Doughty embracing the pressue in Los Angeles

With the NHL’s Stanley Cup finals underway, three Storm alumni along with former Head Coach / General Manager Dave Barr are trying to capture the Stanley Cup just one year after Daniel Paille, who played his entire junior career in Guelph and Geoff Ward, who coached the Storm to their last division title, were part of the Boston Bruins’ championship run.

Captaining the Los Angeles Kings is former Storm forward Dustin Brown, who was chosen one round after Guelph picked Paille in the first round of the 2000 draft.  Brown went on to play three seasons in the Royal City.  He was the Storm’s co-MVP in 2002-03 and his 98 goals in 174 regular season contests rank 11th all-time in team history.  

Joining Brown on the LA Kings is former Storm first round pick Drew Doughty, who played 218 games on the Guelph blueline before being selected second overall by the Kings.  Doughty earned the Top Scorer Award (2006-07), Rookie of the Year (2005-06) and Defenceman of the Year (2006-07, 2007-08), before graduating to the NHL.  

Also vying for the Stanley Cup is Cam Janssen, a trade deadline pick up by the Storm during their run to the 2003-04 OHL title.  Janssen was acquired by Dave Barr, the General Manager in Guelph that season. Barr is now one of three Assistant Coaches with the Devils.

By Corey Masisak,

When a 21-year-old kid signs a document that will pay him $56 million, there are going to be changes.

For Drew Doughty, he made the transition from promising young star to highest-paid player on his team in September, but it didn’t go as smoothly as he would have hoped. After missing training camp because of prolonged contract negotiations, Doughty signed his new contract and joined the Los Angeles Kings on their European excursion to start the season.

He was injured four games into the campaign, and after he came back, he wasn’t meeting the incredibly high expectations, both externally and internally.

“Every single game I was going out there, I knew everyone expected me — I needed to put up some points, play well defensively, have a plus-rating. I put all that pressure on myself and everything just kind of stirred up in my mind, and I just wasn’t myself. It is hard to live up to those expectations, but now I’ve realized that you just have to put all that stuff in the back of your head and be yourself.”

When the calendar flipped to 2012, Doughty had just two goals and 15 points in 34 games. More than just his plus-minus rating (minus-4 at the time), Doughty did not look like the two-way force that earned him a Norris Trophy nomination as a 20-year-old in 2010.

The team was struggling, and Darryl Sutter replaced Terry Murray behind the bench. What the Kings also needed was a personal turnaround from Doughty, and after the New Year he became a dominant defenseman again.

He had eight goals and 21 points in 43 games, and his strong offensive play has continued through the postseason.

“I just realized that I was coming here and not enjoying myself,” Doughty said. “That’s the reason that I play this game, because I have so much fun doing it. I enjoy going on the ice every day. Once I realized I wasn’t having fun, I just decided to refocus and not worry about that stuff. I just put that in the back of my mind and didn’t care what people said, and I started having fun.

“I play my best when I’m relaxed and having fun. I’m still serious, still focused on the game, but if I’m laughing, enjoying the music on the bench and stuff like that, that’s when I’m at my best. Everyone is different, but I know what I have to do to be at my best.”

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