benefits to gains from a hockey standpoint.

  3. Good thought process here..Thank you…
    I am going to make this thought my top priority this week, and hopefully be able to add the comment YES! very soon.
    Drew needs to be in camp day one..we need him
    Fit and Focused this season….
    Get it Done ..and a bit selfishly..I am going to my first FF and want to see #8 on the ice!
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  4. I very much agree that both sides start losing big-time if DD misses the beginning of camp. Big time. If we reach that point without a compromise that everyone can live with, then someone is overreaching. If DD stays at or close to the top of the comp-indicated range, then I believe
    the fault lies more with DL. In fact, if DD is there now, then I see little point in not going ahead and signing him now. I can think of no reason (upcoming event which would change the present dynamic) for DD to drop to the lower half of that range (i.e. negotiate against himself). Again – assuming that he stays at or near the top of that range and not above it (considering all the terms under discussion – rate, duration, distribution of payment, special terms, etc.).

    What I don’t see on DD’s side is a reasonable argument that his value should fall above the top of the range – that is the thing he cannot reasonably maintain that he has earned. Part of the problem here is projecting a long-term deal after two seasons – I thing we have all wrestled with this. But when you then think 2-3 years, it seems unattractive to all parties. So, sign him at or near the top of the range, as soon as possible, and object only to extras in excess of that amount. What is the most defensible, supportable range of value at this time? (It should always be seen as a range, and not a point)

  5. There may be a lot we don’t know about these negotiations. We all do NOT know what Drew is asking for, or for that matter, what he thinks he is worth. Lombardi’s position is tenable–the kid has to earn his money. Truth be told that Doughty may not have the maturity, focus, and yes even talent commensurate with what he thinks he is worth or what his agent thinks he can get. It is not reasonable to ask the Kings to accept all of the risk and pay for potential that may not be realized.

    Lombardi always acts in protecting his team, particularly when it comes to protecting assets. Being “cheap” is not the issue here–the Kings will be paying out total salaries pretty close to the cap limit. There has to be money for other players. Drew is not going to lead a team to a Stanley cup by himself.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Doughty. I want to see him do well. Moreover, I want to see him earn his money. He is going to make a lot of it, and at one point he will have to accept what he can get. To holdout longer than that will hurt his career, perhaps more than it will hurt the Kings. But both sides will be hurt no doubt…

    • Regardless of DL or DD,
      Closer we get to camp, the more both sides are going to feel the pressure to get it done. DD not making camp would be a failure for both sides, because of conditioning issues with DD, and solidifying the system for TM.

      DD eats up more minutes than any other player, and not having him here for camp will force TM to adjust during the exhibition season, without knowing how DD’s presence will effect the line up. Penalty Kill, Power Play, 5 on 5, match ups with our newest stud forwards. That will all take a hit.

      DD won’t know either, and most likely doesn’t want to go into the season without getting a chance to adjust either. That would make the exhibition games a wash, because instead of a honing in preparation for the season, once DD got there, we’d have to start all over again, when the games count.

      Starting the season out late for DD would be absolute fubar for everybody.

      • Let me ask, If DD isn’t already working on his conditioning at this point then what? At $6M + season he should be working out in his sleep…otherwise he seems just another 10-11 Penner in the making,

        But your right as far as revamping the PP, otherwise Murray can work around the guy.

        I don’t like this hoopla for a guy who remains unproven, is asking for the kind of money that comes with a history of accomplishment and has fans worrying about his conditioning.

        Fans should be saying sign it now and prove it.

        • Yes, exactly. His consistency is unproven. At times his maturity is lacking, and he may be susceptible to apathy if he gets everything he wants. Once again, I want him to do well and earn his money. He also needs to be realistic in terms of getting what he can.

        • How do you sign a contract for future years and “say prove it”? Even if he proves it, the price was already set.

          • Yeah, that seems to be the thing. At least your not dinging me on how much…

            So, what if its back loaded and he’s a dud…or worse he is on track to become great…at 28?

            Is there a reason (other then greed) for this dragging out when he’s still just learning the game?

            Before worshiping at the alter of Doughty I suggest we wait to see if he can part the sea, first.

            But that’s just me.

          • I have the same feeling regarding Doughty’s unproven body of work. He would not be overpaid if I was in charge. Fair value works both ways. I, also, have no doubt, when he decides to focus and discipline becomes priority he’ll be special…..

            I’m in favor of shorter contracts (for both sides, really) so the individual can be paid according to performance. You play well, you get paid. You play average, you’re paid average……I’m simple that way. Does simple exist anymore? :)

          • Simple seems elusive in a an era where every child won a trophy.

            I think your position is the most reasonable. It may even afford a better chance to resign when he hits his prime.

            I guess it’s a little old school however.

          • I agree with you, with a big smile on my face……old school, indeed. Not everything old is outdated, is it?

          • Just my point. If you have not proven yourself (and Drew has not proven he’s worth >6 million a year), you should not get that much. For the most part, sports contracts are signed based on what you have done in the past, assuming the athlete will perform at the same level.

            In Drew’s case, a lot of this money is based on growth that is assumed. Roll of the dice I’d say…

  6. The Kings would gain four 1st round draft picks if they fail to sign Doughty. Drew would gain being an Islander for his prime, a nasty fate…

  7. A lot of these problems are often partially resolved by incentive clauses – by setting compensation to multiple hypothetical future events. Of course, if a party wishes to purchase
    certainty/security, then it must be bargained/paid for… This is often where overreaching
    occurs (agreeing to main terms, then trying to overly shed risk on the back end of the negotiaton w/o revisiting main terms).

    My guess is that we’ll start hearing specifics if this drags towards camp – at which time the debate may become increasingly public and bitter, and face-saving more difficult (who “blinked”, and all that kind of rubbish).

    My wish is that both sides heed the reality of the market, and avoid being prideful. This isn’t the NBA situation, but rather the NFL situation – reasonable money is available, so that we can all turn to the real pursuit that this business is all about – a kind of glory.

    • I was thinking the same thing about incentive clauses but when a game is on the line and a 2 on 1 happens…and he’s looking at that kicker goal…does he hold the puck and shoot or pass to the open skater?

  8. If the deal were in place as far as money and terms go, and the Doughty camp were just waiting to see what Weber got from the Preds, they have their answer now, and we should be able to move forward and get a signing. If the sticking point is a NMC then we may end up with a holdout situation, because I don’t think that you can really say that Doughty has shown the maturity for a NMC. If he had been showing up to camp in shape and working on all the aspects of his game (he still makes some very costly mistakes) then I would say give it to him. I’m getting the nasty feeling this is going to be a hold out situation, to the detriment of Doughty’s career.

    • A hold out only benefits the agent, I sure hope Doughty is smart enough to know that. I expect Doughty to tell his agent to get a deal done well before camp opens up, if not, then he needs to fire his agent.

      Right now, this is between Dean and the agent, I doubt Doughty is involved much in the negotiations at this point.

  9. One thing worth mentioning is POS’s holdout and what that did to him and his career.

    It’s astonishing to think that he still hasn’t rebounded in the slightest.

    Maybe he’ll find himself in Phoenix, but without Bryzgalov in net, I don’t think the Coyotes will be the team that they were the past couple of seasons.

  10. Had no idea….I’d never have believed it. Emblematic of the sad state of POS’s career.

    Wasn’t it just last year when Phoenix salary dumped by trading a higher paid third wheel defenseman for POS and then bought out the lower priced POS contract later that day?


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