Here’s the second half of the long interview with new team captain Dustin Brown…
Question: You talking to the prospects at the development camp, how did that come about?
BROWN: “I’m not sure whose idea it was. Jamie (Kompon) asked me to do it and I had no problem doing it. The second group that I talked to was Teddy (Purcell) and (Brian) Boyle and a lot of guys I know already, so it was much different. The first one was more of a Q&A with me and Jamie. I thought it was really good, because if anybody could relate to what they were going through, it was probably me. I walked their path five years ago or four years ago, so I’ve been through it and I know what it takes, I guess. It’s still a recent memory. We talked about things that I wish I had done and things I wish I hadn’t. It was a different situation when I was coming up. If there was a player to talk to me, it would have been a lot more meaningful.”
Question: In what way?
BROWN: “I remember my development camp, and you meet the coaches but you didn’t see any (veteran) players. I remember my first time coming into main training camp, I didn’t know anybody. I just didn’t know a face at that level, whether it was to talk or whatever. If someone had told me, `Oh, this is what you need to do’… Coming in, you don’t know. Junior hockey, even college, there’s stuff in junior hockey that’s similar to here, but you just don’t know how everything works. If you don’t have to worry about that stuff in training camp, it makes it a lot easier. I hope I helped them, because like I said, it would have been a big help to me, just to have someone come in and say, `This is what you need to do, this is what you should be doing, this is what you shouldn’t do.”’
Question: That first year, especially, was there really anyone you could go to?
BROWN: “I would say Lappy. Lappy was the one guy that kind of, one, helped me out with everyday little things and also helped me with the social aspect of teammates and making me feel like I was a part of the team. Especially back then with the injured guys. Personally, I didn’t like the setup. It was, be in and out of the locker room before any of the other teammates were there. There were times when I went weeks without seeing guys. Lappy would look out for me. He was a big help.”
Question: You alluded to things you might have done differently. Anything particular?
BROWN: “Two things, I think, and they kind of go hand in hand. One is being more social, and just coming out of my shell earlier, I guess. Two, I was the last guy into the rink and the first guy out, because it was uncomfortable for me. So obviously if I was a little more social and got to know the guys a little bit better, maybe it would have been a better experience for me in that aspect. In turn, maybe I would have been working out a little more at the rink. There’s stuff I could have done to make myself a better player that…it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, but I just didn’t know how to. Just off-ice training and getting ready for the game. In junior, it’s different. You go to the rink and throw your skates on and play.”
Question: The fact that things got better, was it a product of the team getting younger? You getting older? Personalities on the team?
BROWN: “I think it was a mixture of everything. I remember, I think it was at the end of the year Andy (Murray) got fired. I thought I was playing really well and I asked for a meeting with him. We weren’t doing very well and there was a weird dynamic to the team because there were a lot of older guys like (Jeremy Roenick) and Luc, and then there was me, kind of pushing through. The way the dynamic of the team was, unless I was a (Anze Kopitar), they didn’t want to give me that ice time that maybe I deserved. There was maybe…not tension, but a little friction, I guess. Not between me and Andy, or me and other players, but with how the situation was, I felt I should have been playing a little bit more. The way the dynamics of the team were, it was not really available, even if I maybe deserved it. That kind of all changed when Crow came in and went in that younger direction. He put a little more responsibility on the shoulders of the younger players and gave them an opportunity.”
Question: Did you meet your wife here, or did you know her before?
BROWN: “No, we’ve been together a while, about eight years now. She’s from my hometown. We grew up in the same town and we kind of knew each other but we never really hung out or were friends, and then it just happened.”
Question: And how long has she been out in L.A.?
BROWN: “She was out here my first year, for the second half of the year, and then since then she’s been with me wherever I go.”
Question: That had to help too, I imagine.
