The Kings were on the cusp of something great a few years ago. They were good, but couldn’t quite break through. Several moves were made in an attempt to overhaul the roster and the coaching staff, but the one constant was Brown. Naming him Captain in 2008 may have very well signaled the start of the shift that this franchise needed. It gave them a solid leader who had just signed a six year contract extension, showing he wanted to be a part of what was coming together in L.A.
The Kings were struggling to score a couple of years ago. That brought on the trade for Jeff Carter, sending blueliner Jack Johnson to Columbus. The scoring picked up and the stellar play of Jonathan Quick got the team hot during a memorable playoff run. Through all of the moves, when it came to timely scoring and bone crunching hits, Brown stepped up time and again. In the 20 games it took the Kings to win the Cup that year, Brown matched with 20 points consisting of eight goals and 12 assists. One of those goals came on the power play, two were short-handed and three were game winners. To round out his play, Brown was a +16 and added 34 penalty minutes, showing he was an impact in every facet of the game. His hits on Henrik Sedin and Michal Rozsival showed the Kings weren’t taking prisoners. He was skating through people and demanding the same of his teammates in the process, truly leading by example.
Last year saw the Kings go through similar struggles. They had trouble scoring early and the team fell behind in the standings. Was it a Cup hangover? Was the Cup year a magical run that couldn’t be duplicated? Starting March 1st, Brown, who was also struggling during the lockout year, picked his game up again. In the 28 games after that, Brown had 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points. He was a +9 in that time and his 156 hits in 46 games helped him finish in 8th place in the league for the season. The Kings finished the season in 5th place in the West, beating St. Louis in six games and San Jose in seven before falling to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals.
This year brings something new. For a team that has struggled to score for some time, a talented top six forward set gets a full training camp together. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar along with Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Justin Williams and young talent Tyler Toffoli will likely round out the top two lines. Following up are the new additions of Daniel Carcillo and the speedy Matt Frattin to fit in with key faceoff man Jarret Stoll and the energizing group of Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Trevor Lewis, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan. If this group can get on the same page, they will finally be able to score and with Jonathan Quick in net and a rock solid group of defensemen in front of him, the Kings may very well be headed for great things this season. But back to Brown…
It’s no surprise that as Brown goes so do the Kings. His contract is up after 2014-15. The franchise would be wise to lock up their only Cup lifting Captain for another term. Leaders like Dustin Brown are few and far between.