It’s early afternoon inside the Los Angeles Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo, California, when a woman pokes her head into a small waiting room to ask if a group of touring college students can walk through.
“Yo, what’s up?” Drew Doughty hollers from his seat on a black leather couch.
“What’s up, buddy?” responds Gabe Altieri, the only familiar face.
Doughty and Altieri have been part of the fabric of the Kings organization for a decade and a half – one the 33-year-old cornerstone defenseman, the other the 20-something son of a longtime marketing executive. A decade ago, they recited corny lines to each other for an EA Sports video game commercial.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, Altieri shuttles along with his classmates. When the door shuts behind them, Doughty reflects on the passage of time, specifically how long he’s known Altieri, who’s no longer some cute little kid.
“It’s fucking wild,” he says. “Wild.”
Doughty, 15 seasons into a Hockey Hall of Fame career, has evolved, too – in some respects, that is. In a few ways, he hasn’t changed whatsoever.
Here are 15 shades of the man affectionately known as “Dewy.”
1. ‘Drew plays’
Ethan Miller / Getty Images
Before Doughty was drafted second overall by the Kings in 2008, he dominated junior with what his OHL coach, Dave Barr, calls “Drew plays.”
A Drew play can be anything from a spin move to avoid a forechecker on a regroup, to angling an opponent into traffic along the boards. Above all, it’s a play that illustrates Doughty’s savant-like hockey sense and competitiveness.
If there are multiple options – say, leading the rush, joining the rush, or making a line change – the chances Doughty chooses the correct one are extremely high. As Barr puts it, “He knows when to go all-in and when to not go all-in.”
Doughty has been the Kings’ ice-time leader every year of his career, skating 26:15 a night over 1,095 regular-season games. He owns the NHL record for most minutes logged in a single playoff run (747:33 in 2014). You’d think each shift is in part about energy conservation, yet he insists his workhorse superpower mostly boils down to positioning.
“I know where the puck is probably going to go next, so I’m already prepared for the next situation. I’m not playing catch-up a lot,” Doughty explains. “You’re going to see me skate full speed only a couple of times in a game.”
Doughty, who collected 52 points in 81 games last year, has been a textbook two-way blue-liner – 50% offense, 50% defense – for the bulk of his career.
“It’s a decision I made a long time ago when we were winning Stanley Cups,” he says. “I knew that was the best way to win, and I’ve stuck with it.”
2. Goofy chatterbox
During the 2005-06 OHL season, Guelph Storm veterans would occasionally lob a question at the hot-shot rookie: “Drew, do you ever shut up, man?”
Retired NHLer Ryan Callahan laughs as he recalls how Doughty’s always been a chatterbox. “The personality you see in Drew now – that goofiness – was the same when he was 16,” Callahan says.
“It’s not too hard to get to know Drew,” adds Pierre-Luc Dubois, the star center traded to L.A. in June. “The first time I was here, he picked me up to go to the rink. It felt like I had known him my entire life. He doesn’t stop talking.”
Doughty was made for the mic’d-up era: he’s happy-go-lucky and irritable.
“Buddy, you suck at hockey!” he once said to a sheepish Pat Maroon. “I heard we would be friends if we played together,” he told a silent Jean-Gabriel Pageau. “Whoa! Big boy!” he yelled after knocking down Jesse Puljujarvi. “What’s your handicap?” he asked amateur golfer Clayton Keller.
Trash talk keeps Doughty engaged in the action. He doesn’t set out to hurt feelings or get under a rival’s skin, but blurts out whatever comes to mind. “He’ll bring up something about your skates or shin pads,” Keller says with a grin. “He asked me once why I wear earpieces on my helmet.”
That said, Doughty will channel his inner WWE superstar under the right circumstances. His 2017-2020 feud with Matthew Tkachuk, which began on the ice but took on a life of its own after a war of words in the media, generated rare buzz for regular-season meetings between Calgary and L.A.
Both players claim no hard feelings linger. “We would go after each other,” Doughty says. “But ever since he left Calgary … nothing’s happened. We probably didn’t say this in the media then, but we both respect each other. I know how fucking good of a player he is.”
Around the peak of the rivalry, the Kings bought each other Christmas gifts. Dewy’s present from Secret Santa? An autographed M. Tkachuk hockey stick.
3. Two pillars
Juan Ocampo / Getty Images
The Kings won two Cups in 2012 and 2014, and four integral pieces from those glory years remained in L.A. for a long time: Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jonathan Quick. Then Brown retired, and Quick was traded.
