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Kings say it's business as usual without Drew Doughty

GM Dean Lombardi said he hadn't spoken Saturday with the agent for the unsigned defenseman.

September 17, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings defenseman Jack Johnson negotiated his own seven-year, $30.5-million extension without an agent.
Kings defenseman Jack Johnson negotiated his own seven-year, $30.5-million… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Despite the absence of unsigned defenseman Drew Doughty, the Kings said their first day of training camp in El Segundo was business as usual.

"The plans do not change at all," Coach Terry Murray said Saturday. "We're going to miss Doughty. I wish he was here to be a part of it. He's a very important player, a big part of the locker room. He's a fun guy to be around. He's a great player for us but the plan does not change for the training camp. We have to get ready for the start of the year. We'll go through the same plan as we had in the early part of August."

General Manager Dean Lombardi said he hadn't spoken Saturday with Doughty's agent, Don Meehan.

Murray said he didn't think he needed to caution players against becoming distracted by Doughty's situation.

"Players use the opportunity, I guess, to get as much money as they possibly can. I don't begrudge anybody that," Murray said. "I'm not going to be upset at Doughty when it finally gets settled. I'm going to be very happy that he's here and welcome him to the team and let's get going."

There's no predicting when that will be following Doughty's rejection a few days ago of an offer that averaged $6.8 million a year for about seven years.

In the meantime, other players will get a chance to step up. Thomas Hickey, the Kings' first-round pick and fourth overall in the 2007 draft, analyzed the field and declared himself a candidate.

"You can't kid yourself. First thing you look at are one-way contracts because those are the guys that have earned them and the right to play here…and without him there's only six," Hickey said. "I think all the [defensemen] understand that and understand the style that he plays. It's a big void that's left open and I think some of my skills could be useful moving forward if he's not going to be here."

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Defenseman Jack Johnson, who negotiated his seven-year, $30.5-million extension without an agent, was ready to use his experience to help Doughty.

"I kiddingly told Drew I would have done his for free," said Johnson, who now seems underpaid compared with Tyler Myers (five years, $38.5 million) and other signings.

"I enjoyed it. I thought it was easy to do. I sat down with the Kings' management. I told them I don't want to play games with them or anything. I'm not doing this high-low stuff. Let's be fair and get it done. It was easy to do…..But everyone's different. Everyone has different needs."

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Saturday's first session featured newcomers Simon Gagne and Mike Richards at left wing and center, respectively, with Dustin Brown on the right. Brown said he was familiar with Richards from playing against him but didn't know Gagne well. "But that's what training camp's for," Brown said.

Gagne said he and Richards rekindled the connection they had established as Flyers teammates.

"It was good. Me and Mike are used to doing our thing out there and I'm sure it's not easy for Brownie to jump in but he was pretty good to adjust himself to us," Gagne said. "Me and Mike will try to adjust to him, too. I think it's going to be fun. It can be a really dangerous line if we click right away and no better way to start."

Richards said he's still settling in. "It's going to be a little bit of an adjustment but at the same time I'm excited to get it going," he said.

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The most closely guarded secret Saturday was Dustin Penner's weight.

The massive left wing said last week he had lost 10 pounds but wouldn't disclose the new number. Players hit the scales on Friday but members of the Kings' media relations staff said they hadn't gotten the results and Murray said he didn't know, either, though he said Penner's fitness test results were good.

Penner said he didn't look. "I tried this new thing where I close my eyes when I step on the scale and I don't find out until the media guide comes out," he said. "It's more exciting that way. We can have a watch party when it comes out."

Thanks to Lombardi it can now be revealed that Penner weighed in at between 242 and 243 pounds, down from 260 when he arrived from Edmonton in a late-season trade. Lombardi said Penner is "on the right track," but has a ways to go to reach optimal shape. Being in a contract year should be incentive for the lumbering left wing to get there.

Anze Kopitar said his surgically repaired ankle held up well after three hours on skates. "Not too much pain. It's still a little sore but that's just from the swelling," he said. "It's more uncomfortable than sore. So I'm not concerned about it at all."

Williams said he has fully recovered from shoulder surgery he underwent in early May. "There's no reservations. The shoulder's fine and I feel good," he said. "Preseason will be important for me as it will be for a lot of guys."

He also said the Kings' acquisitions of Richards and Gagne gave him optimism for the upcoming season.

"I think our team looks a lot more credible and a lot more scary offensively. I think in turn it probably has a little bit more respect in the league now," he said. "It's an exciting feeling coming in and knowing we're going to have such a good team and that we're going to be expected to contend for the crown this year."

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Colin Fraser (ankle surgery) and J.F. Berube (hip surgery) didn't scrimmage….Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall was in suburban Detroit for the funeral of his former Flyers teammate Brad McCrimmon, who died in the plane crash that wiped out the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of Russia's KHL

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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