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Doughty sees Kings rebounding after they 'failed the entire organization'

Defenseman highly motivated following 'embarrassment' of last season

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

LONDON, Ontario -- Drew Doughty vowed the Los Angeles Kings will bounce back this season after finishing 30th in the NHL standings in 2018-19.

"We're excited to have another opportunity to show everyone we still have it and we can still be a contending team," the defenseman told on Thursday. "It might not be right off the bat, it's going to take some work, but it's going to happen."

The Kings missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third time in five seasons since winning the Cup in 2014, their second championship in three seasons.

"All the guys on our team take it personally," said Doughty, who was attending San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture's charity casino event, All-in for Brain Research. "We have worked our whole lives to be at this point and we're all honored and have a lot of pride to play for the Los Angeles Kings, and we failed the entire organization last year." 

Video: CHI@LAK: Doughty's PPG gives Kings overtime win

The 29-year-old, who had 45 points (eight goals, 37 assists) in 82 games last season and was minus-34, the worst rating of his 11-season NHL career, criticized his own performance. 

"I can't put a measure on how personally motivated I am for this season," Doughty said. "Last season was a disappointment and a big embarrassment. I'm expected to be one of the best guys on my team and a leader. I'm really looking forward to bringing us back to where we need to be. My determination is going to be at (the) maximum."

The Kings have a new coach, Todd McLellan, who replaced Willie Desjardins on April 16. Doughty, who is heading to Los Angeles next week with training camp opening Sept. 12, said he has only spoken briefly with McLellan by phone about what the coach expects of his leaders and the tone he expects them to set in camp. But Doughty said he is very familiar with McLellan, having faced the Sharks frequently when the Kings' Pacific Division rivals were coached by him from 2008-15. McLellan also coached another Pacific team, the Edmonton Oilers, from 2015-18.

The Sharks qualified for the playoffs in each of the first six of McLellan's seven seasons and played the Kings in the playoffs three times in a span of four seasons from 2010-11 through 2013-14.

"He had some really good teams there. We had some great battles with those teams," Doughty said. "They played hard and played that old-school style -- hard, nitty gritty, finish checks and going hard to the net. It wasn't all that pretty stuff, not a team that relies on its power play or anything like that, but just a good 5-on-5 team that always buckled down and played hard for each other."

Video: LAK@EDM: Kopitar sets up Doughty for power-play goal

Doughty, who is entering the first year of an eight-year, $88 million contract signed July 1, 2018, said he believes McLellan's system will allow the Kings' returning players and prospects to flourish.

"(His system) would for sure (be a good fit), but a lot of people think we need to add more speed as well," Doughty said. "I think our GM (Rob Blake) has done a great job of getting that in the offseason through draft picks. We're looking up and I think this year is going to be better than last year."

With forwards Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Ilya Kovalchuk; goalie Jonathan Quick; and prospects such as forwards Carl Grundstrom, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Gabriel Vilardi, and defensemen Sean Walker and Matt Roy, Doughty said he believes the Kings have the talent to turn things around.

"We have some great players still on our team and some great prospects coming up," Doughty said. "Last year was obviously not the direction we wanted to go, but last year is in the past, we've learned from a lot of the mistakes we made. We have a new coaching staff in place and hopefully we can have a good camp first off. Everyone has worked really, really hard in the offseason, more than ever. We're ready to get back to top form."

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