Here’s what Dustin Brown had to say today about the Kings’ needs and his thoughts about where they’re headed. It’s been an interesting year for Brown. From a media perspective, he has become a lot more forceful and outgoing, in a positive way, and I’m sure that has a lot to do with the “C” on his jersey. That letter carries weight and responsibility, and from a media standpoint, Brown has fulfilled those responsibilities. He’s always visible and available to talk, which I can’t say about all recent Kings captains.
Brown also said that his plans for the World Championships were uncertain, because he needs to get his back checked out. He estimated that he’s been playing with some back pain for roughly three months. Frolov, as I should have noted earlier, said he will play for Russia. Anyway, here are Brown’s thoughts from today…
Question: If Dean Lombardi comes to you and asks you what this team needs in order to improve, what do you tell him?
BROWN: “From a personnel standpoint right now, what sticks out in my mind is left wing. I’m playing left wing, and I have no problem playing left wing, but I think Terry prefers me on right wing. I’ve played the last 15 games or so on the left, and it has definitely taken some time to get adjusted to. We also had Zeus (Michal Handzus) playing left wing, and he’s a natural center. He’s been one of our better centers this year and he’s great on faceoffs. He was playing left wing for five or six games. We got rid of Cammy (Michael Cammalleri) last year, and with Sully (Patrick O’Sullivan) getting dealt at the deadline this year, it feels like, from a personnel standpoint or a positional standpoint, it’s left wing.”
Question: That question is not meant as disrespect to anyone in the room, of course…
BROWN: “No, not at all. But when you look at our lineup, Fro (Alexander Frolov) plays left wing, but I would prefer the right side and I think Zeus would prefer to play center obviously. We were putting one of our best faceoff men on the wing, so that obviously shows a need.”
Question: Do you get the sense that if a big scorer arrived, the team would feel a bit like, “OK, now we’ve got what we need”?
BROWN: “I think it’s a mixture of that and, at the same time, having our team come together. What we did this year was a step in the right direction, but you look at our team and I think we can still get a lot more from everyone in the room. We had Dewey (Drew Doughty) and Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) and Oscar (Moller) come in and they played well, but I think everyone else’s point production was down. Not that it’s all about points, but it was a transition period with new systems and obviously we made a real good push on defense and the PK. The closer we get together, the more we’ll push and the more we’ll get from everyone, myself included, plus Kopi and Fro, those top guys. I still think we have room to grow.”
Question: Expectations, at least from outside the organization, weren’t high this season. Not many people expected you to make the playoffs. I get the impression that next season will be different, that the Kings will be looked at as a team ready, if not expected, to take that next step. Is that your expectation as well?
BROWN: “That was our feeling this year. You look at the core group here, and we’re all growing together. We’ve all been here for at least a couple years, and we added Stolly (Jarret Stoll) and Greener (Matt Greene) to that mix, and Zeus, and now we have OD (Sean O’Donnell) locked up for another year. We have a pretty good group of guys, and I think this summer will be important. We’re trying to grow together, and we’re going to try to get some guys in here on a consistent basis to work out and be together. That’s the most important thing, for the team aspect. This year was an exciting year for everybody, but at the same time, disappointing. Terry came in, in his first year, and he’s getting to know everyone and we’re getting to know him, and there were new faces that are going to be a part of this team for years to come. So it’s just a matter of becoming a close-knit group.”