Technically, with depth forward Trevor Lewis returning this season, the current roster features three players from the Cup teams. But Kopitar and Doughty, under contract through 2025-26 and 2026-27 respectively, are the generational throughlines, the two pillars still standing.
Kopitar and Doughty are similar on one hand. Teammates laud both for their dedication to winning, well-rounded skill sets, and ability to lead by example.
On the other hand, they’re different. “Kopitar is a little more adult,” Kings forward Kevin Fiala says with a smile. That’s not to suggest the captain’s shy. He’s vocal and a good hang, but closer to “even-keeled” than Doughty.
4. Three girls
Doughty’s at a loss for words only once over our 45-minute interview in mid-September. Hey, what’s your favorite part of being a dad?
“Ummm,” he starts.
Four seconds pass.
“Favorite part about being a dad,” he continues.
Another three seconds tick away.
“My favorite part, honestly, is … just seeing them learn things, seeing them grow up, seeing how happy they are when they’ve accomplished things they haven’t done before. I love just hugging them, holding them.”
Doughty’s three daughters – Libby, 6; Naomi, 4; Jordan, almost 1 – fill him with gratitude. They help him recalibrate after losses. There’s no time to dwell with gymnastics classes to attend, Barbie dolls to play with, and cuddles to share.
Doughty’s evolved as a person. He still acts like a kid at the rink, but he’s no longer the guy who lost his cell phone and wallet in the Pacific Ocean shortly after being drafted. Or the guy who, along with old roommate Lewis, would rely heavily on weekly maid service. “She did our laundry. Cooked for us. Did our dry-cleaning. Everything,” he says of a housekeeper named Gloria.
What contrasting lifestyles to bookend the first 15 years of his career.
“So different. So different,” Doughty acknowledges. “But I wouldn’t change it. I wouldn’t go back to those days. I’m super happy with life these days.”
5. L.A. evangelist
Doughty isn’t stupid. He knew the Kings’ choice to rebuild around him and Kopitar a handful of years ago wouldn’t be a quick process. Yet finishing last in the 2018-19 Western Conference standings, then second-last in 2019-20, made things feel bottomless. It was a stressful and frustrating stretch.
“I knew they always had a plan,” Doughty says of the front office, led by president Luc Robitaille. “We just didn’t know how fast the plan would work.”
Even in those down years, Doughty was an evangelist for the market and organization. The people: fantastic. The facilities: solid. The weather: balmy. The entertainment: endless. The Kings are relevant locally, but the pressure from media and fans is nothing compared to a Canadian market.
Crucially, players are seldom recognized. And if they are, it tends to be at Kings-friendly establishments, like North End Bar & Grill in Hermosa Beach. Its billiards room is a shrine to the Cup years. “To the North End crew, thanks for everything!” reads an autographed framed photo of Doughty, hanging above a doorway between photos of Jarret Stoll and Quick.
“It’s gotta be, I would think, the No. 1 place to play in the entire league,” Doughty says of his adopted hometown. The lone drawback: “Taxes suck.”
6. Secret agent
Juan Ocampo / Getty Images
It isn’t in the same realm as his Cups, Olympic medals, 2016 Norris Trophy, or any other on-ice feat. Still, negotiating an eight-year, $88-million extension without an NHLPA agent by his side remains a source of pride for Doughty.
In short, Doughty made the difficult decision in 2018 to talk directly with Kings brass and avoid the standard 3% agent fee on his deal. (His former agents, Don Meehan, who runs the Newport Sports group, and Mark Guy, who left the agent business in 2020, declined to be interviewed for this story.)
The PA advises players negotiating on their own, and Doughty had lawyers look at the deal. So he wasn’t without counsel. But agreeing to terms without expert representation – as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Anthony Duclair have also done in recent years – is a chess move that requires guts.
“There’s only a handful of players who can pull that off,” former King Jonathan Bernier says. The retired goalie cites Doughty’s long history with the organization, the fact team and player were aligned on the deal’s length, and No. 8’s familiarity with general manager and ex-player Rob Blake for reasons why the deal got done.
Doughty’s never had another NHLer reach out to pick his brain about the no-agent route, but has no regrets. “If you know your worth, it’s a good play,” he says.
7. That laugh
A scraggly yet contained beard. Hair long enough to spill out of a hockey helmet. Two front teeth missing due to bad luck with errant pucks and sticks.
Doughty’s day-to-day aesthetic is pirate who just rolled out of bed. The look is distinct – uniquely his – as is his high-pitched, mischievous, loud laugh.
