Before the playoffs began, I volunteered to cover the St. Louis Blues-Los Angeles Kings match-up in the opening round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. My reason for picking this series was simple: our son and I follow Dustin Brown’s career pretty closely, since he is actually a friend of the family. (One of my wife’s cousins was literally in Dustin Brown’s wedding, and his mother was able to get Dustin to sign a puck for my kid when he brought the Stanley Cup to Ithaca, New York, last summer.) I also just happen to work with a woman who is an aunt of Dustin Brown’s wife.
If you haven’t figured out by now which member of the LA Kings I would love to see play for the Buffalo Sabres . . . well, I’m just going to have to ask you to leave.
Dustin Brown, Forward
I hear some of you calling me out – “You said your wish list would be made up of players who were actually attainable!” Well, in case you haven’t noticed, very few players in the NHL are what I would consider unattainable. Absolute elite players on franchises that would crumble without them are unattainable; very good players who can no longer be afforded, and who can be replaced, are attainable.
Dustin Brown is NOT the most talented player on the LA Kings. That distinction goes to Anze Kopitar, who led the Kings in scoring this year (42 points) and is arguably one of the top-ten centers in the NHL right now. Brown is also not the leading goal-scorer on his team; that honor goes to Jeff Carter, who has netted 26 (although Brown is second on the team with 18).
What Brown IS the best at on his team is doing whatever, and this is one of those times when I truly mean whatever, it takes to help his team win. Brown started his career with the LA Kings playing on a checking line, and wound up leading his team in hits with 175, despite the fact that he wasn’t receiving heavy playing time. His offense went from being fourth-line quality to hovering around 60 points per year, which is fantastic considering he could have remained gainfully employed in the NHL playing the sort of game that Patrick Kaleta keeps getting paid to produce. His hard-nosed play, inspiring work-ethic, and willingness to improve all areas of his game in order to give his team ts best chances of winning are what earned him the title of captain right after the start of the 2008-200 season, making him the youngest player in team history to earn that title.
Another reason I’d love to see Brown wearing blue and gold is that he couples being so intense during a game that he’d fight his own grand-mama if she were lacing up skates for the opposition with being one of the nicest, down-to-earth guys you could ever meet when he is off of the ice. By all accounts, he’s the guy you want representing your team out in the community, showing up at charity events and speaking to youth hockey players about the sport. It’s hard to believe that the guy who routinely ranks toward the top of the NHL in hits per season is the same guy my father-in-law ran into in Wegmans, pushing the Stanley Cup down the aisles in a shopping cart as he used it to pick up groceries! True stories – we have the pictures to prove it. Fans of the Buffalo Sabres who were never satisfied with having Jason Pominville wear the “C” could not find a player in the NHL who is more deserving of being the leader, in and out of the clubhouse, of the Sabres than Dustin Brown.
And let’s not forget: he makes hits like this, which would be so much fun to watch at the First Niagara Center:
Human wrecking ball + guy who can score = get him on the team, stat. Sure, there’s little chance of that happening right now – but it’s my wish list, and I dare to dream of a day that I can see Dustin Brown on the Buffalo Sabres.