The Los Angeles Kings held their final practice of the 2016-17 season on Friday, and while there didn’t appear to be any deviation in the focus or efforts during the skate, it did begin to feel like the final day of school was near.
Exit meeting player availability will be next week, and a more thorough illustration of players’ sentiments will be shared then, but on Friday, Drew Doughty, a leader in both the team’s emotional involvement and its top executor of on-ice objectives, spoke about the most frustrating aspect of not playing past April 9.
“The most frustrating? The fact that we have two more games to play and they don’t mean anything,” he said. “You come down to these games basically every season I’ve been here, besides my first season, these last two games meant something. These are the most fun games, the end of the season. And our last five games basically meant nothing. And to have that feeling, it sucks. It’s embarrassing and I think that we had a lot better in here this year and we obviously failed to be better. Everyone else is playing for a position in the playoffs, who they’re going to play and all that, and I wish we were, too. Because, like I said, the most fun time of the year is right now.”
Continuing his reflection, he said he takes the early elimination “a little bit personally.”
“I put a lot of that on my shoulders,” he said. “I did feel like I played well for the majority of the season but at times I could’ve been better and made a difference so it’s frustrating that at those times I didn’t step up and make a difference and help us out more.”
Through 80 games, Doughty has 10 goals, 42 points, a plus-six rating and a 55.7% raw Corsi percentage. He has appeared in a team-best 242 consecutive games since his shoulder injury late in the 2013-14 season at San Jose.
Doughty, on any message he might have for the fans as the season wraps up:
You know what? My parents were actually in town this week, so they were at all the home games and they were shocked at what kind of support we had in the stands even though we were out of the playoff spot. [Reporter: I sat in the stands like two games ago.] Yeah, two games ago. [Reporter: I felt the same way. They were really upbeat.] So they were shocked at that and we felt it as players on the ice and that’s probably a big reason to why we beat Edmonton, is because of the fans. They kind of kept us in the game, so I guess to them, thanks for being there the whole time and even to the last game and next year we’re going to come back and try be on top again.
Doughty, on whether he’ll play in the World Championships:
I don’t think so. I don’t know yet, but I don’t think so.
Practice photos, courtesy of Jon Bradley (follow him on Instagram here):