Drew Doughty has skated a shift with 32 different defensive partners since he joined the LA Kings in 2008.
From Sean O’Donnell and Jack Johnson, to Rob Scuderi, Derek Forbort and everyone in between, the five-time All-Star has logged over 21,000 minutes of ice time in his 820 NHL games.
But now the player he’s played with more than anyone else in his career is gone.
“I’m here for the long haul. I want to be a King for the rest of my life. So I’m ready for whatever has to happen.” – Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin and Doughty played a total of 4,488 minutes together during their run as teammates. When the puck drops for the Kings matchup against the NY Islanders on Saturday, the reality will truly start to set in that Muzzin and Doughty won’t be able to add to their collective total ice time.
“It sucks, but we have to move on. It gives the young guys a good chance to play some more minutes, and the middle of the pack guys a good chance to become bigger leaders and have a bigger impact on our team.”
Doughty acknowledged that trades happen, but it doesn’t make it any easier to process the changes.
“It’s the worst part of the business. You create such great relationships with guys and all of the sudden they’re gone. You’re so used to seeing them and talking to them every single day, and then boom, he’s just not here,” Doughty said.
The chemistry between Doughty and Muzzin extended beyond their play on the ice:
“He’s got a great chance in winning the Stanley Cup. I wish Muzz the best, I hope he does really well [with the Maple Leafs]. …unless we’re playing against him, then I don’t want him winning,” Doughty said with a big smile.
Still, Doughty said he knows the trade and any subsequent changes mean that better days are ahead for the Kings.
“I signed here for a long time. I believe in everything this organization is about, and I believe [General Manager] Rob Blake will do everything in his power to get us back to where we once were. I know he will,” Doughty said.
This wasn’t the season the Kings had in mind when they re-signed Doughty to an eight-year deal and added Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer. Those moves signaled that the front office believed the team was still a contender.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t perform to the best of our abilities, which is why we’re having to do this,” Doughty said about the changes to roster. “This wasn’t our plan at the start of the season, but stuff happens.
“I’m here for the long haul. I want to be a King for the rest of my life. So I’m ready for whatever has to happen.”