The crew on the ice for an optional skate typically doesn’t change much. Usually, it’s the scratched players from the previous game, often accompanied by the third- and fourth-line forwards, younger defensemen such as Alec Martinez and Slava Voynov, and backup goalie Jonathan Bernier. Veteran defenseman, and noted rink rat, Willie Mitchell will often join in. This morning, though, captain Dustin Brown was on the ice before anyone. Brown, along with consultant Bernie Nicholls, worked on tip-in drills. On a morning when he didn’t need to be on the ice at all, Brown spent time working on his game. It’s the type of small thing that, by itself, might not mean a ton, but signifies leadership and an attitude of always seeking to improve.
BROWN: “This time of year, it’s getting what you need. It was an optional today. I just thought I’d go out early and specifically work on tips, just because I’ve been having a lot of opportunities to tip pucks and I’ve been missing them. You only get one or two opportunities a game to tip a puck. I just wanted to go out there and work on it a little bit.’’
On an unrelated note, Brown also shared a little bit of his leadership style when asked about the development of Drew Doughty. Brown was asked about the role that Mitchell has taken on, in terms of being something of a mentor to Doughty, and Brown was also asked about the ways in which he has tried to help Doughty. Within the locker room, Doughty seems to be considered as something of a little brother.
BROWN: “Drew, he has definitely grown a lot since his first year here. I think he’s had to do what most young players don’t, which is to grow under the spotlight. Most guys spend a few years in the minors and come up. He’s been in the spotlight ever since he’s been here, and he has handled it pretty well. Part of that is just the type of person he is, and part of it is the type of guys we have in the room, collectively, pushing him in the right direction. He’s definitely one of those guys (who), he acts like he’s not going to listen, but he does. That goes a long way.’’
Question: What is a way that he listens without seeming like it?
BROWN: “We’re roommates on the road. … He had the thermostat (wrong in the hotel room), and I think he has only missed it three times since.’’
Question: Is he like your fourth child?
BROWN: “Me and Lewie [Trevor Lewis] talk about it. I’m his chaperone on the road, and Lewie is his chaperone at home.’’