Terry Murray feigned surprise when he picked up the phone. “Why are you calling?” Yes, he knew, to talk about Drew Doughty’s new contract and the impact on his team. The big question, going forward, is when Doughty will be able to play a game. The Kings will hold a Saturday-afternoon practice in Las Vegas for guys not in the lineup that night, then they will practice in Europe on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday in advance of Friday’s season opener. Murray said he’s planning on having Doughty in the lineup for that game, and Murray talked about having Doughty back in the fold…
MURRAY: “I’m real happy for Drew Doughty and I’m real happy for the team, all the players in the locker room. There’s no question that with him coming back in, there’s just going to be a real good feeling in the locker room.”
Question: What he brings on the ice is clearly unquestioned, but just to have this whole issue resolved, is that almost as important to the team?
MURRAY: “That is a part of the business that I think everyone in it today understands, and realizes that this is part of the process sometimes. It’s been out there now for quite a few years and other players have gone through it. You go through it and you come out the other side and hopefully it works out for both sides and everybody can shake hands at the end of the day and can move by it and just start to play hockey again. That’s the way it is for me. I’ve been through this with other players. With Drew, I’m real happy. I’ll give him a big hug and say, `Let’s get back to playing the game that you love to play.”’
Question: I know you haven’t even seen him yet, but do you have any thoughts about what the next week might look like for him, when he might be able to play?
MURRAY: “I’ve given it just a little bit of thought. The plan is to get him in here and get him through his physical. I’m hoping that he’s able to fly over to Vegas with us. We have some ice time at 2 o’clock in Vegas (on Saturday) and we’ll get him on the ice with the guys who are not in the lineup that afternoon. Then off we go to Europe. So, we’ll have some time. We’ll get lots of practice work in. I’m planning on that first game of the season. I know he’s been skating up in London with Dale Hunter and the London Knights, so he’s certainly been getting ready to play. I’m sure he’s feeling good, really excited, a lot of adrenaline flowing. So there won’t be any hesitation on my part. As I said, I have gone through this, with players coming in the day before the season, and I put that player in the lineup, because you talk to them and they feel good. They feel that they’ve been skating and their conditioning is, not necessarily in top shape but they feel confident that they can play and contribute. So, with the week in front of us, I feel really good about Drew being ready to go.”