When speaking with reporters earlier this week, Dustin Brown had not yet come down from the high of having won his second Stanley Cup – though the emergence from the daily grind had clearly been lifted. He wasn’t dealing with any injuries, but rather the strain and wear associated with playing hockey into the second week of June.
“Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said with a smile. “The normal 105-game body.”
Of course, he may want to be responsible and stretch his arms and back to prepare himself for a long summer of lifting the 34.5 pound trophy, which has begun in earnest over the last week in Los Angeles. There have been parades, family gatherings, parties, trips to the beach and other celebrations in which he has been the team’s own personal Keeper of the Cup, if not one of the official, Hockey Hall of Fame Cup Keepers.
“I always say I never get sick of carrying it. I get tired of it, though,” he joked.
“I mean, it’s a little different from our first time around, I think, just because we know how all this goes,” he said. “But at the end of the day it’s been a long, hard year, and when you get to win the last game, you get to celebrate. It’s been a fun few days. Like I said, it’s not just this. It kind of goes into next week with the NHL awards, and then the summer starts and guys have their days with the Cup. Again, it’s all worth it.”
It’s a celebration that had been unfamiliar to a several veterans. It was a special moment when Robyn Regehr lifted the Cup for the first time in his life. To pass the Cup to the veteran of 1,022 games was “a pretty easy decision” according to the Kings captain.
“It was either him or Gabby,” Brown said. “With Reg, again, he got hurt in Round 2, but no one saw other than us what he did in the locker room. He dressed, warm-ups, he was very vocal and a big part of our team inside that locker room that none of you guys got to see. At the end of the day, he’s been a part of this team, and he’s a big reason why we won. I think that’s what this team’s all about, is a guy who missed – what was it, 15 games, more? 20 games? – and he still had an impact and a role in winning a championship. For me, it was just special. Like, I said this before – the two times I’ve been able to pass the Cup, I’ve been able to pass it to someone who hasn’t touched it, which is really cool for me on a personal level.”
Brown also articulated the effect on the team by Gaborik, who raised the Cup for the first time shortly after Regehr.
“I mean, when you get a player like that, he’s a game breaker,” Brown said. “I think we all knew what he could bring to the table, and he definitely brought it. He led our team in goals in the postseason, which is exactly what we kind of expected from him, and I think it’s very much like when we got Rick. It took pressure off of Kopi and slotted Stolly at the three spot at center and it evened things out. That was two years ago, and now Carts has moved to center. It’s all about slotting guys in the right position. When we brought in Carts, it took the pressure off of Kopi and Justin and me and all the guys who were expected to score goals, because now we had Carts to score goals. It was just another addition of that. I think the year of 2012, we had 10 goal scorers. I think it was me, Carts and Kopi all had 10 goals, or right around that area. This year, we had five or six guys with seven-to-15. It just allows guys to slot in better. From a defensive standpoint or a match-up standpoint, are you going to match Kopi and Gabby, or are you going to match Carts? It makes harder decisions for the opposing teams, and if you look at all the good teams, they always have that one-two punch, or sometimes that one-two-three punch.”
An unrestricted free agent, Gaborik’s contract discussions with the team weren’t speculated upon by Brown, though he did note that he had seen general manager Dean Lombardi – whom he referred to as “the mad scientist” – on the treadmill earlier in the week and smiled when saying “I’m sure he’s already scheming” in regards to upcoming personnel decisions.
“That’s one of those things, especially the last few weeks, you’re not talking about whether he’s going to sign or not in the middle of the playoffs. But i think the only thing I can say is that when he came here, he felt very comfortable in our locker room,” Brown said of Gaborik. “At the end of the day, when you win, there’s no price on winning. There’s nothing quite like it. But at the end of the day, he’s earned the right to be a free agent. I think we would all love to have him stay here, but that’s a decision for him and him only to make.”
Dustin Brown, on how he’ll spend his day with the Stanley Cup:
I haven’t really thought that far ahead. I’m going to bring it home again, but what I do with it, I’m not sure.
Brown, on having raised “the bar”:
What we did this year I think solidifies us as a very good team in this league. I think after we won the first one, everyone was wondering if it was a fluke, or if we just got hot at the right time. But to win two in three years, you put your organization on the map. You look at teams who have won multiple championships in this league in a close amount of time, and there’s not very many in the last 20 years. It’s, I think, obviously contributions from a lot of people to put us here. At the end of the day it’s about getting better. Right now we’re enjoying it, but in a couple weeks we start refocusing again, which is hard to think about right now.
Brown, on looking ahead:
I think in the weeks after you win the Cup, there’s a lot of excitement and joy. As players, we know what goes into this, and that starts in a few weeks when we have to start training and getting our bodies back to where they need to be to play 100 games again. Again, all that work is behind the scenes. No one sees that except for the players and each other, really. So, again, right now, the season we had and how many games we played and how hard it was, it’s important – just as important as it is getting ready in three weeks – it’s really important that we enjoy this and recover the right way, take it all in, because at the end of the day, this is why you play to win. And when you win, you earn the right to enjoy it, and then when the time’s right, you get ready to go again.