In My Own Words - Dustin Brown (part two)
Fans can relive the greatest season in Los Angeles Kings history with The Official Story of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The commemorative book contains key details and images from the run, a foreword by Luc Robitaille, an introduction from Bob Miller and an afterward from Dustin Brown. Also included is an exclusive DVD with Bob Miller and Jim Fox announcing the Cup-clinching Game 6.
In recent weeks LAKings.com has been offering up various chapters in the book on-line. Brown -- who had one goal and two assists in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final – also contributed a great deal to the book and here now are parts of those stories (some of which did not make the final edition of the book).
We hope you enjoy this read on LAKings.com as Brown, in his own words, shares his story on his first trip to the playoffs, changes that were made in 2011, trade rumors and the 2012 stretch drive in the second of a special four-part series.
First Playoff Appearances
I remember me and Greener sitting on a plane one day, and I think it kind of occurred to both of us that if we wanted to take that next step and make the playoffs, something needed to change. Again, I think part of it was we had to lose before we learn how to win. That was our last losing season, when we we’re sitting on the plane.
We talked about getting together in the summer time and getting some workouts in, and more or less, get to know each other. Not just five or six guys, but 15 or 20 guys. We had a good turnout in the summer, and that following year we came back with a little different attitude. That was the year we ended up pushing into the playoffs, and that was a huge step for this team, and each step was a learning curve.
I remember that first year playing the [Vancouver] Canucks, we were almost just happy to be there, and it was a big step for our team, but we didn’t know what it took. We finally figured out what it took to get to the postseason. We didn’t have any clue at that point what it took to make a difference at that time of year, and again that was a learning experience we all learned together—the core group of guys. I can’t tell you how valuable that is when you go through something together that’s hard. It brings you closer together as individuals off the ice, which is probably the most important thing about creating a special team.
I think we were a little more focused the next year and we made the playoffs again but we lose Kopi maybe 10 games left to go in the year. You know, it's again another learning experience, but we need to make that next step and as a team—the core. We’d gone through a lot together and get knocked out the first round by San Jose. So we again get that learning lesson from losing the playoffs and that off-season was probably another turning point for this organization.
Additions and subtractions in 2011
I was in the Philadelphia airport ironically, coming back from the NHL Awards, and I go on my phone and see that the Kings traded for Philadelphia's Mike Richards. The very first thought in my head at that point was, ‘Ok now the management is sending a message to us players that we're going to go for it.’
Mike Richards totally changed the way our team was built. It took stress off of Stolly so he could become a third line center, it takes stress off of Kopi, and he'll still be our number one. Now there's a second aspect, a second dimension to our team. I think that's when probably expectations for this team from the outside media started to really develop.
A lot of people had us as contenders for the Cup going into the year, and I think more importantly when you trade for a guy like Mike Richards who has a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence, that trickles down to your team when you get a guy like that through a trade. It totally changed the way our team thought about itself. Up into that point, we all thought we were a really good team. We made the playoffs, but we hadn't done anything in the playoffs yet, and this is a guy who's proven that he's a playoff guy. Bringing him in going into the season there was a lot of expectations, and those expectations probably weighed on us heavily. But more important we had our own expectations, and I think we truly believed we had a really good team.
We started the year out in Europe, which was a unique experience and things were just not going well for the team. We were going through a lot of adversity, and we couldn’t find a way to score, but luckily we have a goalie by the name of Jon Quick, who’s been pretty much the backbone. He carried us, quite honestly, all year long. I mean, we won games 1-0. I don’t know how many shutout wins he had, or how many games we lost by a goal. We just couldn’t find the goal. We were struggling—it ultimately cultivated in a four game homestand and we went 0-4.
Unfortunately, Terry Murray had to get let go at that time and that was probably the low point for this team in all the years that I had been here since Terry was here. That was a pretty devastating time for not only the coaching staff and the management to have to make a change like that, but I think the players really took it to heart. There was a sense amongst the players that I think it was, by no means Terry’s fault, the way we were playing. It was the responsibility of the players on the ice to get the job done and we were not getting the job done, maybe with the exception of Jon Quick. We just couldn’t find ways to score.
I think at that time, there were a few games when Johnny [Assistant Coach John Stevens] coached, and no one really knew what was going on. Again, those were the early struggles, and the firing of Terry Murray was a really tough, but again I’ve said this a few times; it’s a tough situation and we went through it together, which allowed us to lean on each other at a really tough time for us both individually and collectively as a team.
So Darryl Sutter got hired on, and no one really knew what to expect. He hadn’t coached in a few years and I think everyone knew the type of reputation he had. I think a lot of guys were surprised. We had a closed-door meeting with just the players and Darryl, and one of the things he said was, “I’m here for two reasons. One is Dean and the other, I look at you guys and I believe in you and I’m here to help you.” I think that really went a long way in gaining the players’ confidence and trust. We worked it from there. We didn’t all of a sudden get the goal scoring that we needed—that took time and ultimately a trade with Jeff Carter.
