The Los Angeles Kings
remain without top defenseman Drew Doughty
but Tim Leiweke, the team's Governor and President of its parent company AEG, supported general manager Dean Lombardi's negotiation strategy Tuesday while offering a plea for resolution to the Los Angeles Times.
Leiweke said the Kings remain committed to Doughty and to be being a team that spends to the salary cap, but also agreed with Lombardi's top offer of $6.8 million per season.
"This is not a matter of the Kings or AEG saving money. That is zero of the conflict here," Leiweke told Helene Elliott of the Times. "This is a matter of allocation of dollars and the fight here is how do we ultimately respect Drew. And we respect the world out of Drew. I think the world of the kid. He is the cornerstone of the franchise long term and we're not going to let him go anywhere."
Leiweke also confirmed Lombardi's assertion that a trade is not an option. Doughty, 21, had 11 goals and 40 points last season for the Kings, and was a Norris Trophy finalist in 2009-10 after producing 16 goals and 59 points.
He is clearly one of the top young defensemen in the sport, and Doughty reportedly is seeing upwards of $7 million per season. Lombardi's offer of a deal with an average annual value of $6.8 million would make Doughty level with Anze Kopitar
as the two highest-paid players on the team.
"I support Dean on what he's trying to do here," Leiweke said to Elliott. "He's not trying to be cheap. He's not trying to be disrespectful. We love Drew. It's an allocation issue here and everyone, including most of the players I've run into in the last week, they get that we are desperate to try to keep enough resources to keep this team together long term.
"So from my standpoint I want Drew to come back. Please, Drew, come back. We love you. Let's not destroy this relationship or his reputation or our reputation over something like this. We need to get this done. He needs to get back in here. And we need to get him ready to go to Europe. He should not miss that trip. It would mean that we would begin to move on without him and that's a bad thing."