Call to the Hall: Los Angeles Kings

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Welcome to LWOS Hockey’s summer series, Call to the Hall, where we take a look at the next great player from each NHL franchise to get called to the Hockey Hall of Fame. There are a few caveats, the player must be active, and must have played 300 games (or 150 for goaltenders) with the franchise.

Check out the previous Call to the Hall articles HERE.

Call to the Hall: Los Angeles Kings

Aside from the last few years and a couple good seasons with Wayne Gretzky, the Los Angeles Kings have historically been a pretty bad team. This means they don’t had a very long list of Hall of Fame players who laced up the skates for them. Luc Robitaille, Gretzky, Rob Blake and Marcel Dionne are the big four in team history. After that, there are a few players who spent brief stints with the team, or a couple players who Kings fans feel should be in the Hall of Fame like Rogie Vachon and Dave Taylor.

Winning the Stanley Cup twice in the last four seasons has raised the question of whether any of the Kings’ current core of players will eventually end up in the Hall of Fame. There is little doubt that Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick will end up having solid career numbers, but perhaps not quite Hall of Fame worthy. Quick should one day approach the NHL record for wins by an American goaltender, but unless he wins a few Vezina trophies it’s doubtful he’ll end up in any hall other than the American Hockey Hall of Fame.

There is no doubt the Kings wouldn’t have won the Cup twice without Kopitar and Quick, but they’ll need to put up god-like numbers for a few seasons to have a chance at being considered. For now there is only one player on the roster who looks like he’s on the fast track to being a Hall of Fame player.

DREW DOUGHTY

Doughty’s junior career began when the Guelph Storm selected him fifth overall in the 2005 OHL draft. In his first season with the team, Doughty was selected to the OHL All-Rookie Team on defense. The following two seasons Doughty was selected the league’s top offensive defenseman, and in his final season with the team was awarded the Max Kaminsky Trophy as the OHL’s outstanding defenseman.

Following the 2008 season Doughty helped Canada win their fourth consecutive gold medal at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, finishing with two goals and three assists in six games and being named to the tournament all-star team.

The Kings selected Doughty 2nd overall in the 2008 draft. A Kings fan since childhood, Doughty was more than pleased to be a member of the team, and the team was especially happy to see him progress as quickly as he did. Not many defensemen break into the NHL at 18 years old, but Doughty is a special player and showed that not only could he keep up with the speed of the game, but was able to handle the physicality of the NHL. Doughty was rewarded for his play, being selected to the All-Rookie Team.

In only his second season in the league, Doughty finished third in the league in defensive scoring and was runner up for the Norris Trophy. During that season Doughty also represented Canada in the 2010 Olympics, winning a gold medal and chipping in two assists in seven games. He was also on the ice for Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal to give Canada the win in the gold medal game.

Following his sophomore season, Doughty continued to improve his overall defensive game, while sacrificing offense slightly. While his point totals dipped, his ice time and defensive zone starts were upped. Playing alongside veteran stay-at-home defenseman Willie Mitchell, Doughty developed into one of the best two-way defensemen in the NHL.

In 2012 the Kings barely sneaked into the playoffs, finishing 8th in the Western Conference. However, a historic run that saw them beat the top three seeds in the West and then oust the New Jersey Devils in the final, saw Doughty and the team win their first Stanley Cup. Doughty ended the playoffs with 16 points (4-12) in 20 games, leading all defensemen in playoff scoring.

After losing in the 2013 Western Conference Final to the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kings returned to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, where Doughty again led the league in playoff scoring for a defenseman with 18 points in 26 games, and the Kings again won the Stanley Cup.

While another Stanley Cup win was special, 2014 was even bigger for Doughty as he was again selected to represent Canada at the Olympics. This time Doughty would be a star on the team, leading them by scoring four goals in six games on the way to another gold medal. Doughty was also selected to the Tournament All-Star Team.

This past season was a bit rough for the Kings as a whole, but saw Doughty do perhaps his finest work defensively. Due to injuries and other off ice issues, the Kings blueline suffered in 2015 and Doughty’s ice time jumped to a career high 28:59 minutes per game. Thanks to playing in two Olympic years and one lockout-shortened season, Doughty finally played in his first All-Star game in 2015. At the end of the season Doughty again finished second in Norris Trophy voting as the league’s best defenseman.

Doughty turns 26 in December and has already won the Stanley Cup twice, has two Olympic gold medals, two Norris Trophy runner-ups, and has played in over 500 NHL regular season games. Barring any serious injuries, it’s not hard to assume we might see Doughty winning a couple Norris Trophies, another gold medal and perhaps another Stanley Cup. With a resume like that, it’s hard not to think he’ll have a very good shot at the Hall of Fame when he eventually retires. While he may never put up the point totals of other elite offensive defensemen, Doughty is the best all-around defenseman in the league right now, and will likely remain one of the best for a few more seasons.

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