On a conference call with reporters Monday, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty became the first star player to publicly come forward and express pessimism that the 2019-20 season will resume.
“Honestly, I don’t see how the season is going to return. I really don’t,” he said pointedly. “We have no idea when this virus is going to be over. We’re all kind of just sitting at home, obviously hoping to return to the season or hope to watch the playoffs return.
“I would think the NHL or whoever would make the decision would have to make some kind of decision on that soon, and it seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to resume the season or playoffs. I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Obviously the players would want to play, the fans want to see us playing, we want to play in front of the fans, but it seems like it’s going to be pretty tough to do that.”
Doughty readily admitted his opinion was clouded and would be different if the Kings were in playoff contention; at the season’s pause, Los Angeles had the league’s fourth-worst record. He also added that, in his opinion, if the Stanely Cup playoffs were to happen, it wouldn’t hold the same weight.
“I know they so badly want to give out the Stanley Cup this year, but in all seriousness, it’s not going to be like winning a real Stanley Cup because the [regular] season wasn’t finished,” the two-time Stanley Cup champion said. “There’s teams that couldn’t get in the playoffs and then I’m assuming they’d have to come up with a different playoff format. … I’m not a huge fan of it, as much as I want to play. I just don’t want things to go into next season and affecting those. But whatever happens is kind of out of my control, and I’m ready for whatever happens.”
On the flip side, how would Doughty feel about a tournament to decide who gets the top pick, something the Kings have a better chance of winning than the Stanley Cup right now?
“That’s dumb. Yeah, that’s dumb,” he said.
No one knows what will happen, not even commissioner Gary Bettman who told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday afternoon, “we don’t know when we can come back but it’s something we’re monitoring on a daily basis.” TSN’s Pierre LeBrun did report that the league is willing to delay the start of the next season until November, which would also involve canceling the All-Star Game and bye weeks, and the playoffs running until late-June.
If the summer scenario does come to fruition, Doughty said it would be difficult to play following a long layoff, using the 2016 World Cup as an example.
“We had to play that World Cup thing kind of out of nowhere, and that was so hard to go into games like that just after one or two exhibition games, coming right out of the summer,” he recalled. “I never recovered from that World Cup for the rest of the season — I was sore after that, I was sore for the first few exhibition games.
“I was in absolute pain that whole season.
“Now that I think about it, as much as I could mentally be in game mode, your body’s not ready for it if you don’t get a full offseason of training and if you don’t get to play a long training camp with like seven exhibition games. If you only get a week training camp with a couple of exhibition games, you’re going to ruin your body.”
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