When Dustin Brown met with a small cluster of reporters Wednesday night outside the visitors’ locker room at Joe Louis Arena, the frustration of not being on the ice in a Los Angeles Kings jersey was heard as clearly as the arena horn that interrupted his thoughts to signal a third period Red Wings goal.
Respectful of the league’s decision to hand down a two-game suspension due to his elbow to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville on Tuesday night, Brown was both dissatisfied and accepting of the decree.
“I was disappointed, obviously,” Brown said. “At this juncture of the season you want to be out there with your teammates, especially trying to secure home ice. But it is what it is, right?”
Reiterating the position he offered following Los Angeles’ 2-1 loss in Minnesota the night prior, Brown articulated his recollection of the play and the defense he offered to the league that ultimately led to the first suspension of his nine-year NHL career.
“You’re just trying to make a wall play there. I have two hands on my stick. I’m expecting physical confrontation. My elbow’s out before he comes in. He’s pretty low. They agreed with a lot of what I said. I mean, it was an elbow right in his head, but it’s not like I know where he’s coming in at. I’m more focused about the puck at that point and knowing there’s going to be some type of physical pressure on my backside.”
In regards to the two-game suspension, Brown appeared to be mindful of the league’s considerations.
“Who knows,” Brown answered when asked if he thought the ruling was too stiff. “They’ve got to deal with a lot of different scenarios. Like I said, it is what it is. I think no games would’ve been better, but I think every player will say that.”
The Kings’ now have a new Iron Man in Rob Scuderi, who has played in 263 consecutive games dating back to December 7, 2009. The team record is 330, set by Anze Kopitar from March 21, 2007 to March 26, 2011.
Brown had appeared in 314 consecutive games between February 27, 2009 and April 23, 2013. Despite his rugged style of play, missing games due to physical limitations has hardly factored into his NHL career.
“I think it’s disappointing,” Brown said. “From a physical standpoint, after the suspension, I’ll have missed six games in maybe eight years, and the other four games were my kids [births]. Especially for the way I play, it’s just a matter of getting back out there. I don’t worry about records or anything. Kopi probably beat that the way he takes care of himself. He’s a pretty durable guy for the way he plays, too.”
When Game 1 of Los Angeles’ first round playoff series rolls around – an event that seems farther away than it actually is, considering the multiple scenarios that could have the Kings finishing fourth, fifth or sixth – Brown will be on the ice looking to recapture the chemistry he engineered with linemates Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, assuming the trio is reunited after some line juggling necessitated by Brown’s departure in the Detroit game.
“I would imagine I’m with Kopi, but that’s for Darryl to decide. I’m good playing wherever,” Brown said. “We had pretty steady line combos last year in the playoffs. I’m assuming that we would go maybe not necessarily with the same line combos, but once we have them set, we’ll probably stick with them.”
Not fond of watching Kings games he’s not playing in, Brown may struggle with Saturday’s home date with San Jose, a game that would determine if Los Angeles hosts a playoff series for the first time since 1992 should St. Louis be unable to win its remaining games against Calgary and Chicago.
“It’s disappointing not to be playing in these games tonight and on Saturday, especially when they mean so much for home ice,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I’ll be back for Game 1. As a player, as a team, that’s when the fun really begins.”