Critics Of Dustin Brown’s Captaincy Of Los Angeles Kings No Longer Have A Leg To Stand On

Los Angeles Kings right wing and team captain Dustin Brown
Photo: David Sheehan
LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — Ever since Dustin Brown was named as the 15th captain of the Los Angeles Kings on October 8, 2008, many have been highly critical of his captaincy, with a considerable number calling for the “C” to be ripped off his chest, something that has become a common, repeated refrain, year after year.

Indeed, all it takes is a quick perusal of Kings-related message boards on the World Wide Web to find a large amount of those who have called for the captaincy to be taken away from Brown, going back to the 2008-09 season, his first year wearing the “C.”

Critics of Brown’s captaincy have many reasons for their strong beliefs, even though some have changed their tune after watching him lead the Kings to a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinal playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, with Game 4 scheduled for April 18, at Staples Center in Los Angeles (7:00 PM PDT, televised exclusively in the United States on the NBC Sports Network). Still, a significant number of them point to the fact that he is not the fiery, loud, vocal, in-your-face type of player, that he rarely fights, and that he is not even the best player on the team.

That last point has been proven to be phony time and time again. In fact, many would point to Washington Capitals superstar and captain Alexander Ovechkin as a case in point. As for the other two points, they mean little.

Maybe not even that much.

To be sure, being fiery, loud and vocal, getting in the faces of teammates, and dropping the gloves barely scratch the surface of the make-up of a National Hockey League player. Furthermore, they do not even make the list of prerequisites for being a captain of an NHL team, despite what so many believe.

That’s right folks. Being fiery, loud and vocal, and fighting a lot, are not required to be the captain of an NHL team, and never have been.

Brown joined the Kings in the 2003-04 season, and ever since that time, he has always contained his emotions. He is certainly not the most vocal of NHL players, and has said many times that he chooses to lead by example, something that does not go unnoticed.

“He does everything,” said veteran center Mike Richards. “He not only leads by example, and in all areas, but he says the right thing at the right time in the dressing room.”

Richards knows what it takes to lead a team, having served as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers, leading his team deep into the playoffs in four of the six seasons he wore a Flyers jersey. As such, his words carry several tons of weight on this issue.

“He’s our most physical player, he scores huge goals for us, he steps up at the times he needs to,” Richards noted. “He’s everything you want in a leader, and more.”

As Richards indicated, Brown leads by example, both off the ice, and on it, and his play since late February serves as strong evidence—he has been the Kings’ best skater, by far.

“He’s been great,” said defenseman Drew Doughty. “It seems like ever since the trade deadline, he’s been playing unbelievably. He’s scoring key goals, at key times, and, not only is he leading offensively, but he’s making the big hits, and he’s playing well defensively, too.”

“That’s exactly what we need from our captain, and that’s why Brownie does the job he does,” added Doughty.

Fast forward to the present…the Kings are sitting on that whopping 3-0 series lead over the Canucks, with goaltender Jonathan Quick being the biggest reason for their good fortune. But Brown’s four goals and one assist for five points, with eleven hits in the series have him right up there with Quick.

Brown scored a goal in Game 1, scored two shorthanded goals in Game 2, and scored the only goal in Game 3, taking advantage of a defensive blunder by the Canucks.

But just as big was his mammoth hit that laid out Canucks star center Henrik Sedin in the second period of Game 3 on April 15 at Staples Center, right in front of the Vancouver bench.

“I just got a chance to finish my check, and I did,” said Brown. “They reacted the way any team would when their best player gets hit like that. That’s part of playoff hockey.”

“He was huge,” said center Jarret Stoll. “He scores the goal, he’s hitting everything that moves. That’s playoff hockey from our leader.”

Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, who is usually reticent (and that’s putting it mildly) to offer praise for his players, did not hesitate in Brown’s case, following Game 3.

“Brown was awesome again tonight,” he said. “He was a physical force. He’s been good in every game. He’s got a strong identity when he plays his game. When he plays that power game, that straight line game, he’s really effective.”

“He was huge again tonight,” he added. “He was really good again, in terms of the way he plays. That’s why he’s our captain.”

“He means everything to us,” said center Anze Kopitar. “That’s what he needs to do on a daily basis. He needs to be a force out there. He wants to do it, and we need him to do it. Tonight was probably one of the best games he’s played in a long time—I guess [Game 2] in Vancouver wasn’t too bad, either.”

Few people outside of the Kings organization get to see Brown in action off the ice. In fact, all the vast majority get to see is what he does on the ice, or on the bench, and even then, one cannot hear what he might say on the bench.

As such, Brown’s teammates and head coaches’ comments about his captaincy not only carry a huge amount of weight. They also amount to thousands of gallons of cold water being tossed on the critic’s fire.

To be sure, that fire has been extinguished, without even a spark.

Tickets for the Kings’ upcoming home playoff games against the Vancouver Canucks April 18, 2012, 7:00 PM – Canucks vs. Kings: Game 4; April 24, 2012, TBA – Canucks vs. Kings: Game 6 {if necessary}), are available from Barry’s Tickets, an official partner of the Los Angeles Kings. Use the code, “Royalty010” to get a 10 percent discount on their “Best Value” tickets.

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