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Drew Doughty Signed and Suited for Kings

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Drew Doughty speaking with reporters at the Toyota Sports Center on Friday. (LAist/Jimmy Bramlett)
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Drew Doughty was busy with administrative things Friday morning that prevented him from joining his teammates for morning skate for the first time this preseason. There’s the physical, weigh-in and, most importantly, putting pen to paper on the eight-year, $56 million deal.

“It sucked being at home,” Doughty said. “It sucked going through this process. But I’m really thankful I’m here. I’m going to be a member of the L.A. Kings for eight years.”

Everyone exhales.

“We’re excited to have our team whole again,” Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall said.

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“Drew’s back,” Head Coach Terry Murray said. “I’m going to give him a big hug when I see him.”

With how these contract talks dragged on and on, the last things fans wanted to do was hug Doughty. Mayor’s Manor took this picture of a disgruntled fan at STAPLES Center on Sunday. Doughty for his part acknowledged all of this on Friday.

“It was never a question of me not being a member of the Kings or me trying to ruin the team or anything like that,” Doughty said. “I apologize I wasn’t here on time. Maybe some people think I didn’t go about doing things the right way. It’s part of the business. That’s past us now. I’ve got to focus on this season and focus on making it all the way to the Finals and winning it.”

So was there any sense of urgency to get things done with the regular season a week away?

“For sure,” Doughty replied. “I had a lot of stress going on. The season was approaching; I was counting down the days until the season started. At first I didn’t want to miss camp either. I was counting down the days until camp started. I ended up having to miss that and what not. I’m not happy I had to go through all of that. But it’s done. I’m happy to be here.”

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Doughty seemed genuine when he said how happy he was to be in camp judging by how he looked. Dressed in his full gear including helmet, the lingering baby fat had melted away this offseason - a far cry from last season. Doughty came into training camp last season after being a Norris Trophy Finalist out of shape which showed in his statistics for the season. After scoring 16 goals and 43 assists for 59 points in the 2009-10 season, he only scored 11 goals and 29 assists for 40 points last season.

And having not seen Doughty yet, Murray will probably do more than hug him — perhaps a sloppy kiss is in order.

“I worked really hard in the gym and on the ice as well,” Doughty told reporters about his summer training in his hometown of London, Ontario. “I feel good. I’m a little bit lighter than I usually am. I’m about 203 [pounds], and I usually play around 210. I definitely worked hard and look forward to putting my skills out there on the ice.”

He did take to the ice after his press conference albeit by himself since the rest of the team was in Anaheim for the preseason showdown at the Honda Center. While doing drills that appeared to be for the media’s benefit more than anything else, he looked remarkably faster on the ice. “I feel stronger and feel better conditioned as well. I’m a little bit slimmer, but at the same time I have more muscle on me.”

Maybe he and Dustin Penner texted each other during the offseason.

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Nevertheless, Doughty has one week to make up for the last two weeks to get into game shape.

With a week until the regular season starts for the Kings in Stockholm, Sweden, the team is whole again. And this team is expected to go deep into the playoffs.

“We have a good hockey club here,” Murray said. “We’ve got nice depth. We’ve got great core guys which Doughty is a big part of. We’ve got secondary support for those core guys, those players we added in the off season in particular with the veteran guys with Ethan Moreau and Simon Gagné. Those guys are veteran players who have been through the battles and the wars and will really help the core players who are young to move and take that next step.”

For Doughty he’s looking forward to a very long season.

“We’re going to be a good team. We’re not going to be satisfied without making the Stanley Cup Final and winning the Cup.”