Behind The Bench: Dustin Brown
Born: November 2, 1984
Wt: 207 lbs
Draft: 13th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2003
Plays for: Los Angeles Kings, Right Wing, Shoots Right
Jersey No.: #23
Regular Season: 513 GP – 141 G – 164 A – 305 P
Playoffs: 12 GP – 2 G – 5 A – 7 P
Since entering the league, Dustin Brown has hit opponents more often than any other player since the lockout. He’s hit opposing players 1616 times. That’s 269 hits a year over his 6 year NHL career.
“This is just what I do, I hit people”
– Dustin Brown on the hitting aspect of his game
The Kings immediately rushed Brown into NHL action after drafting him in 2003 but Brown struggled in his first pro season and was often a healthy scratch. He finished his rookie season posting a disappointing 5 points and playing in 31 games. Thankfully for Brown, the NHL lockout afforded him the opportunity to spend a season in the AHL finding his game. Brown spent the lockout with the Kings’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, and scored close to a point per game in 79 games.
Brown made the Kings’ roster out of training camp in 05/06 and played as a checking forward. Despite his role as a checking forward, Brown still put up decent numbers, scoring 14 goals and 14 assists in 79 games. He finished the season in the top 6 for hits with 175, 3 more than rookie Alex Ovechkin.
After the 11th overall pick in 2005, Anze Kopitar, accepted an invitation from the L.A Kings in 2006, Brown’s hockey career experienced a dramatic turn of events. In one season, Brown went from playing on a checking line to playing on a scoring line with Anze Kopitar. The two found instant chemistry with their complementary styles of play. Brown with his north-south game finished the 06/07 season with 17 goals, 29 assists and 46 points. While Kopitar and his playmaking abilities finished with 20 goals, 41 assists, good for 61 points and he finished 3rd in rookie scoring. Although they had great success in their first season together, they didn’t become a deadly duo until the next season. Brown was rewarded with a six-year $19.05M contact extension for his improved play.
During the 07/08 season, the duo would combine for 65 goals, 72 assists and 137 points. Brown had a breakout season, he scored a career-best 33 goals, 27 assists and had a career-best 60 points. Brown proved to be one of the Kings most consistent players, rarely going more than 3 games without a point.
At the age of 23, Brown was named the 15th captain of the L.A. Kings, becaming the youngest and first American-born captain in Kings’ history. Brown continued his consistent play in the 08/09 season and posted 53 points in 80 games. On January 3, 2009, Brown was named to the 2009 NHL All-Star game, wore the number 24 and recorded 1 assist.
Brown played in 82 games and posted 56 points for the Kings in 09/10 and helped the Kings to their first playoff birth in 6 seasons. He played in his first NHL playoff game against the Vancouver Canucks. He played very well as he tallied 5 points before the Kings were eliminated in 6 games. Brown was also named to the U.S Olympic team for the 2010 Winter Olympics and was named as an alternate captain. Brown had a great 10/11 season posting 57 points in 82 games and was on pace to break his career-best in points until Kopitar became injured.
Dustin Brown is a fast hitting, north-south player. He is the type of player that will score a goal or lay a big hit to give the team momentum and get the crowd into the game. Brown has a pretty good shot and a great backhand. He loves to hit but isn’t a gritty forward, he plays more of a hit and run game. He doesn’t often get into fights and isn’t the type of player that will park himself in front of the crease and battle defenders to screen the opposing goalie. Instead, he likes to play around the net and will stand by the side of the crease where he likes to knock in rebounds and score on back door plays. Like all power forwards in the league, Brown uses his size and body to protect the puck, however, he opt’s to dump the puck into the opposing zone and isn’t willing to go into traffic or crash the net. Brown doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’s a good skater that can beat defenders wide and has decent stick-handling abilities.
Despite his career -48, Brown is not as bad defensively as his stats indicate. The Kings were a team with suspect goaltending and below-average defense. Yes, there are times he will get out of position while making a hit and he isn’t the hardest back checker in the league, but he can be relied on in his own zone. Just like Kopitar, Brown has made huge strides to improve his defensive game compared to when he first entered the league.
Brown is a great player, he can hit, skate and score, and usually does all these during the same shift. Brown has settled in as a 55-60 point player but he has the skills and ability to be more. He could be a consistent 30 goal scorer and 70-80 point player but to achieve this, he needs to get a little stronger on his skates and be willing to park himself in front of the net for tips and screens. Hopefully, Mike Richards can teach Brown how to play the power forward game as a smaller player and show him how to park himself in front of the net and battle.
Brown is expected to start the season on the second line with Simon Gagne and Mike Richards. Both Gagne and Richards are great two-way forwards who have a knack for finding the back of the net. Both also just happen to be dynamite together on the penalty kill. It will be interesting to see what kind of chemistry these three can generate because if they don’t, head coach Terry Murray isn’t afraid to mix things up.
Brown will have a break out year this upcoming season. He should reach 30 goals and 70 points by season end.
This hit alone shows why Brown is the Kings’ Captain.
Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.
Edited by: John Jasinski