Thursday, September 15, 2011

Doughty Damage Done

If you had come to me at the end of last season and said, "Queen, I know you love Drew, but getting him under contract is going to be a problem and you're going to end up disappointed in him" I would probably have laughed and then punched your lights out. Amazing how a summer can change things.

I finally have to admit it. I'm disappointed in Drew.

Drew Doughty could have the best reasons in the world for not having signed a contract up until now, but I'd still be disappointed. Because even if he's "right" to take the stand he has, he's still tarnished his reputation -- not just with the fans, but more importantly with his teammates. And whether he reports for training camp tomorrow (which is looking less and less likely by the hour), the damage is already done and there may be no way to clean it up -- at least not permanently.

Get ready to spend the season watching your back, my friend.
Publicly, his teammates will be stand-up guys and express the desire to have him in the locker room and emphasize that he's part of the team no matter what. They will say his contract is none of their business. But privately, they likely have the same frustrations any co-worker would have with someone who is perceived to not be doing things in the best interest of the team. "Who the hell does this guy think he is? You think we ENJOY giving up a Sunday to go put up with fans? He gets to make huge money and sidestep all the crap we put up with?"

The fan base will be even more critical. People like me who were Doughty fans previously may still adore him, but that adoration will always come with the caveat of "I love him, except for that whole contract mess in 2011." God forbid he makes it back and isn't perfect at everything -- fitness, on-ice performance, statements in interviews and interactions with fans. One wrong step and the moaning and groaning will start -- "I knew this would happen. This kid has ALWAYS been overrated. Now we have proof! He never should have gotten such a fat contract." And the Doughty haters already out there will be nodding their heads, saying "I told you so..."

The truth is at the end of the day, this whole situation is less about reality than perception. The thing Drew Doughty and his agent have done most poorly through this whole process is manage public perception. Because of that, he's painted himself into a corner where nothing he does from here forward will be good enough. The doubt in his ability, his motivation and his heart will always be there.

Maybe the Kings truly are the evil empire and Dean Lombardi is Darth Vader, trying desperately to neutralize this powerful young hockey Jedi. Drew is just trying to keep from getting screwed over. But is that what the perception is right now? Absolutely not. The perception is that he's greedy and selfish, and in the absence of information from the Doughty camp on their position and the rationale behind it, people will assume the worst scenario. Maybe even his own team mates.

At whatever point Drew Doughty resumes his career with the Kings, one thing is certain. He's no longer the same player we knew before this mess. He'll never be that person again.


  1. bah. Fans have a short memory for such things. If he plays like a Norris contender, they won't remember that there ever was a contract situation in summer of 2011.

  2. @friarpuck Devils fans don't have short memories about the way Niedermayer left NJ. He was whining about getting more money his whole career and when NJ was finally offering him what he wanted, he bolted for the Ducks. Now, a lot of Devils fans say they won't celebrate his jersey retirement the way they did for Dano and Scotty. Hardcore fans never forget. It's up to each individual fan, however, to decide if they'll forgive.

    Doughty has done a lot to damage his image, and the only thing he can do to repair it is to sign soon and play extremely well for the majority (if not the entirety) of the contract. THEN people will forgive.