|19-year-old, second-year defenseman Drew Doughty is gaining momentum -- in terms of hockey's talking heads -- for possible inclusion on Team Canada.
Not counted among the announced attendance for Saturday's Kings-Calgary game at STAPLES Center were two of international hockey's wise men, sitting in the press box.
They weren't writers or broadcasters or scouts, and had no rooting interest in the game's outcome, but their eyes no doubt were fixed on a handful of players.
Steve Yzerman and Kevin Lowe, you see, are two of the men charged with shaping Canada's roster for the 2010 Olympics. The eyes of a hockey-mad country are upon them, so their eyes are trained on a number of players, including the Kings' Drew Doughty.
Doughty, a 19-year-old, second-year defenseman, is gaining momentum -- in terms of hockey's talking heads -- for possible inclusion on Team Canada. Doughty is one of eight Kings players with at least a fighting chance of being selected to an Olympic roster.
Told, the following morning, that Yzerman and Lowe had been in attendance, Doughty sat up a bit in his locker stall and -- as only a teenager can do -- simply uttered a satisfied, "Cool." Doughty had scored a goal and had one assist against in a 5-2 loss to the Flames.
"To get considered among that group is pretty unbelievable, and it's a big surprise to me," said Doughty, who ranks fourth among NHL defensemen with 20 points in 24 games this season. "It's a really big honor."
Olympic rosters will be announced at various points, starting Dec. 23. Canada announces its roster on Dec. 31, followed by the United States a day later, and a number of Kings will have a close eye on the announcements. Who has the best chances?
Last week, NHL.com writers projected the rosters for the nine of the 12 Olympic teams and included Doughty and Ryan Smyth (Canada), Dustin Brown and Jack Johnson (USA), Alexander Frolov (Russia) and Michal Handzus (Slovakia).
Raitis Ivanans also has a chance to make the Latvian team, but Smyth's chances took a dent last week when it was determined that he will be out until mid-December with an upper-body injury. Rob Scuderi and Jonathan Quick are also Team USA candidates.
"It's the biggest honor in sports, to represent your country in the Olympics," Johnson said. "To me, it's not even arguable. That would be huge for me. I'd do anything to be able to represent my country in the Olympics. Obviously there's a possibility that I might not be on that team, but I'd love to be on that team."
Johnson no doubt helped his cause with an outstanding performance for Team USA in the 2009 World Championships, during which Johnson led the team in average ice time and had five goals and two assists in nine games. Johnson, who started out, at age 16, with the U.S. National Under-18 Team, has represented his country at many tournaments, as has Brown, the Kings' captain and an emerging leader for Team USA as well.
Continue to Part II