Man, they must been such gross little buddies as teenagers. :P Everyone probably hated them.
Sharks-Kings playoff series puts friendship on pause
By Mark Emmons
Updated: 04/16/2011 08:58:17 AM PDT
When Logan Couture eluded a defenseman to score a goal in the Sharks' Game 1 victory over Los Angeles, it took him a moment to realize he had just made his boyhood friend Drew Doughty look really bad.
"I didn't realize that it was him until I saw him mouth, 'You ...,'" Couture said.
And Doughty wasn't saying, "You wonderful player!"
While they temporarily might be enemies, Couture and Doughty are as close as brothers. The fact that they're even playing in this first-round series is proof of the influence they've had on one another.
While they were youth teammates growing up in London, Ontario, hockey wasn't the best sport for either. Couture already was getting noticed in baseball and had won two national skills competitions. Doughty's first love was soccer, where he was a promising goalie.
Around age 14, they each had to choose one sport.
"I don't know if it was like we convinced each other," Doughty said. "But I remember him saying in the dressing room that he probably wasn't going to play baseball anymore, and that was when I decided not to play soccer."
Couture recalls it more as a mutual decision.
"We said, 'Look, we're hockey players. Let's do that,'" he said.
Wise decisions. Doughty, 21, was a Norris Trophy finalist last season for NHL's top blue-liner award and the youngest member of Canada's gold-medal-winning Olympic team. Couture, 22, is a leading Calder Cup candidate this year as the league's top rookie.
And that's how Doughty ended up in a heap along the boards in Game 1, watching Couture spring loose for his goal.
"Yeah, he got me," Doughty said Friday. "I wish I had that one back."
With Game 2 at HP Pavilion on Saturday night, Doughty will get his chance to even the score.
Their relationship won't take long to thaw. Couture and Doughty both profess to be the other's biggest fan. They still hang out together back in London during the summer. Even their parents are friends.
The two have known one another since about age 8 or 9, when they played on rival teams. But when the Couture family moved just a few minutes away in London, they became teammates and did all the usual kid things, including sleepovers. That's why Couture knows that Doughty has been a Kings fan his entire life.
"I remember that he had Kings' stuff in his bedroom," Couture said.
But Doughty also comes from a soccer-loving family. His sister Chelsea was named for the famous English club.
"I was much better at soccer than hockey," Doughty said. "But I also knew being a soccer player in Canada wasn't going to take me too far."
Meanwhile, Couture was a Toronto Blue Jays-loving baseball nut.
"We always thought he was going to be a ballplayer," said his mother, Lori Couture.
But the loss for soccer and baseball proved to be hockey's gain.
After going their separate ways in Canada's junior system, Couture was the No. 9 pick of the 2007 NHL draft while Doughty went No. 2 overall the following year.
Doughty, eight months younger than Couture, was on the faster track -- getting selected to Team Canada at just age 20. Although his numbers dipped this season, Doughty still had 40 points and is seen as one of the NHL's top blue-liners.
Couture, a center, exploded onto the scene this year with 32 goals and 24 assists as he carried the Sharks early in the season.
Now, they're facing each other on the Stanley Cup playoffs stage.
"It's a small world," Couture said.
And it's remarkable how two lifelong friends grew up to become budding star pro athletes.
"You never could have predicted it because so much can happen, and there's so much luck involved," said Lori Couture. "But they're still the same friends who just golf and go downtown when they're home."
Currently they're ignoring each other. Couture said they crossed paths briefly late Thursday night, and Doughty "didn't look real happy."
But both appreciate what they've accomplished getting to this point. Last summer they had a surreal moment -- playing against themselves on a hockey video game. Couture put himself on the Sharks' top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Doughty, of course, was on the Kings' blue line.
"When you're a kid, you play those games dreaming that someday you'll be out there," Doughty said. "You create a player and put yourself on your favorite team. But now, you're on that team already. It's pretty cool."
Doughty, an avid gamer, came away the winner.
"I hate to lose in anything," he said.
Couture counters that he would rather win the real games.
"Hopefully I'm on the good end of the handshake after the series," he added.
This summer's bragging rights are at stake.
Donuts being prompted by Logan that it was time to quit soccer and just play hockey! Playing a hockey video game as themselves! I bet they go to Blue Jays games together in the summer.
And Donuts looking unhappy when he saw Logan after the game, haha. I love it when guys get really pouty and competitive like that. Petr didn't take calls from Elias before the 2003 SCF and I wish that story about JMFJ ignoring Donuts' texts and refusing to fly with him at last year's Olympics was true, haha.