Kings Brown Honored With Deserved Statue Saturday
And if you’re wondering what the identity of the 2012-2014 Los Angeles Kings was, just watch a few shifts of Brown and you’d have an answer.
After 1,296 games, 18 seasons — eight of which were spent as captain — two Stanley Cups, 712 points and 3,185 hits. Dustin Brown's 23 rose to the rafters Saturday night and the statue immortalizing him lifting the franchise's first Stanley Cup was revealed.
There was a lot of criticism when it was announced Brown's number would be retired and a statue would be built in front of Crypto.com Arena. A lot of claims that Brown didn't deserve these honors, specifically the statue. But those claims are wrong, Brown deserved everything he got Saturday.
Yes, his 0.55 points per game aren't very impressive. And he was never a truly elite player for an extended period of time. But there are no Stanley Cup banners hanging in Crypto.com Arena without Brown.
And I don't mean that in a cliché, everyone on a Cup-winning team deserves to be seen as a hero kind of way.
Drafted 13th overall in the legendary 2003 draft, there were several "better" players taken after Brown. Zach Parise, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to name a few. All of them had more productive individual careers than Brown, but if the Kings could go back and do that draft again, they'd take Brown again.
Whenever a team wins a Stanley Cup, or two, there's a ton of talk about their identity. What made that team great? And if you're wondering what the identity of the 2012-2014 Los Angeles Kings was, just watch a few shifts of Brown and you'd have an answer.
He embodied everything that team was about. He was the most physical player in hockey, he'd do anything to win and had the skill to play an effective north-south style of hockey. He was a lead-by-example type of captain and everyone followed.
And in 2012, he put together a sensational playoff to lead the Kings to a Stanley Cup. Many players refer to his hit on Henrik Sedin as the turning point for the Kings, after that, they were almost unstoppable. It was more than physicality though, alongside Anze Kopitar Brown led the playoffs in goals, assists and points with both players posting an identical 8-12-20 stat line.
That was the height of his performances on ice. He was still an integral part of the Kings in 2014 but wasn't the same dominant player during that run.
What truly made Brown deserving of all his honors came off the ice though. His NHL Foundation Player Award in 2011 is proof of his leadership in the community, but he meant so much more to California hockey than that award could capture.
During his acceptance speech, Brown referenced Wayne Gretzky and the impact he had as a builder for California hockey. Highlighting the impact it can have on local players like the Kings' own Trevor Moore. And it's true, the impact of Gretzky is unquestionable.
As someone who grew up in the California hockey scene during the Kings' dominance with Brown though, I can say that there are generations of California players and draft picks who view Brown in a similar light.
The impact he's had and continues to have on the California hockey community is immeasurable.
No, he won't be a Hall of Famer, not even close. But he is an all-time great King, not only for his on-ice leadership and prowess but for all he did off the ice too. He's as much a builder as he is a player, and there should be no question about if he should have been honored the way he was on Saturday.