“I thanked my teammates at the end of last season for giving me an opportunity to play for something, one more time my career. When we lost in game seven, I figured I’d never see that trophy again. I didn’t know about it, I think like five people knew about it, so when they brought that out, it gave me one last moment with that unbelievable trophy. It was amazing.”
Dustin Brown was heavily involved in the planning of his memorable night.
The planning process started two days after the Kings were eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Edmonton. Back in Los Angeles, Luc Robitaille called Brown in for a meeting and told him they were planning to retire his number 23 and build a statue in honor of his career.
Throughout the months that followed, the planning continued and Brown’s involvement in the process was immense. There was one moment, however, that he had no idea was coming. Until the day of the event, the amount of people who knew might have been a lower total than the number being raised to the rafters. On a night when everything was written down in advance, Brown was left speechless by one final surprise at the end of the ceremony. One final chance to lift the Stanley Cup, from the same spot on the ice in which he hoisted it back in 2012.
“It was not only in the same spot, but probably in front of a lot of the same people and that’s what that moment signifies, not just for myself but for the entire team, family, fans,” he said. “It was a special moment for a lot of us, it was really, really interesting and really fun to kind of re-live it tonight.”
The Stanley Cup’s presence was a special moment on a night filled with special moments. Special moments for Brown himself. Special moments for his family and friends. Special moments for all of his former teammates who were there to take in the moment. And special moments for all of the fans in attendance.
“I don’t like the attention but I’m proud of everything,” he said. “I got to share it with a lot of important people in my life, so that’s the main thing and I’d like to think it went very smoothly.”
The process wasn’t always one that Brown was comfortable with. Far from it, actually. In that first meeting, he learned that only Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky had an individual statue before him and he left that meeting not fully sold on the thought of being the next name added to that list. He needed some time, but he eventually got to where he needed to get to.
Brown touched on a conversation he had with Robitaille following that initial meeting, when he expressed that he wasn’t fully comfortable yet. He brought up the fact that Robitaille and Gretzky are the people and players that they were, with all of the accomplishments they had with the Kings. There’s one thing they never did, though, and it’s something that Brown did twice. He won here.
“[Luc] said ‘you did something we couldn’t do here’ and that made me immediately feel better about the whole situation,” Brown said. “As this night approached, I was part of a team that did it. What I was trying to say tonight is it represents us all.”
When it was all said and done, Brown will be remembered for a number of things, but naturally the first thing that comes to mind is being the first member of the LA Kings franchise to lift the Stanley Cup.
As a player growing up, Brown’s dream was to be drafted to the NHL, to play in the NHL and eventually to win in the NHL. He achieved all of those dreams with the Kings organization, culminating in the 2012 Stanley Cup championship. In the moment, it was about his realization of a dream and his teammates all doing the same. In the years that followed, he realized how much him achieving his dream meant to so many more who achieved theirs.
“I think the biggest thing since I retired was just seeing regular people, LA Kings fans at the grocery store who said thanks for that,” he recollected. “It’s the same story every time, 2012, it changed my life and that’s a special thing that I share with [the fans], that we all share with them. During that moment, that was my dream. To be frank, I wasn’t thinking about the fans in that moment. I didn’t think about the fans until you have 10 years to think about all this stuff. In that moment, I was just thinking about myself, my friends, my family, my teammates, but now, it’s really cool to see the flip side of it.”
More D.B. –
On coming to Los Angeles and spending his entire career here
I came to LA, I remember I was flying in it was like “how do they play hockey here”, it was palm trees and all that. When I got here, got comfortable, even early in my career, when I got here, we had Kings fans, you’d see them around and it was always “go Kings” it was a unique thing. Then, what we built, what we accomplished, it just exploded. Now, you have young and old, it’s a great hockey town and it’s also, at least for a player like me, it’s a great place for a player to play, because they love their hockey and I think it’s a great thing where you can be in a town and you can live a normal life without the pressures of playing in some of these other cities that it’s like a crazy town. At least with my personality, if I played in Canada, they think you’re a celebrity and that’s not for me. This is a town of celebrities, but not hockey celebrities, so it was a great fit for my personality and the way I kind of operate.
On the specialness of the 2014 Stanley Cup
2012 was special, because it was the first time for a lot of us, except for Scuds and Stick [Justin Williams]. It was the first time for all of us together to win and then it was the first time for all the Kings fans. In 2014, it was just a terrible road to get there. I think I touched on it earlier, some of the hardest moments, some of the worst moments, that’s where you look to the guy next to you, you’re just creating a bond at that moment. We had some moments and [it was] just never easy that year and then finally get to it……that’s the weird thing about that first one, it was never easy, but we were up 3-0 in every series. When people ask me which one was harder, it’s like well, they were both hard, but the second one was just a lot more work.
On getting emotional when talking about his teammates
When I started talking about the people, all of them as a whole. I think when you dream of playing in NHL and winning Stanley Cups, what you don’t think about is the relationships that you build, that will last you far beyond your playing days. I remember when I was writing and thinking about it, I wish I had more time to include more people because they all meant something to me. Greener, Stolly, Carts, and the three that play, I played with all those guys and we were looking at the numbers, I played 1000 games with a couple of them and all of them I think were 600+. When you play that many games – and to be honest with you, some of those teams were not very good – you go through some really terrible moments together. It’s just something about that group of players.