Fact is, they should have been cheering him.
No, not just because he heaped a healthy dose of support behind Mark Giordano’s Norris Trophy chase. (More on that later, as he was joined by Dion Phaneuf.) But because without Doughty’s colourful criticism to spice up the night, the paying public populating the ‘Dome may have had a case for a full refund.
It was that bad. It was a rare dud on home ice against a bottom feeder for a Flames team that has compiled a 29-6-4 record against non-playoff teams this year.
In the end, Doughty got the last laugh with a 3-0 shocker over the Flames despite his Kings being outshot 42-20. But not before Flames fans got a hearty chuckle over the predictability of seeing Doughty fall hook line and sinker once again for the ol’ Tkachuk bait.
Early in the third period Tkachuk took a run at Doughty and missed, prompting a slash by Doughty that earned him a two-minute penalty. The league-leader in drawing penalties strikes again. The two exchanged shoves and it looked like they might finally come to blows, before being separated by officials.
As Doughty suggested in an exclusive chat with Sportsnet following the morning skate, “sometimes he’s successful,” in getting him off his game.
Make that always.
Doughty refused comment after the game, while Tkachuk shrugged off Doughty’s early claim that he has no respect for Tkachuk, before adding he believes “most” people around the league share his opinion.
“No reaction, it doesn’t bother me at all — in one ear and out the other with that stuff,” said Tkachuk, whose club maintained its six-point atop the Pacific division thanks to San Jose’s loss.
“Doesn’t really surprise me or not surprise me — it’s just another day. I’ll sleep like a baby tonight, I’m not worried about that type of stuff, I’ll tell ya’ that.”
None of it changed the fact Doughty believes the Norris Trophy club, in which he belongs, should expand by one member this spring.
Add a pair of Kings to the growing list of those who believe the historic season being pieced together by Giordano should be recognized by the Professional Hockey Writers Association as such.
Without due respect, Doughty believes it should come at the expense of two former winners as well as eastern candidate Victor Hedman.
“All you’ve got to do is watch one San Jose Sharks game and you’ll see Brent Burns get beat three times a game, literally, and everybody has him up for the Norris — I just don’t get it,” said Doughty, who won the award for the league’s top defenceman in 2016, one year before Burns did.
“Giordano has (72 points) and he plays good defence.
From me, based on how I know he plays, I think he should be the frontrunner.
“I like how Gio plays. I have tons of respect for Gio. He plays the game the right way, he plays in both ends of the ice, he plays hard defensively, he blocks shots, he’s a first penalty-kill unit guy. You don’t see that from Burns or (two-time winner Erik) Karlsson. They’re not first penalty-kill unit guys. They’re not even close.
“They’re amazing at the offensive side of the game. None of us are even close to them — well, we’re close, but we don’t have their offensive upside. But they don’t have even close to our defensive upside. I would want Giordano on my team before I’d want those points guys.”
True to form, Giordano was the first Flame over the boards late in the first period when the Flames found themselves down two men — a deficit Giordano managed to help kill off.
“I’m extremely happy for him — I go way back with Gio,” said Phaneuf, who roomed with Giordano while the duo started their careers in Calgary. “He’s been a great player for a lot of years but this year he’s the front-runner for a reason. It’s pretty impressive to see him doing it at this age, but he’s always been so fit.”
Phaneuf also gave a tremendous nod to his former Toronto teammate, Morgan Rielly, for being part of the race.
“Two of my good friends up for the Norris trophy — it’s pretty close,” he said. “They’re both getting very well-deserved recognition. Both had impressive years — two good guys and two good teammates.”
Doughty’s deep respect for Giordano also stems from the road the undrafted 35-year-old had to take to get here, as a Norris frontrunner.
“He had to go over to Russia because (then-GM) Darryl (Sutter) wouldn’t give him a contract — I respect that too,” said Doughty, whose Kings entered play Monday night as the NHL’s 30th-ranked team.
“He’s just a good guy — a good person, good family guy — a good man. I respect all those other guys too and their games, I just think they don’t play enough defence.”
Apparently neither has Doughty this year, which he figures hampered him in the NHLPA players’ poll, which had him ranked second behind Victor Hedman as the top defenceman.
“I heard I was second, so I was pissed about that,” smiled the gap-toothed veteran.
“Well, I’m minus-30 so maybe they’re on to something.”