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LA Kings: Dean Lombardi’s Plan For Dustin Brown Appears To Be Working

Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — Last June, when the Los Angeles Kings announced that center Anze Kopitar would replace winger Dustin Brown as captain, Brown was not happy about the change, even though he said that he respected the decision and fully supported Kopitar.

At the time, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi said that one of the reasons for the change was to help Brown get his game back after struggling since the team won the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship.

“The other part that’s critical, and like I told him, when you have a responsibility for 23 guys, he perfectly recognizes that for us to be successful, as a team, he has to get his game back to where he’s capable,” said Lombardi. “[Even though] he hasn’t produced at the level he’s certainly capable [of], I don’t think it’s been his effort. In a lot of cases, it’s that he tries so hard and is so critical of himself. He puts enormous pressure on himself.”

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LA Kings Are Gambling On Reunification and Chemistry Against Divisional Rivals

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here during a recent practice at the
Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
{click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — On their recent seven-game road trip, the Los Angeles Kings earned a 3-2-2 record even though they had to shuffle their forward lines after both Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli suffered injuries, forcing them out of the lineup.

Brown returned for the final two games of the trip, but Toffoli remains out of the lineup and did not join the team on their Tuesday afternoon flight to Vancouver, where they will play on Wednesday night, followed by a game at Edmonton on Thursday.

Head coach Darryl Sutter said that Toffoli would not even be examined by doctors again “…for at least a week.” As a result, he has reunited center Anze Kopitar with Brown and Marian Gaborik on a forward line.

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Dustin Brown’s Improved Play Is About Much More Than Not Wearing The “C”

Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — No, he’s not setting the National Hockey League on fire, nor is he hot enough to melt the ice he’s been skating on. Nevertheless, much maligned forward Dustin Brown has not only been a far better player compared to the one he has been the last few seasons, but he has also been one of the Los Angeles Kings’ best players so far this season.

Through 20 games this season, Brown has scored three goals and has added six assists for nine points. That puts him on pace to score twelve goals and to contribute 25 assists for 37 points.

Last season, Brown ended the regular season with 11 goals and 17 assists, good for 28 points in 82 games.

Although that extrapolation seems to indicate that Brown isn’t showing a tremendous amount of improvement over last season, numbers don’t tell the whole story.

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Dustin Brown Deserved Much Better From LA Kings

LA Kings forward Dustin Brown, shown here during a November 2015 practice at the
Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — Although the decline in his level of play has been rather glaring, even before he helped lead the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2012, right wing and now former captain Dustin Brown deserved better treatment than he has received this summer since news leaked that he was no longer captain.

On May 27, TSN’s Frank Seravalli first reported on Twitter that Brown would no longer be captain. But there was no confirmation from the Kings, not even a comment, until June 17, when they named center Anze Kopitar as their new captain.

Brown broke his silence on June 30, and during a very candid, often blunt, media conference call, among the things that became clear was that the Kings bungled the whole situation.

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Changing Of The Guard: LA Kings Name Anze Kopitar As New Captain

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — On June 17, the Los Angeles Kings made official what had been mostly a foregone conclusion for a few weeks…that right wing Dustin Brown was captain no more.

Indeed, the Kings announced a changing of the guard, with center Anze Kopitar being named their new captain.

Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi told the media during a conference call that the reasons for the change were two-fold. But he stressed that the primary reason was that it’s time to expand the horizons of other players and allow them further growth.

“There’s a number of things that go into this,” said Lombardi. “Number one, being a captain, there’s no doubt that you’re not only responsible for your own game, but 23 other players. That is an enormous responsibility. That’s an enormous amount of work to be responsible for twenty people. The second part of this—you know how I feel about culture and chemistry and the things that don’t necessarily show up on a chart, or anything of that nature. My feeling on this is that, at some point, there has to be an evolution in the growth of some of your other players, the players who have come through the system. It’s essentially their turn.”

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