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Brown accepts challenge of helping Kings through rebuild

Two-time Stanley Cup champion aims to be part of the solution, example of winning culture

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Dustin Brown is all in for another rebuild with the Los Angeles Kings.

Only instead of being 19, new to the NHL, he's 35 and a two-time Stanley Cup champion, a veteran of 1,264 games, including 85 in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

"It's hard to do this again, but it's a challenge," said Brown, who has 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 62 games. "There are frustrations on a game to game basis just because we're learning. You learn how to lose before you learn how to win, and we've learned how to lose a lot of games this year."

Brown's experience, though, gives him a unique perspective on the current state of the Kings (25-35-6), who are last in the Western Conference and 30th in the NHL with 56 points.

He knows where they were when he arrived in Los Angeles for the 2003-04 season after he was selected No. 13 by the Kings in the 2003 NHL Draft. 

They had won one playoff round since reaching the 1993 Stanley Cup Final and didn't make the playoffs in his first five seasons. But after first-round losses following the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, they won the Stanley Cup in 2012, and did it again in 2014. 

Video: NJD@LAK: Brown nets Kopitar return feed from in front

Like the first rebuild he was a part of, Brown understands that time and patience are required, which are each being preached by the Kings, neither of which Brown has in reserve.

"In the 17 years I've been here it has been awful and the greatest it's ever been," Brown said. "Where we currently are, I've been lower. I've been on teams much worse, maybe not from a record standpoint but from a culture standpoint. I think that's probably the most important thing for me, just trying to maintain that culture, maintain that culture of what good teams are about."

Brown sees only one way back. 

"If we're going to be a good team, we're going to have to find that next group of guys," Brown said last month. "All the players who have won are only getting older."

Todd McLellan, in his first season as Kings coach, wanted to know before the season began that the Kings all-time leader in games played was not only in for another overhaul, but he was in for the long haul.  

Video: EDM@LAK: Brown roofs wrister past Smith on 2-on-1

"We needed to know the players that have run marathons with this team before … that they're prepared to run it again," McLellan said. "We're at the starting line all over again, where [Brown] was in '03-04 when he came into the League. And 1,200 games later and a lot of miles on that body we're looking over at him saying, 'Do you want to do this again?'"

The remaining Kings players who won championships with Brown are forwards Anze Kopitar (32 years old), Jeff Carter (35) and Trevor Lewis (33), defenseman Drew Doughty (30) and goalie Jonathan Quick (34). 

Defenseman Alec Martinez and forward Kyle Clifford, who also won two championships with Brown, were recently traded. So too were forward Tyler Toffoli, defenseman Derek Forbort and goalie Jack Campbell.

The Kings' combined return was one player currently on their active roster -- forward Trevor Moore, seven draft picks, prospect Tyler Madden and forward Tim Schaller, who was sent to Ontario of the American Hockey League.

Brown has two years remaining following this season on the eight-year contract he signed July 18, 2013.

"We became a good team because our players became good players," Brown said. "That's going to be no different for this group. Our younger players have to become really, really good players. It's a process, a slow process." 

Brown is willing to go through it again because he still loves it and feels his value to the Kings is important to their success.

Doughty said Brown has even become one of the Kings best practical jokers and chirpers, a far cry from his personality of a decade ago.

Video: LAK@BUF: Brown hammers home one-timer from Doughty

"Now he actually doesn't really shut up, to be honest," Doughty said, laughing. "When I first came in the League [in 2008] he didn't say anything. He would talk to me one-on-one and stuff like that, but he wasn't as loud as he is now. Now he's chirping guys and having a little bit of fun."

That's Brown's way of relating to the Kings young players, 10 of whom are at least 10 years younger than him. 

"That's the part that's easy for me, connecting with the younger guys, more on a personal, just how are you doing every-day basis and making them laugh every day," Brown said. "The hockey part is a little different because the way the game is played now, the way a lot of these guys are with the puck, they're just better hockey players skill-wise, but there's a lot that goes into an NHL player that doesn't show up in a skills practice."

Experience is what Brown offers. It may be more valuable than any goal he scores or sets up for the rest of his career. 

The Kings need him to help drive home what it takes to climb the mountain. They need him to run the marathon again.

"He's been really good as far as attitude goes, play up and down, but it's hard to maintain a 30-35 goal pace after you've had 1,200 games on your chassis," McLellan said. "But he's an important part of our progress and he will be for a few more years.

"He wants to be a King. He wants to be part of the solution."

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