“Jacob, talk me down.  I’m starting to get really nervous about Doughty.”

So Bobby said to me yesterday afternoon.  He often calls when he is feeling low, or confused, or in need of reassurance that his life isn’t the suffocating vacuum of lawerly scum that his subconscious knows to be true.  He calls a lot.

I obliged.

And I realized something.

Is Drew Doughty signing a 5 year deal really that terrible of an outcome?  There was a day, pre-Mike Milbury, when 5 years constituted a solid, very nearly long term contract.  Alas, those days are over.  The UFA age is no longer 31.  The age of 26-27 year-olds hitting UFA status are fully blown and fans of many teams who have lost the star players they painstakingly developed are just in need of being blown lest they blow the top of their craniums against the wall.  Jay Bouwmeester strung the Panthers along before bolting for Calgary.  Zdeno Chara left the Senators defense in ruins.  We watched our own Michael Cammalleri get kicked out of town before he could sniff his UFA years and then when they hit, leave Jerome Iginla and the Flames in his dust.  The Predators will likely lose Shea Weber.  The Wild already lost Marion Gaborik.  Their may be mass suicides in New Jersey next year if Parise leaves.  Ilya Kovalchuk gave everything to the Thrashers and as soon as he could, left his team without his services and ultimately a city without a team.  Now the league is convinced that in 5 years Steven Stamkos will be hunting down the biggest payday, allegiances to the Lightning be damned.

So we have some very real evidence to pause and be thoroughly concerned when considering the prospect of a 2016-2017 Los Angeles Kings team without a 26 year old Drew Doughty in his prime on the roster.

But why does this happen?  Are we all, at our cores, simply in want of the most money we can possibly get our grubby little hands on, whether it be for boons in lifestyle or bragging for status?  That can’t be the case.  Vinny Lecalvelier is still a Lightning.  Zetterberg and Datsyuk proudly don the red.  Getzlaf is still unfortunately a Duck, and Perry sadly still plays hockey.

What’s the difference?  Are these players just of different character?  I find that hard to believe as a rule to hold with any certainty.  The difference I see, is that bad teams lose their stars to UFA status and good teams retain them.

When you consider the possibility of Doughty signing a 5 year deal, you have to ask yourself, how good do you believe the Kings will be going into the 2016-2017 season?  How much will they have achieved?  Will there be a cup banner or two hanging from the rafters?  If there is not at least one new shiny banner in Staples Center, we have done much more wrong than fail to sign Drew Doughty to a contract longer than 5 years.  Taking on good faith for a minute that Doughty has more in the twinkle in his eyes than dollar signs, the amount of concern one places on Drew signing for 5 years bares a direct correlation to how much good faith you have in our team to succeed in the near-mid future.

Personally I refuse to base my opinions on the worst possible outcome.  I insist on believing the Kings will do great things in the next several years.  I trust that in 5 years we will be a better team than we are today.

If we now take this on good faith then both logically and emotionally we must quell our fears that a 26 year old Doughty would choose green over purple.  It is Doughty’s job to play fantastic hockey and to lead this team to places it has only sniffed at in the past.  Meanwhile, it the team’s job to make Los Angeles a place you don’t want to leave purely for more cash.  Forget Doughty all together and be optimistic that our team will do great things.  Suddenly we can start thinking about how the Canucks retained the Sedins.  We can consider ourselves the next Flames to clutch our own Iginla tight.  If a Cup is enough to keep Eric Staal in Carolina, then its good enough to keep Drew Doughty in Los Angeles.

Now, we do have to take some small consideration into Doughty’s motives for wanting a 5 year contract.  I see a few possibilities.  He could just be going with what his agent tells him is best.  He could be really excited to make the UFA payday as soon as possible.  Or, like most 21 year old kids, he may just not have any fucking idea what he will want or where he will want to be in his mid twenties.  When I look in the mirror, I find it to be a very difficult thing to condemn a 21 year old for not wanting to commit to something in his late twenties.  So I will assume this is the case with Doughty being hesitant to sign a deal longer than 5 years.  I’m OK with that line of reasoning.  This thinking fully allows for the Kings’ to convince him in those five years that this is definitely where he wants to play hockey for a long, long time.

If we hear in the next few weeks that Drew has signed a 5 year deal, catch yourself before your jaw flaps and compels hemming and hawing.  Think about how good the Kings are going to be this year.  Think about how much better they will be next year.  Think about the Cup.  That’s all that matters.  The rest will come.