Understanding The Drew Doughty Negotiations & The Tactic Of Delays

So much said, so much written about the Drew Doughty contract negotiations. While numbers ruled July, August has been the month of “delay.” I have listened and read pause and panic passed off as pontification as if the passing days toward the season somehow spell disaster. The very word “delay” has become synonymous with doomsday for some, as they speak of holdouts and the puck dropped at center ice without number 8 at our blue line.

This article is written for our readers whom I love, whose numbers are in the thousands, who read, respond, participate in our productive dialogue and have not wavered in their confidence that Drew Doughty will be signed and remain a L.A. King. As for the non-readers, the chicken littles who are crying holdout or predicting Armageddon, perhaps you will take a few notes and learn something along the way.

Delay is control. It is the very equivalent of having the puck on your stick and, just like hockey, negotiations require the effective use of position and patience to create openings. Think Sidney Crosby, not John Zeiler. The puck, in such bargains for exchange, is the means to keep your opponent watching, not doing, waiting for your move. Thus, when an offer comes your way, you do not rush to respond. Do so and you show anxiety. Do so and you show weakness. Do so and your opponent gains momentum and will work hard to never give it back. Do so and you lose control.

Delay is pressure and there are only two responses to the latter – focus or fold. The majority fold. Experienced negotiators, be they in my world of law and business or in Dean Lombardi & Don Meehan’s world of sports, focus. How many times have you “wanted” something so badly that you paid too much or sold too fast. That “rush” was the application of pressure to your psyche that forced you to “buy” or “sell.” That rush crashes stock markets, gives it false gains, created, in part, the real estate bubble and, in negotiations, is the death of your position.

Delay is power. There are two ways to get through a locked door. Break it down or wait for your opponent to open it. Forcing your opponent to do what you want is the ultimate power in any negotiations. The greatest success comes when your opponent has strings hanging from his or her head, arms and feet and you are the puppet master.

Delay is deception. Ever bought a car? A boat? A house? Did you sit there, exchange numbers, shake hands and were done? Did you reflect? Give the “can’t afford it line” while the other side gave you the “can’t go any lower” response. Walk away? Did the dealer or agent give you a no, when it was a strong maybe? You didn’t stop negotiations. You yielded. You misdirected. Sometimes, you flat-out lied. You did so because those means justified your intended end.

But they’re not talking? Is that not cause for worry? Some preach this is so because there is no agreement and thus, they’re not close and there must be express discord. Those may be the same who think discussions between Dean Lombardi and Don Meehan should go something like this:

Don: “7.5”
Dean: “6.5”
Don: “7.3”
Dean: “6.7”
Don: “7.1”
Dean: “6.9”
Don: “Ok, 7 it is. Now, let’s talk about years. You start…”

All of this in one phone call, right?

Not so much. There is a “when” to this process, not just a “how much” and “how long.”

Lombardi and Meehan have history. Each wants to keep the other off balance and bring as much uncertainty as possible to the table. The L.A. Kings want Drew Doughty. Drew Doughty and his agents want money, lots of it, and security to keep Drew Doughty a member of the L.A. Kings. Each side wants something. Each side wants to win. So, when the proverbial puck slowly goes back and forth with weeks of delays by Lombardi followed by weeks of delays by Meehan, it’s not because Drew Doughty is going to hold out, his agent is an insufferable greedy son of a bitch (which is, in part, in his job description) or Lombardi doesn’t place tremendous weight to Drew Doughty’s value to the organeyezation. It’s simply because they are playing chess while some who pretend to know what is going on here are wondering why this checkers game is taking so damn long.

Can delay have a negative component to it? Of course. There are egos at play, big ones and sprinkle some history and a general, unspoken dislike and you have the recipe for tactics that have a directed message of self fornication therein. That is expected. For those who don’t care for a little spice in their colloquy, well, then sit on the bench and watch quietly.

