Drew Doughty, and a Question for LA Kings Fans: Is This the Leader You Want?

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Drew Doughty, and a Question for LA Kings Fans:  Is This the Leader You Want?
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates following his teams victory over the Minnesota Wild at Staples Center on February 24, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Wild 4-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Bleacher Report's own Featured Columnist Nicholas Goss wrote an article today posing a fair question: At this stage of the game should the Los Angeles Kings consider trading Drew Doughty's rights?  

Goss made some excellent points about Doughty and his off year, making firm points that he shouldn't be one of the highest paid blueliners in the league.

That could very well be the case. But my question heading into the 2011-2012 season isn't about the dollars of Doughty's deal. It's about the sense.

He has already reportedly turned down a nine-year deal worth $6.5 million. That's a hefty chunk of change, and if you ask me, is plenty for what Doughty brings to the table. If nine years is too long at that "low" cap hit, give him a two or three-year deal to earn a bigger one.

In my mind, if Doughty really wants to be a King, either of these options are viable.

My gut tells me that the biggest player in this game hasn't been Doughty or the management staff of the Kings. The big move was made by Michel Picher.

While Picher is in no way affiliated with either LA or Doughty, he is the arbitrator that handed out a $7.5 million contract to the apparently comparable Shea Weber.  

Talk about a bump in the road.  

Now all of a sudden Doughty and his agent Don Meehan have a few extra bullets in their six-shooters when they head to the negotiation standoff.

And someone is being stubborn here.  

It's no secret that the more money Doughty signs for, the more money Meehan makes. It's also no secret that if Kings GM Dean Lombardi can sign him at a bit of a discount, he has more money to play with to build a championship-caliber team.

And those are the sticking words, as far as I am concerned.

After a summer that saw Lombardi make serious changes that launched the Kings from a mid-conference finisher to favorite to win the whole thing, all Doughty sees is bucks. I don't know the guy, don't have his email, and have never been in the same room with him.

But actions speak louder than words.

The morning Doughty turned on ESPN (or whatever news outlet he watches) and saw the headline about the Mike Richards trade he should have been in. Right then and there—$6.5 million, name your term.  

Let's win a damn Cup.

But it's clear through actions that winning a Cup with the Kings isn't the No. 1 concern for Doughty. His No. 1 concern seems to be his wallet. Perhaps that isn't a fair assumption, but his aloof attitude—the whole no rush thing—would irritate me if I were a Kings fan.

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Anze Kopitar #11, Drew Doughty #8 and Jack Johnson #3 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate Doughty's second period goal against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on February 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings defeated the Avalanche 4-3. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
If you look around the league and look at the teams that are always contending, those squads typically aren't full of players making market value for themselves. They take $500,000 or $1 million less to give the team space to operate under the cap.

Hell, even the NFL has a prime example of a player willing to do this. Call it class. Call it business savoy. I call it something else.

I call it the desire to win at the expense of your own expenses.

My question is a simple one.  

Looking at the offers Doughty has turned down, it is clear that being one of the highest paid blueliners in the league is more important than winning to him. It isn't like LA lowballed him like Nashville did with Weber.

$6.5 million is Nicklas Lidstrom money. And that guy is arguably better than Doughty, and he is over 40. Doughty has a lot of upside. No one questions that. And he is an outstanding hockey player.

But, with what he has shown this summer, is he the guy that could lead the Kings to a Cup? Is this a guy who puts winning above all else?

Is Drew Doughty the right guy to lead the Kings moving forward?

Submit Vote vote to see results
I think there is enough evidence on the table to argue that he isn't.  

So what do you think Kings fans, and NHL fans in general? Is this the kind of player you'd want leading your squad for the next decade? Ask a New Jersey Devils fan—having a highly paid player on your roster doesn't always translate to slashes in the win column.

Franklin Steele is a Red Wings featured columnist for the Bleacher Report.  Follow him on Twitter for entertaining hockey media from around the web, and for random musings about the sport.  

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