It has now been more than a week since the Los Angeles Kings opened training camp but there is still no sign of Drew Doughty.
And there's no sign that the contract standoff between Doughty and Kings management is any closer to an end either.
Doughty, who became a restricted free agent July 1, is believed to be seeking a contract of $7 million per season, according to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, however, has stated that he will not pay Doughty more than Anze Kopitar, who makes $6.8 million per year.
And while both sides appear to have their feet firmly planted in the sand, Doughty's teammates are hoping the situation can be resolved quickly.
"Hopefully it gets done sooner than later," said Kings centre Jarret Stoll. "We need him on our team, I think everybody knows that."
Kings head coach Terry Murray is also eager to have his top defenceman back.
"He's very much in the front of mind," said Murray. "Drew Doughty is a huge part of our hockey club and I'm really hoping things get worked out."
And while Murray said he did not know details on the contract situation, he knows exactly what he will be doing if and when a deal does get done.
"If he's here two days before the season, he's in the lineup," said Murray.
Doughty's production was down a bit from a stellar sophomore season in 2009-10 that saw him finish with 59 points and a nomination for the Norris Trophy. The 21-year-old scored 11 goals and 40 points in 76 games for the Kings last season, despite missing six games with a concussion early in the season and being eased back into duty afterwards. The longer Doughty remains unsigned; the Kings' current offer could also decrease as he misses time.
Lombardi said that, because players now get paid for training camp as part of the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, the number of days Doughty holds out must be factored in to any new contract offers. Based on the current $6.8 million per year offer the Kings have made, that could mean a reduction of almost $25,000 for each day Doughty is absent from camp.
If a deal isn't worked out before the start of the regular season, the players feel they still have a strong team without Doughty.
"Obviously we'd love to have him," said Mike Richards, who was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers in the off-season. "If he's here great and if not we have to focus on the beginning of the season with the players we have in this dressing room.
"We feel we've still got a good team without him but hopefully it gets done," concluded Stoll.