BROWN: “Yeah, that was part of the dynamics of my first year. It was tough, because she was out here but she didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know anybody. As tough as it was for me socially, at least I could go into the room and talk to the guys. For her, it was twice as bad, because it’s not mandatory that the wives coexist. So she didn’t know anybody, so that put…not a strain, but maybe a pressure or some tension there, because I would come home from the rink and want to relax and she had been home all day, so she would want to go out and do stuff. Now it’s completely different, because she has more friends, probably, away from the rink now than she does wife friends. She’s really good friends with most of the wives. Her and Shannon are going to do the whole Wives Club thing this year, so it’s completely different. I guess that’s how it works. You just start meeting people, and we live here full-time here now, which is a big help.”
Question: And how’s fatherhood treating you?
BROWN: “It’s awesome. It’s life-changing but it’s great.”
Question: And you’ve got another one on the way?
BROWN: “Yeah, April. It’s awesome. I wasn’t sure if I was ready, but when he was born it was awesome, and now it’s even more fun. The first couple months are not really a lot of fun, but now he’s starting to have a personality and it’s awesome.”
Question: It’s kind of a cliche question, but you get married and have a child, and you start becoming more of a team leader. Do you see any parallels there?
BROWN: “You know, having my son definitely changed the way I look at things. I can’t give you a specific example, but if there’s something that happens on the ice, I would have looked at it completely different before I had my kid, as opposed to after. That’s a positive, and I think it has definitely helped me be more comfortable in that leadership role, just knowing that as long as you’re doing it for the right reasons and your heart is in the right spot, everything will work out. That’s maybe not a perspective I had before my kid, because as parents always say, `You’ll never know until you have a kid.’ It’s kind of like the same thing. It just changes my perspective on certain things.”
Question: Is there anything tangible, either on the ice in the locker room, in which you can feel that you have that respect now?
BROWN: “It’s just more of a feeling, I think. Last year, me and Thorty sat next to each other all year. He was pushing me to be more vocal. He said, `You play harder than anybody, but you need to be more vocal.’ I said, `I don’t think everyone in this room really respects what I do yet.’ He was like, `Well, you have my respect.’ He was an assistant captain and a big part of the leadership, and that really helped me. We had conversations about it a lot, and he played a big part in making me more comfortable. It’s not always the case, but sometimes when you’re looked to to handle the responsibility of trying to win games, you get more comfortable in leading that way. Last year was kind of a transition for a few guys, where we were very dependent on us playing well.”
Question: It’s kind of hard to just, all of a sudden, become a vocal person, isn’t it?
BROWN: “Yeah. I mean, if there’s something that needs to be said, I have no problem saying it now. The problem with being overly vocal is that it kind of loses its sense of meaning when you do speak. That’s kind of how I feel about it. There are those guys like (Derek Armstrong), who is a vocal guy, and that’s what he brings to the team. Everyone looks to him and knows that he’s a rah-rah guy. And that’s perfectly fine, because that’s who Army is. For me personally, if I’m talking all the time, it might lose its meaning. I’m one of those guys who, if something needs to be said, I’ll say it, but otherwise, just watch how I play. If you play the way I play, I’ll be happy.”
Question: Big strides on the ice for you last year, obviously. Is the challenge now to maintain that, or even to take it to another level?
BROWN: “Obviously, I have improved my stats every year and I’m going to try to do the same this year. I’ve had this question a few times, and I don’t go into the year looking at numbers, especially with my type of game. For me, it’s not really about my numbers, because there are a lot of things I try to do that maybe don’t result in a goal or an assist. It’s little things, like with Kopi. If I can screen the goalie well enough, he can just float one in on net. You know what I mean? So obviously it’s a challenge to improve your numbers every year in this league, and I’m going to try to do that every year, but like I said, I don’t go into every year thinking that I need to have 35 goals and 40 assists. I’m going to try the best I can to help this team. If that means I only score 25 goals and sit in front of the goalie for 15 of Kopi’s, that’s fine.”