In My Own Words - Dustin Brown (part 3)
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 the four playoff rounds in the third part of a special four-part series.
1st Round vs. Vancouver
So we got to the first round of playoffs, and we're going up against a team that's probably been the best team in the league for the last two years consecutively. They came up one game short of winning the Stanley Cup last year, and won the Presidents’ Trophy two years in a row, so I think their record and the way they’ve played over the last two years spoke for itself.
The most interesting thing I think for series one was our expectations going in as a group. Two years before it was our first playoff matchup and we were happy to be there, but lost in the first round. The year after, Kopi—arguably our best player—had gotten hurt and we again lost in the first round. Coming into this round, expectations outside the room were that we were going to lose in five or six games and I think that drove guys and gave us a little extra motivation. Not that you need it this time, but I think honestly in that room we believed we had an opportunity to beat that team. Not in the sense that we just thought we had a really good team in there. Ever since the trade deadline, we'd been playing good hockey, scoring more goals and helping out our goaltender.
With Quickie in net, if we could find a way to score three goals, the chances of us winning the game were definitely good. That first round was a great round for me personally, and I just kind of fed off the momentum I had ever since the trade deadline. I just wanted to send a message about the type of player, and the type of person I am, as well as how I respond to adversity.
That first round was maybe a little bit of my coming out party, but I think that goes hand-in-hand with the team. I think no one gave us a shot, no one really knew what we were about, and I think we shocked British Columbia when we came back with a 2-0 lead. I think Game Three was probably the pivotal game in that series. You know it's either a 2-1 or 3-0 lead in the series, and we found a way to grind one out and score a goal to win the game 1-0.
I think that really demoralized not only the Vancouver fan base but the Vancouver team on the bench. One of those momentum-type changes was the hit on Henrik Sedin, and I said this to the media after the game: I think it was a mixture of a lot of things that made that hit maybe a series changer for both teams, but the first thing was it was Henrik Sedin, their best player. If that's a third or fourth-line guy—not to discredit those guys—but if that's a third or fourth-line guy, it's probably not as devastating of a hit. The location of the hit too—right in front of their bench—it just happened to work out. I think it really changed the momentum of that game and the series.
My favorite thing about that was getting see Stolly get the game winner in Game Five, because you talk about the ultimate team guy, and Jarret Stoll is that guy for us. And he probably struggled a little bit with his numbers last year, not having the year he would have liked, but he played well and scored a big goal for us in that first round.
Again, I think we kind of shocked the hockey world when we beat the Canucks. From a team standpoint we always believed we had a chance, but when we did it, that was the first time past the first round for a lot of guys and I think it solidified our belief that we had the team to do something special.
2nd Round vs. St. Louis
After we beat the Canucks, we had to face the second best team in the West, the Blues. Again we were expected to lose in five or six games, and what we did in Vancouver was a fluke. Again, you don’t need the extra motivation but sometimes when you’re in the underdog role it takes a little pressure off of you and also motivates you at the same time. I think we had a good game plan against the Blues especially when you talk about how similar our teams were.
I remember going over the rosters prior to the series, and go, ‘Goalie versus goalie—I’d take our goalie,’— and it was the same thing all the way through. We had better players in my opinion. It was just a matter of playing our game. I think the key to winning that series was that we beat them at their own game very early on in those first two games, and they were really frustrated coming back to LA down 2-0.
That series was hard to remember. I’ve been in LA for a very long time and played a lot of games at STAPLES Center, and one of the best parts of that whole series was that clinching game when we scored in that empty net. That was the loudest I’ve ever heard that building. It sent chills down my back and I think everyone kind of felt that energy in that moment when they were excited. The fans were obviously excited about going on to the third round for the first time since ’93. As players we started to really focus on playing good hockey—a team game during that series—and we got them off their game and just really played well together as a team.
3rd Round vs. Phoenix
Going into the third round in Phoenix was probably one of the first times we were not the underdog in the series, and we were expected to win. I honestly don’t think the players really felt the pressure of that. I mean when you have that belief system internally, the outside expectations don’t really have that weigh on you and your teammates, so we were a pretty confident group going into Phoenix. But this time we were playing for a chance to move on to the Stanley Cup Final, so there’s going to be pressure in every game.
