MONTREAL, Canada -- For a moment, it seemed like a rock star had wandered into the Kings’ locker room at the Bell Center after Tuesday’s morning skate, so many reporters and videographers had clustered around one person.
The focus of their attention was defenseman Drew Doughty, who isn’t a rock star but might just as well be one when he visits his native Canada -- especially with the Sochi Olympics approaching.
Doughty made Canada’s roster for the Vancouver Olympics as the seventh defenseman but played his way into a prominent role as the home country won the gold medal, and he’s considered one of the best young defensemen in the NHL at 24. He will be counted on again to lead Canada at Sochi, and after Tuesday’s skate, he attracted a crowd of about 15 reporters who were eager to ask him whether he has packed his bags for Russia.
The answer to that one was no.
The attention, he said, is something he tolerates but doesn’t exactly crave.
“I don’t mind it, I guess. It’s not something I really, I guess, look forward to,” said Doughty, who had five goals, 15 points and a +4 defensive rating in the Kings’ first 30 games and was averaging 25 minutes and 55 seconds’ ice time, which ranked eighth in the NHL.
“But with not having so much media in L.A. and stuff like that, it’s a change. I’m sure I wouldn’t like it if it was every day, like the Canadiens have to deal with. I enjoy it a little bit.”
Doughty handled the questions as well as he’s played this season -- which is to say very well. His high level of play has lifted his defense partner, Jake Muzzin, to a new level of consistency.
“He’s a great player, and whoever’s playing with him, he’s going to make better,” Muzzin said. “And maybe that’s the case. I feel a little bit more confident trying some stuff with him. He’s one of the top D-men in the league, so he’s going to make you better. It’s a little bit of maturity for me, as well, coming in with more games, more experience, understanding the league and what we want here.”
Muzzin, incidentally said he had never played at the Bell Center before and was eager to experience the passion and intensity in the building. “I went out earlier and just looked around,” he said of the banners honoring retired players and past championship teams. "It's a cool city."
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