Dustin Brown on engineering a winning culture
By the third round of the National Hockey League playoffs, some players grow weary of locker room press scrums, and with the raised importance of each passing game are occasionally inclined to dilute their own opinions as a means of expeditiously fulfilling their media obligations.
And then there is captain Dustin Brown, who listens and thoughtfully prepares a response to each question asked of him before offering an honest, thorough response in which multiple angles are addressed. There is never any artifice, pretension or damage control in his replies – though such humility is naturally inherent in many hockey players.
On Thursday, he articulated the evolution of the team culture and ways in which the Kings have engineered wins between the 2012 and 2013 postseasons.
On Dean Lombardi’s assertion that the team is no longer “learning to win” and this season has been about “learning to deal with success”:
“It’s a pretty different feeling in the room as players, and I think around the league about us. And it’s easy – I shouldn’t say ‘it’s easy’ – but it’s different coming in and winning your first and surprising everyone. I mean, everyone had us I think losing every round pretty much. A lot of people had us losing every round. Now that we have the target on our back and we have the experience of last year, we’re not going to catch anybody by surprise with that. But it’s learning how to do it again. It’s a whole other animal. Winning it once is hard. Winning it a second time becomes harder once you do it.”
On what it takes to win for a second time:
“It’s just dealing with adversity, I think. Being down two-nothing in St. Louis, we responded well in that series. And then going into a Game 7, I thought we had a really good game – same thing against San Jose. It’s just little things. I think at the end of the day, though, for this group, it’s that we’ve been in the trench hole together for a long time. It’s not like we were all thrown together last year and did something great. The majority of our guys have been together for four or five years, and that goes a long way in building the trust and the bonds that you need to have to deal with the really hard parts of the game.”
On finding different ways to win in the postseason:
“I mean, I guess the best way to put it is we kind of screwed ourselves doing what we did last year because that set the standard, right? I think it was unrealistic looking back on it to think we could do that again, but I think the more important thing is exactly that. We’re finding different ways to win. I think last year we had it very similar in the sense that we had different guys step up at different times, and…the strength of our team is that it’s not Kopi or Dewey that have to do it every night. We have different guys that can step up to the plate at different times. And that’s a huge part of our team, but I think the way in which we’re winning – I mean, last year was a lot different. We had complete control of every series, every game from start to finish, it seemed like. I mean, we’ve come from behind I don’t know how many times, at least to my knowledge, to win games. Winning games – tight, tight games – you just kind of go through it. When you’re going through it you’re not thinking about it, but it’s just stuff you pick up along the way.”
On his interpretation of Jonathan Toews being a “quiet leader”:
“I mean, I don’t know. That’s what they say, right? He definitely is probably the heart and soul of that team…Like I said, for me, with him it’s about his compete level. It’s very similar to Zach Parise in the sense that [it’s] a very high skill level, but their compete might be higher than their skill, and that doesn’t happen very often with those high-end skill guys. So that’s the challenge, right?”