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Norris Trophy win emotional for Doughty, mother

Kings defenseman gets choked up, is grateful for family's support

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

LAS VEGAS -- Drew Doughty had a plan as he walked on stage at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Wednesday. He was going to thank his family for the sacrifices that helped him go from London, Ontario, to the Los Angeles Kings and Team Canada. He had won the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold twice each, and now, in his third time as a finalist, he had won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman.

Then he looked into the crowd and found his mother, Connie, and his plan fell apart.

"That was the wrong move for me," he said, "because it choked me up a little bit."

His mother was in tears.

"When I heard his name, I was just pumped," Connie Doughty said.

"Immediately it was that, 'Yes, he finally wins it.' It was just something that …"

She paused.

"He's worked very, very hard," she said.

She paused again.

"I don't want to cry," she continued. "I know how hard he's worked for it and how important it was. It was his next goal. I mean, he's achieved so much, and he's so blessed, and we know that. Two Stanley Cups, two gold medals. I mean, who would have ever thought that when he was little? Honestly."

Video: Drew Doughty is presented the Norris Trophy

When Drew was young, money was tight. But thanks largely to Connie's parents, they found a way for Drew to have equipment, travel to tournaments, play the game and develop his skills.

Drew's father, Paul, was supportive. Connie was demanding.

"Every time I finished playing, my dad would basically say, 'You know, you could have done a few things differently, but you played well,' " Drew said. "My mom, she was, 'You're wasting my damn money.' … She was the one that always kind of gave it to me."

She had her reasons.

"One time in an interview, he said, 'I get my athleticism from my dad, but I get my tenacity from my mom,' " Connie said. "And I agree with that statement.

"With both my children, if they wanted to join something, if it was 10 sessions or 12 sessions, they had to finish it. I felt that was an important lesson in life. After that 12, if it was something they didn't want to do anymore, that was fine. But I felt you just can't give up. You've got to give it your best effort, and I did expect 100 percent from them in their effort. I didn't expect that they were going to be the best, just that they gave it 100 percent when they were out there."

Drew Doughty turned out to be the best, though. The Kings selected him at No. 2 in the 2008 NHL Draft, after the Tampa Bay Lightning took center Steven Stamkos. He showed how good he when he played a key role for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and finished third for the 2010 Norris at age 20.

Then came two Stanley Cup championships and another gold medal, and he finished second in the voting for the Norris last year just behind the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson, who won the award for the second time in four years.

This time the voting flipped. Doughty edged Karlsson, even though Karlsson produced 82 points, most among defensemen and tied for fourth among skaters. No defenseman has had more than 82 points in a season since the New York Rangers' Brian Leetch in 1995-96.

Doughty had 51 points, tied for ninth among defensemen. But he led defensemen in 5-on-5 shot-attempts percentage at 58.89, while averaging 28:01 of ice time and drawing tough matchups. The Kings had 537 more shot attempts than they allowed with him on the ice at 5-on-5. In other words, they had the puck a lot more than their opponents did.

It's tough to compare Karlsson and Doughty. Karlsson played for a team with holes in the roster that didn't make the playoffs. He was asked to lead the offense. Doughty played for a team that had won multiple championships and played a tighter style. He was not given nearly the same freedom offensively. It's no coincidence that teammate Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward. The Kings were one of the best possession and defensive teams again.

"It's a debate that's hard to say," Karlsson said Tuesday. "We're in different conferences. We don't play each other that much. At the end of the day, I think we're both … He's a good player. He's someone that I look up to, and I think that the way he plays the game and sees the game is something that I respect a lot and learn a lot from just watching him."

Video: Drew Doughty reacts to winning Norris trophy

Karlsson and Doughty were both deserving, but Doughty ended up with 1,254 points and 93 first-place votes from the members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association. Karlsson had 1,020 and 46. The San Jose Sharks' Brent Burns, who led defensemen with 27 goals, was a distant third with 619 and three.

"I think I finally kind of completed my entire game," Doughty said. "Early in my career I was putting up a lot of points, wasn't very good at defense, playing responsibly defensively. And I kind of really worked on that and kind of let the offense go away for a little bit and wasn't putting up the same numbers that I put up in the past. And then this year I kind of put it all together."

After Doughty received the Norris, he went to a conference room for pictures. He looked at names like Nicklas Lidstrom on the trophy. Connie Doughty looked at names of players she grew up watching, like Bobby Orr and Al MacInnis. It was hard not to tear up again.

"Just to see those names," she said, "it's phenomenal that he's going to have his name on that."

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