We got off to an unbelievable start again, getting up 3-0 in the series, and it was a hard fought series. For me personally, it was a difficult series. I got off to a good start and they found a way to really take it to me physically. They’re a lot harder on me physically than the other teams had been in the previous two series, but you know I found a way to have my impact and again a big part of my game is the physicality.
Talking about that fifth game with Pens getting the big goal, there’s a lot of controversy before it, and I’ve said this before about my hit on Rozsival -- it was a fast play and I still think it was a clean hit at the end of the day. I think if a goal happens 10 minutes after that hit as opposed to 10 seconds, we’re probably not even sitting here talking about that hit. Again, it was a momentum changer in the sense that they were not only upset about the hit, but lost their focus for enough time for us to score a quick goal to end the series, and go on to the Stanley Cup Final.
At that point, the puck goes in and we’re not thinking of anything else but the Stanley Cup and playing for it. It’s a long, long journey, not only for this team but for individuals. Most players dream of winning the Cup when they’re four or five years old, and when Pens put that puck in there, we finally had an opportunity to live out our dream and that was an exciting opportunity that was ahead of us.
I don't really know what to say about the Stanley Cup Final. I think it was a special time for all the players involved. It was hard waiting when we had to wait for New Jersey to finish out their series, and then we had to travel across the country.
We were a confident group and we got up 3-0 in that series too. I remember sitting in the locker room before Game Four, and you could feel the pressure mounting, only from the opportunity. I mean the Cup is in the building, but the City of Los Angeles has been waiting for this for 45 years and they finally had an opportunity; the first opportunity in team history to actually to lift the Cup. I mean, the Kings were in the Cup Finals in '93, but they lost four games to one, and there was never that point where there was a real possibility of winning the Stanley Cup as an organization...that Game Four was our first opportunity, and the city was just ready to burst with joy.
I think that definitely weighed on some players and we played a decent game. Jersey, they found a way to win and got a late goal. I remember it was almost like a big huge letdown from the fan base and maybe from the city as a whole. But the reassuring thing was we got back in that room, and we understood that we were still in control. We let that opportunity slip by, but we have another one coming out in Game Five in Jersey. Let’s play, let’s re-focus, and get ready to go again and that's what we did.
We go to Jersey, and it’s the same thing. The pressure wasn't there, but it was another opportunity, and again they found a way to win the game. Coming back to Los Angeles, the outside people thought all the pressure was on us, and I guess that's the media's job to write all those things, but I remember sitting in STAPLES Center after the pre-game skate at 10 in the morning, and I'm not sure of the reporter I was talking to, but I was just looking around the room, looking at the guys, and I mean no one was nervous about the game. And then it dawned on me, ‘You know, this is our game, this is a game we're supposed to win.’ There was a calm and coolness about the group, we had lost two games and you could sense it, it was a lot different than Game Four. Game Four there was a lot of nervous energy.
That morning of Game Six, guys were just going about their business like it was like another game and right then and there I said to the reporter, “We're winning this game tonight. This is our game tonight.” And that was just the feeling I had with how the boys were responding to being back home.
Game Six was super special I think not only for the players, but also as an organization. Winning Game Six on home ice in front of the home crowd when you got 45 years of frustration as a Kings fan was really special for the fans and for the City of Los Angeles. To witness my teammates and myself lifting that Cup, and doing it on home ice I think was the most special thing about it from a fan standpoint.
From a personal standpoint, my favorite moment as a kid was dreaming of winning in Game Seven of triple overtime, and scoring the goal that wins the Stanley Cup. That was my dream, I'm sure that was everyone’s dream.
I'm not sure when Trevor Lewis scored that goal, but I remember we were up 5-1, we scored that goal and the best part about that situation and the whole atmosphere was for about three-and-a-half to four minutes we were like a bunch of 10 year olds at the bench jumping up and down celebrating. That was something that was more special to me than any of the other stuff that precluded or went after that. It was the fact that the 25 that poured their heart and soul into last nine, 10 months—and to some extent their whole lives—were sitting there just celebrating on the bench like no one else was in that building. I mean STAPLES Center could have been completely empty and I think the celebration on that bench would have been the same.
That was probably the one thing I cherish the most of the whole Game Six and the Cup Final and everything else. I mean lifting the Cup is, to be honest with you; I can't put it into words... It's hard to explain.
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 the final account by Brown.