LOS ANGELES — As the saying goes, the third time’s the charm.
That was indeed the case for Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who was named as the 2016 recipient of the James Norris Memorial Trophy today at the National Hockey League’s Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Norris Trophy is awarded annually to “the defenseman who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
To top things off, Doughty was also named to the NHL’s 2016 First All-Star Team.
The 26-year-old native of London, Ontario, Canada completed his seventh season in the NHL this year, scoring 14 goals and adding 37 assists, good for 51 points, with a +24 plus/minus rating, 52 penalty minutes and an average of 28:01 in time on ice.
The native on London, Ontario, Canada received 1,254 points with 93 first place votes while Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was the runner-up with 1,054 points (46 first place votes).
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brett Burns was a distant third with 619 points (three first place votes).
As alluded to earlier, Doughty has been a finalist for the Norris Trophy twice before, in 2009-10 and 2014-15, when he was the runner-up to Karlsson.
“No matter what happens, I’m just honored to be a part of those top three guys this year, and whatever happens, happens,” he said.
Doughty becomes only the second Kings player to win the Norris Trophy. The first was Rob Blake (now their assistant general manager) in 1998.
“It means a lot to me,” Doughty told the media in Las Vegas. “I’ve been so close twice, kind of getting a sniff at it, but not finishing the deal kinda sucked. But it feels great to win that award with the history of it—Nick Lidstrom, and guys like that who I looked up to, as a kid. It’s really special to me.”
Doughty was also gracious towards his fellow Norris Trophy finalists.
“The two guys I was up against, Brett Burns and Erik Karlsson—having a point a game as a defenseman in the NHL, and putting up 27 goals as a defenseman in the NHL—that’s ridiculous,” said Doughty. “I can almost guarantee that I’ll never do that.”
“There’s guys who haven’t won it,” added Doughty. “The guy who first comes to mind is [Nashville Predators defenseman] Shea Weber. I was actually talking to him about it today. I was like, ‘when is it your turn to win the award,’ because he’s one of the most complete defensemen in the NHL. He just happens to play in Nashville, where maybe people don’t see him play as much.”
“There’s a ton of great defensemen in this league right now. That makes it even more of an honor to win it.”
Rounding out his game made the difference this time around.
“I think I completed my entire game,” Doughty explained. “Early in my career, I put up a lot of points, [but] wasn’t very good at defense—playing responsibly. I really worked on that and let the offense go away for a little bit. I wasn’t putting up the same numbers that I put up in the past.”
“This year, I kind of put it all together,” Doughty elaborated. “I think that [allowed] me to have a better season. But I think the biggest change this season for me was that I just matured, as a player and as a person. I became a better leader. That made me play better, as a whole.”
Doughty also credited his teammates for his accomplishment, especially center Anze Kopitar, who was named as the recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy (best defensive forward) and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (sportsmanship).
“In my mind, he’s one of the best two-way centers in the league,” said Doughty. “I put him right there with [Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan] Toews, [Boston Bruins center Patrice] Bergeron, [Anaheim Ducks center Ryan] Getzlaf. Those guys are great two-way players.”
“He’s a phenomenal player,” added Doughty. “I wouldn’t have won this award without Kopi and the rest of my teammates. He’s a big part of that.”
Given past history, Doughty indicated that he wasn’t concerned about coming up short once again.
“I just approached it the same way as the other ones,” he noted. “I might win it. If not, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll be back next year, and I’ll play even better. But now that I’ve won it, it’s something off my back. It feels good to win it. I just want to win another Stanley Cup.”
Doughty’s parents—his father, Paul, and his mother, Connie, were present to see their son receive the honor and during his acceptance speech, Doughty was visibly moved by their reaction.
“That was just because I looked at my mom, and she was friggin’ crying,” said Doughty. “That kind of made me tear up, because I know how proud my Mom is of me and how much they’ve done for me throughout my whole career—the sacrifices they made mean a lot.”
“I planned to thank my family,” added Doughty. “But then I looked over [at them]—that was the wrong move for me because it choked me up, a little bit.”
“My mom was crying the whole awards with the stories going on and stuff like that. That’s just how she is, and I guess I kind of got that emotional side a little bit from her.”
Doughty said that his mother was parent who pushed him the hardest.
“My mom was always the one who pushed me,” he noted. “Every time I finished playing, my Dad would basically say, ‘you know, you could’ve done a few things differently, but you played well.’ My Mom—she was the one [who said], ‘you’re wasting my damn money! You’re not working hard! We’re taking out a mortgage on our house to make you play hockey,’ so she was the one who always kind of gave it to me.”
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