Uppermost on Drew Doughty
's mind when he arrived in Calgary?
Not hockey, actually. Honorifics.
"I was thinking about that coming in -- wondering if I should address these guys as 'Mister,' " Doughty said with a chuckle Thursday morning.
You could excuse the young Los Angeles Kings
defenseman for being in a respect-your-elders kind of mood earlier this week. After all, having just turned 20 on Aug. 12, he is the youngest player at the Canadian men's Olympic four-day orientation camp, which was scheduled to wrap up with a Thursday evening scrimmage at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Should he survive the final cut and be named to the 23-man roster for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Doughty would be the youngest player to suit up for Canada in a top-caliber international event since 18-year-old Eric Lindros
skated in the 1991 Canada Cup.
"I've had such a good time so far, gaining experience, dealing with these players, hanging out with them on and off the ice. It's been unbelievable," said Doughty, the 6-foot-1, 203-pound native of London, Ont.
Doughty earned a look at this 46-player camp after a surprisingly smooth rookie NHL season with the Kings.
As a raw 19-year-old blueliner, the No. 2 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft displayed surprising precocity, playing in 81 games, potting 27 points and averaging nearly 24 minutes a night. He finished fifth in Calder Trophy voting, and was named to the League's all-rookie team.
"Heading into my first season, I wasn't expecting to make the Kings. It's all come so fast for me. It's so surprising that things happen like this," he said. "But I'm enjoying it and having the time of my life.
"It was cool growing up watching guys like Chris Pronger
and Scott Niedermayer
, and now being able to play with them, it's an unbelievable experience. But I'm not looking at it like I have no shot here. I'm trying to make the team."
Doughty met one of his new Kings teammates, Ryan Smyth
, for the first time this week at the Canadian camp, and has high hopes for his Tinseltown squad making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2002.
"I golfed with him the other day, and we got to chat about things. He's really going to help our team a lot. ... I'm really looking forward to the season," Doughty said.
"We've got a lot of young prospects, and we picked up some older guys like Ryan and (Rob) Scuderi, there, and I don't think we're done making moves.
"This season, we'll do a lot better. We're not going to be satisfied without making the playoffs."
Regardless of what the next six months hold, Doughty won't soon forget the voice-mail message he received from Steve Yzerman
, executive director of Hockey Canada's 2010 Olympic program, inviting him to the Calgary camp.
"That's one thing I'll never forget. I didn't expect to be here at all, and to get that phone call, I was just in shock," he said. "I didn't delete the message, just kept saving it again ... until a couple of days ago, when I broke my phone.
"That sucks. It's not going to be there anymore," he added. "But I could get (Yzerman) to redo it, yeah."