From Vancouver, Canada
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty asked his father to make sure the text message he had gotten from a friend wasn't a joke and that he truly is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's top defenseman as voted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Assn.
It was no prank. It also won't be a one-time honor.
Doughty, third among defensemen in scoring this season with 59 points, will be 20 years and six months old when the trophy is awarded in June. He would be the second-youngest Norris winner behind Bobby Orr, who started a streak of eight straight triumphs at the age of 20 years and three months. Washington's Mike Green and Chicago's Duncan Keith are the other finalists.
"It's pretty cool. Bobby Orr was one of best defensemen to play the game," Doughty said Friday. "To be close to doing the same thing that he did is kind of surprising, I guess, to me, but it's very humbling as well."
Winning the Norris wasn't on his preseason to-do list but he opened a lot of eyes while winning an Olympic gold medal for Canada and by playing an outstanding two-way game for the Kings. He led them with an average ice time of 24 minutes, 58 seconds and was +20.
"My first goal was just to play hard for the Kings and make them a playoff team and then get a shot at making the Olympic team," he said. "As the season wore on, I kind of knew that I was getting mentioned in that category and from then on I made it my goal to hopefully be a finalist."
His teammates considered it well-deserved.
"It's a great accomplishment for Drew," said his defense partner, Rob Scuderi. "Regardless of whether he wins or not, to make that step in your career at such a young age is a real accomplishment.
"As long as he works on his consistency and being like that night in and night out I think he'll be mentioned as a finalist a few more times."
Dustin Brown sees it as another step for a team that is in the playoffs for the first time in eight years and hasn't had a player win a major NHL award since Rob Blake won the Norris in 1998.
"We're starting to, I don't want to maybe put this title on him, but we're starting to maybe get some superstars to play here in L.A. and that's a result of good drafting and keeping them here," Brown said.