From the first time a 19-year-old Dustin Brown
donned the purple and gold of the Manchester Monarchs in the 2004-05 season, it was apparent he wasn’t just another player. It was very obvious that any player who could hit and score like him was headed for NHL greatness.
Four years later, ‘Brownie’ is the Los Angeles Kings’ captain, coming off his best season in which he scored 33 goals, and his status in the league was never more apparent than at the NHL All-Star Game less than two weeks ago in Montreal.
Inside the Western Conference dressing room at the Bell Centre, he was taking it all in. He shook hands with Montreal Canadiens legends Henri Richard, Yvan Courneyer and Serge Savard as they came through the room just prior to the opening face-off and then he went out on the ice and played alongside a future Hall of Famer.
“It was fun,” he said. “I got to play on a line with (Dallas Stars center) Mike Modano, who is probably the best American player in the game. It was just a good experience all over.”
Brown spent the entire 2004-05 lockout season in Manchester and helped the team to their first regular season Atlantic Division crown by scoring 29 goals and adding 45 assists for 74 points in 75 games.
“Manchester was a blessing in disguise for me,” he said. “It gave me that one year of pro hockey without having to worry if I was going to stick with the team. It let me learn the game at a pro level and I think that the years following that, it showed how valuable that season was to me.”
Brown also played in the 2005 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic which took place in the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. He was joined by teammates Michael Cammalleri, Mathieu Garon and Denis Grebeshkov on the ice. Teammates Tom Kostopoulos and Yanik Lehoux were also selected but did not play due to injury.
He was asked if that experience helped to prepare him for this year’s event, “You just have to have fun. That’s really what the All-Star game is about. Fans are looking for special moves and trick shots and some of these players are skilled enough to do that. I’m just going to sit back and watch.”
The Ithaca, New York native has 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points this season and believes that the Kings have a good chance to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2002.
As of Wednesday, February 4, they trailed Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference by four points.
“We’re right there on the cusp,” he said. “It’s really do or die time for us for the rest of the season. Right now, it’s time for us to really come together as a team. We have a chance (to make the playoffs) right now, which is something I haven’t been able to say before as a King at the beginning of February.”
Brown signed a six-year contract extension with the Kings on October 26, 2007 and was named the 15th Captain in Kings’ history on October 8, 2008. He is the youngest and first American-born captain in Kings’ history, as well as the first former Monarchs player to have the “C” stitched on his NHL jersey. Brown has a very promising future ahead of him and one could say it started in Manchester
By Chris Ryan | Special to LAKings.com