“If you’re in the back of the team plane or bus, you can hear the whole laugh. It travels. And it’s contagious, too,” former Kings forward Alex Iafallo says.
“If you hear it once, it’s funny. If you hear it twice, it starts to get a little irritating,” quips Kyle Clifford, a valued member of L.A.’s two Cup teams. Clifford labels Doughty a character, a tension diffuser, “the life of the room.”
Quick, one of Doughty’s best friends to this day, believes the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder’s famous cackle perfectly complements a warped sense of humor.
“I can’t count how many times I’ve heard him say something, then look at me, and say, ‘Oh shit, I shouldn’t have said that,’ and then start laughing,” Quick says, himself cracking up. “That’s what you love about him. He’s unfiltered.”
8. Written off
Dave Sandford / Getty Images
The worst part of the rebuild was the individual losses. Doughty despises defeat on the ice, at the card table, on the golf course – wherever. He also hates being underappreciated, which he’s felt various times in recent years.
“I was minus-20 or something one year, and I was still performing really well, but everyone was kind of shitting on me and erased me from that group of high-end defensemen,” Doughty says. “I struggled with that.”
He spoke publicly about perceived slights in late 2020, as the Kings were gearing up for the pandemic-shorted season. “A lot of people have me written off as not even a good player anymore,” he told reporters. Doughty had recently watched TSN analysts leave him off projected rosters for Canada’s 2022 Olympic team. The snub would drive him to be better, he said.
Where does he rank himself among NHL defensemen in 2023?
“I still think I’m easily one of the top guys,” Doughty says. “I just think the way that I play is different than a lot of the other guys who are talked about. I’m not going to go and put up 100 points. I’m not even going to go and put up 70 points. That’s just not the way I play. Am I capable of playing more offense? For sure, I am. But I am a defense-first guy. That’s how we won Cups.”
9. Deeply human
People close to Doughty have wondered why he cares so much about outside opinions. “I don’t fucking know,” he says. “Like, I just do. I can’t control it.”
Criticism was virtually non-existent for the first decade of his career. He avoided prolonged lulls, going from blue-chip prospect to Norris finalist by Year 2, to two-time Cup champion and Norris winner by Year 8, while mixing in multiple Olympic triumphs. He says he “felt untouchable in those years.”
Then, at a similar speed, the roll of success screeched to a halt.
Doughty’s gone to therapy to better understand his sensitivity to criticism. He’s learned over time how to block out the noise, while a second top priority – his daughters – has helped take the edge off. He’s accepted he’s human and that his brain is wired a certain way. He has plans to lean on the expertise of Dr. Sara Hickmann, the Kings’ director of mental performance and clinical services. He also plans to re-enter the elite defensemen discussion this year.
“I just stay in the moment, stay present, and try to get better every day, and that’s it,” Doughty says. “But don’t get me wrong: I want to be right back in that conversation. That won’t leave me.”
10. Soccer blood
Doughty was born and raised in London, Ontario. He still has strong ties to the area, enjoying his cottage in nearby Grand Bend every summer. He also owns a vacant lot – “like 50 acres with nothing on it” – closer to the city center.
He comes from a soccer-mad family. His only sibling, Chelsea – named after the English Premier League side – earned a scholarship to Division I Niagara University. Doughty’s own time on the soccer pitch, largely spent identifying patterns in his opponent’s attack, helped develop his on-ice vision.
“Drew was a great soccer goalkeeper. Just a natural athlete. And it almost came effortlessly to him,” San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture says.
Couture, another 1989-born Londoner, has competed with and against Doughty for two decades, and until recently used the same offseason trainer.
“I’d joke when people would ask about seeing Doughty in the summers,” Couture says. “I’d say, ‘Well, he probably hadn’t skated for three months. Then he’d show up for a skate and he’d be the best player on the ice – which is full of NHLers – by a mile.’ It seems like the game comes easy for him.”
11. Learning curve
Dave Sandford / Getty Images
All young Doughty wanted to do was win hockey games. He didn’t push the pace in practice, fully exert himself in the gym, or eat well. He didn’t care to be a leader, period, and didn’t understand why people urged him to be one.
In time, with gentle prodding from veterans, natural maturity, and an official captaincy change, Doughty, an alternate captain since 2016, came around.
“I’ve changed,” he says. “All of my habits are way better.” The fourth-oldest player on L.A.’s opening-night roster has been a respected voice in the dressing room for years, but the tone and messaging is wiser, friendlier. To use Kopitar’s word, he’s less of a “hothead” – which means fewer misconducts.
