Doughty is back and a leader on the ice for the LA Kings

Making the team and fans happy to see him hit the puck

LA Kings veteran defenseman Drew Doughty is back on the active roster, ahead of schedule, after having spent about six weeks on the shelf with an injury to his knee. Doughty suffered the injury, the first most-concerning one in his 14-season career, during a knee-to-knee collision with Dallas Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa on October 22.

It was appropriate that his first game back in the lineup was against their arch-rival the Anaheim Ducks in The Freeway-Faceoff on November 30. The Kings lost the contest, 5-4, but gained the high-octane energy that Doughty brings to the team, in the clubhouse and on the ice.

“The thing I just missed was being with the guys,” Doughty said. “That third-period comeback was goosebumps feelings-type stuff. That’s the stuff you miss. You can watch and kind of get the same feeling, but it’s not the same as being in the game.”

With Doughty on the shelf, the Kings had a decent 8-6-2 record, but are hoping to win more games with him back on the ice. So far, the Kings have lost both contests with Doughty in the lineup, the Ducks and a 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames.

“I was a little worried before my first couple of shifts, I’m not going to lie,” Doughty said. “I haven’t been nervous before a hockey game probably since my first NHL game and tonight I kind of felt it. I haven’t played through an injury like this before, so I had a little butterflies.”

Doughty is the Kings’ leader in average time on the ice, playing almost four more minutes than any other teammate against the Ducks. So his presence is much-needed. And the fans also show appreciation - when Doughty controls the puck, at first one would think the “boo-birds” come out, but they are actually chanting “Drew.”

And for good reason. Remember all of his achievements - raising the Stanley Cup twice with the Kings (2012, 2014), Norris Trophy winner and a finalist four times as the NHL top defenseman, and won two Olympic gold medals as well as gold at the World Junior Championships and World Cup of Hockey with Team Canada.

Not only are his teammates and fans happy to have him back, so is head coach Todd McLellan.

“Pretty solid, calms things down, good vision, willing to shoot the puck, so we’re happy to have him back,” McLellan said.


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