Player evaluation: Doughty
This season: 77 games, 10 goals, 26 assists, minus-2 rating.
The good: When Darryl Sutter came on board, Doughty became a different player. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but that’s doubtful. Doughty, more than anyone, seemed a bit on edge when Sutter arrived, almost as though he knew that the new teacher might be rapping on his knuckles a bit. Doughty made a big turnaround over the second half of the season and, throughout the playoffs, seemed to be the same type of player he was in 2009-10, when he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy. If not for Jonathan Quick’s sustained excellence, Doughty would have been a well-received winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.
The bad: The reason Doughty had to make a second-half turnaround is because his first half wasn’t very good. There’s probably a number of factors involved in that, although most are tied (directly or indirectly) to the contract dispute that caused him to miss all of training camp. It’s no exaggeration to say that Doughty’s struggles were a major reason as to why the Kings were in 11th place in the Western Conference deep into the season. Doughty’s skill level remained consistent, but too often he tried to run around and be a superhero, rather than stay with the poised, simple, effective play that had been known as his staple.
Going forward: Did Doughty figure it all out? Perhaps more than any other Kings player, he seemed to embrace Sutter’s coaching style. His effusive public praise of Sutter seemed genuine, and that’s a good sign for the Kings. A team’s best players don’t always have to love the coach, but respect is critical, and Doughty clearly respects Sutter. It should go without saying that Doughty also needs to remain in the good graces of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office this summer.