Doughty makes sure everyone’s invited to golf outings, grabs lunch with promising blue-liner Brandt Clarke, talks shop over adult beverages with Dubois, and crushes video games with fellow No. 2 pick Quinton Byfield.
“I have grown up a lot, and I actually notice that guys are looking up to me now,” Doughty says. He’s the same dude, he adds, “just a little settled down.”
12. Nuanced game
Doughty was last nominated for the Norris in 2017-18 and last mentioned in the NHLPA’s player poll in 2020-21 (fourth in “best defenseman” category).
Between 2017-18 and 2022-23, his usage and deployment barely changed. He continues to eat heavy even-strength and shorthanded minutes alongside Mikey Anderson, and he quarterbacked last year’s fifth-ranked power play.
Also largely unchanged over six years, according to Sportlogiq: how often the puck’s on Doughty’s stick (1:51 per game at even strength in 2022-23, third among all D-men), and how proficient Doughty is at exiting the defensive zone (3.8 exits per 20 even-strength minutes, ninth among D-men).
“Greatness is in the subtleties,” former Kings GM Dean Lombardi says.
As for spikes in the data, Doughty’s become better at denying zone entries and improved his playmaking on breakouts (as measured by outlet-pass completion percentage). Translation: He’s simplified his game – slightly.
“Rushing the puck: I still do it occasionally, but not as much as I used to,” Doughty says. “Going into this season, I’m going to try and create some more offense, try to push that part of my game forward a little more.”
“I have to let loose sometimes,” he adds, before stopping himself.
“But,” he continues, “I still believe that my defensive game is easily one of the best in the league. That’s my bread and butter, I care so much about it, and I do a great job at it. I don’t want to lose any of that to create more offense.”
13. London loyal
Rich Graessle / Getty Images
When Doughty married his wife Nicole in 2018, the wedding party included six groomsmen: three hockey players (including Lewis) and three London pals.
Doughty, as one might guess, considers himself a “super-loyal person.” It’s apparent in his professional life: After growing up a diehard fan of Wayne Gretzky and the Kings, he realized his dream and signed back-to-back eight-year deals. If the club is willing, Doughty would love to retire a one-team player.
In his personal life, no one makes him laugh harder than his London friends. He’s happiest in their presence, their shared history allowing them to be the truest version of themselves. Doughty didn’t realize in the moment, but a private party celebrating his 1,000th NHL game didn’t truly begin until the London crew arrived following a flight delay.
“My mom, sister, and Nicole were like, ‘You were just pacing around the entire house,'” he recalls. “I couldn’t enjoy myself. I was waiting for my buddies.”
14. Full circle
The Kings are done building and ready to win not only their first playoff series in a decade, but contend for the Cup again. The skater group’s deep and finally features the requisite amount of game-breakers up front, thanks to a few high-profile trades. Goaltending is the season-opening question mark.
L.A. is +1000, or 10-1, to win the conference and +2500, 25-1, to win the Cup.
“We’re in that bucket of 8-10 teams that all have a chance of winning a championship,” Robitaille says. The executive uses a mountain-climbing metaphor to contextualize the challenge ahead: “You have to climb Mount Everest. We’re near the end, and sometimes when you go to Mount Everest, you run out of oxygen and come back down. Then you go back up.”
Doughty is among the lucky few to bask in the Everest air – twice! – and also know exactly what a lengthy rebuild entails.
“It’s in my head all the time,” he says. “There’s nothing more I want to win than another Stanley Cup. That’s all I care about doing. That’s No. 1.”
15. Own man
The reason why Doughty is sitting on a couch in a small waiting room, and why Altieri and the college students passed by, is because he’s waiting for his turn with Glorious Customs. The Montreal-based custom clothing boutique is in town to take measurements and select Kings players are taking advantage.
Byfield emerges from his fitting as our interview is winding down. Doughty asks him how it went and how much it’ll cost, then immediately admits he’s probably not going to get his measurements after all.
“Dude, it’s pretty sick,” Byfield says.
Doughty’s mind is already elsewhere. The Kings are departing for their preseason trip to Australia in roughly 30 hours and he hasn’t finished packing. Plus, ever since he set foot in L.A. 15 years ago, he’s marched to the beat of his own drum. In a weird way, passing on free measurements is on-brand.
Amid all the change in his life, the core of Doughty’s being is the same.
John Matisz is theScore’s senior NHL writer. Follow John on Twitter (@MatiszJohn) or contact him via email (email@example.com).
Copyright © 2023 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.