Fortunately, on the surface, we have seen little discord. About the only time there is cause for caution is when overt negative comments are made by one side or another. Have you noticed a single doomsday prediction by Lombardi or Doughty’s agents? A lot of typical rhetoric, I know, but nothing disconcerting. Some attach significance to Jack Ferreira’s comments. I would respectfully submit that may be a lack of knowledge at play. I have spoken with those who know Jack well. He is an intelligent, articulate, experienced and savvy individual. Dean Lombardi was wise to choose Jack by his side. However, know that with Jack comes an agenda or, better written, when Jack speaks of Drew Doughty and tactically makes available his private comments to Dean Lombardi for public consumption, that is with purpose to win favor with the second most important spectator of these negotiations – the media. To that end, both sides are holding their own on that battle front.

Voltaire said, “a long dispute means both parties are wrong.” I will add a long dispute may also mean both parties know what the other wants and are willing to wait to win. I don’t have a crystal ball of course but I do know quite well how these negotiations have been going. So, when confronted by those who can’t find answers to fluid negotiations in their spread sheets, take a step back and think about the last time you had a great bottle of wine. It didn’t come to you within minutes, days, weeks or months of the ripened grape.

Relax about Drew Doughty and enjoy the ride to one of the most exciting L.A. Kings’ seasons on the immediate horizon. We are in this one together. Be excited. Goodness knows Jacob and I are. GO KINGS!



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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10 replies

  1. Love it, Bobby. My only request would be for you to elaborate on what constitutes “long” (as in your Voltaire quote) in a situation like this. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t a thing about these kind of situations when it comes to the finer details so…

    To be completely honest, even with my ignorance on the subject, I’ve become indifferent as to whether or not he’s on the team anymore, especially comparing last season’s performance with the amount of money he (or Meehan) is asking for. I think most will agree he’s no Shea Weber.

    There are pros and cons all the way around and in weighing them (to the extent my limited knowledge will allow me to) I’d much rather let him go. Then again, I’m a hard ass when it comes to this kind of stuff I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about to begin with.

    • The start of the season is a nice barometer for where the negotiations are. If it gets to that point and there is still no contract, then there can be some caution (which is different from panic).

  2. Pie in the sky conjecture.. Nothing more, nothing less… Oh, the dog days of summer… gKg!

  3. Did you guys see the kings highlights on the front page of nhl.com? I had fun watching some of the gems from the past season. Can’t wait to see even more in the coming season and hopefully post-season.

    GO KINGS GO!

  4. Delay can be a killer, when the delaying side avoids regular/routine contacts and then is subjected to a change in circumstances and must initiate unplanned contacts and a speeded-up process aimed at closing. That is why it makes sense to remain engaged in a regular process, if only apparently engaged, so as to avoid tipping this if it happens. Tip that and may as well go in naked – save yourself the indignity of being required to drop your shorts – or have them torn off. Of course, when the variables/timeline can be predicted in advance, or especially if the opponent is the more likely party to suffer a change in circumstances, then delay more clearly has value.

  5. Drew is asking for too much (not just the money) and DL won’t give in, nor should he. Your point is that both sides are waiting it out, but this seems very unlikely that this will help Doughty in terms of concessions from DL.

    Has this reached the point where it will affect Drew’s play for the coming season? I hope not, and the post above seems to imply that it won’t.

  6. I’ve been on vacation the past two weeks……and I see we’re in the same spot. I was hoping I would come home to a little surprise. :(

    What’s up brothers and sisters?

    S&S, when will ticket madness begin?

  7. Just another reason for “the sky is falling” types to freak out, and panic. It’s like when you see some fire and brimstone type preacher, standing on a street corner saying “we’re living in the final days till armageddon”. These same types often drag rational people in, and before you know it, even the rational ones are freaking out, and don’t even realize their doing it.

    The most irrational of all, are those who actually hate DD now, because he didn’t sign in their expected time frame. This has lead to absolute panic. In one of your analogies, these would be the “SEL, SELL, SELL!” types.

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