Again, it was a little bit like the Mike Richards trade in the summer in the sense that we needed a goal scorer and we finally found a guy through trade that changed the dynamic of our team in the sense that now not only do we have Mike Richards at the two seed spot, we also have Jeff Carter as a second winger spot. And when you have a guy who scored 40 goals in this league, I mean that’s a pretty good second line-winger, and it totally changes how teams play against your top line and how they match up. Again, it just gives it another dimension in our goal scoring. I think it was Jeff’s presence on the team that allowed other guys to maybe pick up their scoring right around the time that the trade deadline came.
Trade Rumors and Home Stretch
A few days before the trade deadline, it came out that I was available. Whether it’s true or not, you don’t know as a player, and you just kind of go about your business. It was a tough few days for me personally. Again, I grew up in this organization—as a player, as a person, as our captain, and our leader—so to be possibly out there in the sense that you feel like people are questioning whether you fit in with the team and your leadership capabilities. I mean all sorts of things just start popping in your mind. Every player has pride and when you hear you are possibly being traded, maybe it sparks a little fire under you. At the time I just tried to stay focused on the day-to-day, come to the rink, do my job and really just focus on what I needed to do to be better. And you know I think it’s fair to say that up until that point I could have been a lot better in my individual play, and I think that was probably maybe a mirror image of our team’s play. I think if you ask any of those players during that time, we knew we could have been a lot better and we had to be a lot better to even have a chance in making the playoffs.
Everyone talks about that Chicago game. Maybe it was a coincidence, maybe it was me being ticked off, quite honestly I couldn’t tell you, but I was really focused for that game. Again the rumors were out there that I was going to be traded, and as a competitive person, you want to prove people wrong and it’s probably one of my personal highlights coming out and getting a hat trick and an assist, and pretty much dominating it right around that time. It’s just kind of maybe sending a message to the trade rumors that I wanted to be a King, and that we had something special here, but it was a matter of playing to our potential.
I guess the trade deadline game was definitely the turning point for me personally in my season. I think when you hear those rumors, as a competitive person, it really motivates you to just be better. I knew I was capable of being better. I just tried to stay focused after that Chicago game. It was one game, and I kind of went on a tear. At the same time, as captain, regardless of trade rumors, we’re in a tough spot at that point in the season.
We had twenty-something games to go through and we really had to push it. For us to be able to make the playoffs, our best players needed to be best players and that was an opportunity for not only me to step up, but all our top players to step up and kind of send a message to the rest of the guys that we’re making the playoffs this year regardless of the hurdles and obstacles we have to go through. We were going to find a way and I was just one small part of a 25-man team that really came together at the right time to push and go to the playoffs.
I can’t really reiterate this enough with Quickie, he carried us all throughout. Especially in the second half of the season and even down the stretch, he was our best player. From game one overseas, right up to Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final. So I look at those trade rumors and they definitely motivated me to be a better player. Sometimes you just need a kick in the tail.
After the trade rumors and the trade deadline passed, I think the team really settled down and got into a rhythm where we started to really feel comfortable with the roster we had, and understood the challenge ahead of us. We had a little less than 20 games to make the playoffs and I think as a group we understood that we needed to be really good every night regardless of the opposition. I think that also trickled down to everyone’s individual play too.
For me personally, as a leader, it was my responsibility to be the best I could be. We had a lot of guys really buy in to the team game, which allowed our team and individuals to be successful during the stretch. We squeaked in the playoffs, but I think the guys as a group had to face adversity, and those are the types of situations that you don't want to be in, but when you are in them and you go through it together, and it really brings you closer together.
We've had a lot of those over the last few years with this core group of guys, and again we found a way to get to the playoffs. At the end of the day, you just got to get to the dance, and you never know what could happen.
THE BOOK -- MORE
The Collector’s Edition is $60 and includes the following: The book and DVD of Game 6 (versus New Jersey) with Miller and Fox’s call.
The Special Limited Edition is $450 and includes the following:
The book, DVD of Game 6, piece of authentic board glass from Game 6, leather binding and a presenting container. Only 450 of this edition have been printed.
LA Kings Full Season Ticket Members save $10 off the book.
To obtain a copy, shop TEAM LA Store at STAPLES Center or call 877-257-4916. Available only while supplies last.
More info: http://kings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=82869&navid=DL|LAK|home.
Visit LAKings.com/news now to read a similar piece from the book itself by Justin Williams, Colin Fraser, Mike Richards, Willie Mitchell and Drew Doughty. Also check back soon to LAKings.com/news to read two more accounts by Brown.