If you can recall the 2013-14 days of yesteryear – or, as it’s more widely known, the 2013-14 pre-season – Drew Doughty wore an “A” on his jersey during the Frozen Fury games in Las Vegas. “Higher expectations of Drew,” was the explanation Darryl Sutter gave for the sudden vowel placement.
Between then and now, Doughty won another Olympic gold medal and continued to embed himself as the brightest young defenseman in the sport. With those added accolades and the higher expectations that Sutter spoke of during the pre-season, the leadership quotient added the Kings’ formula has been provided with a heavier emphasis from Doughty’s axis of the dressing room.
“I think there has been a big growth spurt from him in that standpoint in the last year and a half, just being more vocal and saying certain things at the right time,” Dustin Brown said.
And then, following Los Angeles’ Game 2 win in Chicago, Anze Kopitar referenced a name that carries great weight when describing what Doughty means to this team.
“I’ve been saying this a couple years now, he’s our Nick Lidstrom,” Kopitar said Wednesday. “We all know what he did in Detroit for many, many years. I think Drew likes the big stage, obviously. He likes these types of games. He gets very emotional. I guess if you draw a line underneath that, he just brings his game to the next level at this time of year and these type of games.”
Dustin Brown, on Anze Kopitar comparing Drew Doughty to Nicklas Lidstrom:
I think, I mean I can’t speak for Kopi but the way I look at that is Drew has a long way to go to be a Nick Lidstrom. But I think he has the impact on our team comparable to the impact Lidstrom had on Detroit. Their skillsets are similar, but like I said, Drew has a long way to go to be that player but his impact on our team has a similar effect.
Brown, on whether Drew Doughty’s leadership ability has grown over his career:
Again, whether he has a letter or not, he’s a leader on our team. I think it’s a result of having the same group of guys and he’s kind of coming into his own as an off the ice type guy. With his personality and the way he matured, he’s starting to get to that time where he’s taking on more of a role.
Jarret Stoll, on Doughty’s impact on younger players:
He’s a very calm, relaxed guy in any situation. Nothing bothers him. I think that’s a good attitude, a good way to go about things. You don’t want to be too high and low. If you’re going to have a long career, you have to be even keeled to a degree and not let too many things bother you. Whether it’s coaches or wins and losses or the way you’re playing or slumps, there are a lot of things that can get you mentally I think. With Drew, he definitely knows how to handle that. He just plays the game. He can play 28, 30 minutes and play against top guys playing the power play, killing penalties. You see him lying down blocking shots in the playoffs. It’s a defenseman that does everything. We’ve got a lot of guys like that, but Drew is a special player. We all see it. When there are bigger game and bigger games he steps up, whether it’s the playoffs, Stanley Cup Final, Olympics he’s that guy.
Darryl Sutter, on how Doughty’s leadership has grown:
I think it’s fairly evidence in his performance. That’s how he demonstrates his leadership and how he plays. He’s an elite, top two-way defenseman in the NHL.