LOS ANGELES – Drew Doughty seldom hesitates to say what the rest of the Los Angeles Kings are only thinking, and the standout defenseman’s mind was already on a third Stanley Cup title while teammates celebrated their second on the ice behind him.
“Next year, we’re going to want to win it again,” the 24-year-old Doughty said Friday night after the Kings’ 3-2, two-overtime, Cup-clinching victory over the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Final.
With two championships in three years, the Kings are building a hockey dynasty in an unlikely place. Hollywood’s team is hardly the most glamorous, but its commitment to hard work, team defense and playoff excellence puts it in position to contend for years to come.
Los Angeles’ core is mostly in its prime, a balanced collection of gritty veterans and promising young talent. The Kings have a mere three unrestricted free agents, including late-season acquisition Marian Gaborik.
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Of the 24 players on the Kings’ 2012 championship roster, 17 are still with the organization.
“We’ve got a special group here,” goaltender Jonathan Quick said. “We just finished four incredibly difficult and exhausting rounds. These were probably the most tiring two months of hockey I’ve ever played. So we have a special group to be able to overcome everything we’ve been challenged with, and we just want to party now.”
There will be a downtown victory parade Monday in Los Angeles.
Gaborik, 32, led the NHL postseason with 14 goals after arriving from Columbus in March.
Kings officials realize their biggest challenger for the next few years might be the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Kings ousted the defending champions in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Alec Martinez’s overtime goal.
“During the Olympics, I always thought about this, ‘How are we going to beat Chicago? How are we going to beat Chicago?’ ” Kings coach Darryl Sutter recalled. “Dean (Lombardi, general manager) got Gaborik. We were able to put some kids in, go from there.”
• Game 5 averaged 6 million viewers and had a 3.7 rating, mostly on NBC stations.