For the second time in his career, Drew Doughty was a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
For the second time in his career, Doughty missed out on participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“We’ve got to learn that we can’t leave to the last minute, the last few games of the season to try and get in the playoffs, so we learned a lot,” he said Friday morning. “We were embarrassed that we didn’t make the playoffs last year. We were pissed off and I haven’t seen our team come to camp more determined than we are this year. So I’m really looking forward to getting the season started.”
Missing the playoffs – through no fault at all to Doughty, who produced one of the finest seasons of his distinguished, young career – obviously did not sit well with any player on the club. That’s underscored when referencing the emotional and gifted Doughty, who hardly seemed to come off the ice last season.
By averaging 29 even minutes of ice time, Doughty’s average time on ice was 2:36 more than any other year of his career.
“I’m sure there will be a few games where I get up close to 30 [minutes]. Knock on wood, but if there’s injuries or if someone’s not playing well or something like that [I’ll play more],” he said. “But for the most part, I think my minutes are going to come down. I’ll probably be in that 24 to 25 [-minute] area, which I know the team thinks is better for me just because I’ll have more energy shift-by-shift. I definitely worked hard to get my endurance up. My endurance is probably one of the best parts of my physical abilities. I’ve always had really good endurance, so I definitely tried to make it better this summer.”
That endurance was retrofitted by a strong summer of conditioning. After entering last year’s camp weighing 213 pounds, he was listed at 6-foot-1 and a svelte 201 pounds in the 2015-16 training camp media guide.
“All the guys are kind of laughing at me. They haven’t really seen me look like this, or this good, anyway,” he said. “I feel really good out there. I worked really hard this offseason. I had a lot of time obviously to work out and it was beneficial for me. I feel good, and I’m really looking forward to the season.”
While he’d be ably equipped to handle a similar workload in 2015-16 – and enjoyed the greater reliance last season – he understands that it’s in the team’s best interests to keep him in prime condition for what many inside and outside the organization have predicted could be another campaign that extends well into the spring.
“Yeah, I’m OK with it,” he said. “Whatever the coaches think is best for the team. They know best, that’s why they’re coaches. For however many minutes I’ll play, I’m going to be happy. We have five other D-men that will be in the lineup every night that are very capable players and very capable of playing big minutes. So whatever they have me playing, I’ll be happy and play my best at those minutes.”
Drew Doughty, on his first day of training camp:
It was a good one. The coaches made sure it was a hard day of practice to get our legs moving and we had a lot of battling. Throughout the summer, you don’t do a lot of battling in your skates back home or wherever you’re skating. So it was good.
Doughty, on the last time he had six-pack abs:
I’ve had it before, I just kind of lose it as the season goes on. So this year, I’m really going to try and focus on improving my game on the ice but getting in the gym a lot more throughout the season and keeping up my strength.
Doughty, on whether the team made an effort to come to camp in better shape:
The boys really put an emphasis on coming into camp in amazing shape. If you come into camp in amazing shape, all you have to worry about after that is sticking to the systems and playing hard on the ice and working well together as a team. So everyone made sure to do that in the offseason. Everyone looks great and now it’s just up to us to get back to where we were and making the playoffs again.
Doughty, on his first interactions with Milan Lucic:
He’s been here for a while, so the boys have had lots of time to go out with him for dinner, whatever it may be, hanging out with him anyway. He fits in great. He’s a great guy to have in the room, a great guy to have obviously out on the ice, too. He’s a very good player and we couldn’t be more happy to get him.
Doughty, on whether an angry attitude stuck with him throughout the offseason:
Yeah, it’s always in your mind. I’m pretty good about forgetting about hockey when I go home for the summer. I’m fine with just hanging out with my friends and family and not even thinking about hockey for a couple months. But once you start getting back on the ice, back in the gym, you know what you’re working towards. And that’s getting back to where we were and that was in everyone’s mind all summer.
Doughty, on a greater emphasis on earning points in the regular season:
Yeah, our division is obviously very tough and the two teams that beat us to get into the playoffs were Anaheim and Calgary. In our series against both of those teams, I’m pretty sure we lost. That was a big reason why we didn’t make the playoffs. So this year, division games mean a lot more than they ever have before and we’ve got to win all those series.
Doughty, on other advantages from a longer offseason:
Rest, we played a lot of hockey games in the last four years or whatever it was. We really played a lot of hockey games. Yeah, we’re going to say we’re not tired and we feel good, but eventually it does take a little bit of a toll on you. I’m not saying that’s why we didn’t make the playoffs, but it was good to get that rest. Everyone is rejuvenated and ready to go.
Doughty, on whether he took batting practice with the Toronto Blue Jays:
No, I’ve taken batting practice before and it didn’t go too well. I’m not going to batting practice at the Skydome until I get good, I guess.