Never one to shy away from the media, Kings captain Dustin Brown met with a small group gathered at the team’s training facility in El Segundo earlier today. Following his club missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009, there was obvious disappointment and many in management, as well as inside the locker room, are still trying to piece together exactly what went wrong over the past eight months. More importantly, all involved have already begun working on solutions to improve things moving forward.
On a personal note, Brown posted only 11 goals this season, a personal low when playing a full 82-game season. Some of that comes down to a chicken-or-egg debate after coach Darryl Sutter often slotted him in a bottom-6 role, rather than alongside Anze Kopitar, who he co-lead the team with in goals and points during the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Below are the highlights shared by Brown…
On what was it like waking up Sunday morning and realizing everything was over?
“It was just an awkward feeling for this group…weird waking up and having nothing to do. It’s not a situation you want to be in but to try to take a positive out of anything it gives us just a lot of time to get better.”
On if he has any injuries or issues at the moment:
“Just general stuff, little normal stuff that I have every year…shoulders and hips and just the aches and getting through it. Nothing serious. “
On the balance looking at the big picture and realizing the team didn’t make the playoffs, and if the Kings going 3-15 when games went longer than 60 minutes this season is perhaps just bad luck:
“You try to look at it objectively. There are areas of our game that we need to get better. Individually, I need to be better. But at the same time you don’t want to sit here and say this team’s no good anymore because we look at our group of guys and and what we’ve done over the last three, four years—we’ve done a lot of really good things. I don’t think anybody in there said or was thinking we had a good year or we did what we wanted to do, but we weren’t very far off from getting where we want to be and giving ourselves a chance. Again, you have to look at it objectively and try to get better and find ways—that’s the difference nowadays, those little tiny areas you can get better can make a big difference. We’ve got to stay the course. We have a good group. That’s been the biggest advantage we’ve had. Our group together is a good group and you don’t want to mess with it too much. “
On what specific areas he would like help fix and how that might happen:
“One thing is, when you lose, it’s a reality check. We’ve been very successful the last three years. You try to take a positive out of this. It might be a wake-up call for us. We’ve had those stretches in the middle of the year when we weren’t very good. You can talk about our overtime record…whatever you want to talk about. Those were games that ended up costing us down the stretch. You don’t lose your season against Calgary. It was all the games before that. There are a lot of things. Taking the time now to figure those out and being aware of them going forward.“
On Montreal players previously saying they hated their coach every day of the year except for the day they got their Stanley Cup ring, and if that could apply to Darryl Sutter:
“I think he’s demanding. I think he’s pretty honest for the most part. Players and coaches are going to disagree from time to time. It’s kind of the nature, if you’re always agreeing or just always saying okay, then you’re probably not winning. The thing with Darryl is he pushes us, but he also allows us to push back and that’s what ultimately creates a winning environment. Prior to Darryl, quite honestly, it was… Like I said, he’s demanding but in return, we become more demanding of each other. There are disagreements that happen. That’s the nature of being competitive, but it’s done us good so far.”
On if the Tampa situation was a bit of a push back:
“I think it’s been blown out of proportion, but at the end of the day, it’s about the 20 guys in the room. It’s been really blown out of proportion, quite honestly. It wasn’t even that big of a deal when it happened. It was just us being a group of guys going through it together and sometimes that’s what you need.”
On Lombardi’s saying he was okay with what happened, and that he wants guys to take control of the room:
“I haven’t seen his comments, but I’ve had conversations with Dean, not particular to that, but particular about us taking control of the room, and those are conversations I’ve had with him for four or five years prior to Darryl being here, with [Terry Murray] here…Ultimately you get to that point where the players own the room and that’s ultimately what I think he wants. We’ve had this group here that is just part of the process if you’re a competitive winning team. It’s a two way street, having that push back.”
On if that sort of thing happens often during the season:
“Quite a bit, but I also think this little locker room thing has been blown completely out of proportion. It happens all the time. It’s not always player-coach. Sometimes it’s player and players and it comes back to demanding more of each other and sometimes you don’t necessarily want to hear it but it’s something that needs to be said and vice versa. There are moments on the bench and in the room after games where players have it out. At the end of the day, it’s probably healthy because keeping it in and you’re having problems. We have a good group and are pretty open and honest with each other. We can get on each other and then go have a beer and be fine. [Reporter: It’s like brothers.] Yes. It happens a lot behind the closed doors and it happens for a reason. It’s not because one guy doesn’t like another.”
On everybody waiting for the Kings to flip their switch in the second half of the season, and if it was just tougher to do this time around:
“To put it on one thing is unfair to everyone. Middle part of the season games that we didn’t play every well in December and January. Everyone talks about our shootout, we take a third, we’re home ice…look at our third period leads? I don’t know what the stat is. We’ve blown more in this year than we have in the previous four? Point that up and it’s an 82 game schedule, so you have to keep pace throughout and a lot of people forget we missed the playoffs by a few points, but we also…just to miss the playoffs by a few points, we had to win 8 in a row, after we played in December and January. I think that’s our third longest win streak in team history. Eight games in a row…if we don’t win 8 games, we were done with two weeks left to go. It’s a fine line.”
On the possibility of playing in the IIHF World Championships:
“For me, I think I probably wouldn’t go, and I’ve played in that tournament quite a bit. It’s actually a fun tournament to play in, especially if you go to a city like Prague. It’s a nice city, but for me, with the amount of hockey…we play it as a group. For me personally playing in the Olympics…it’s one of those things you don’t want to be doing in April, but this is the first time in three, four years that I’ve an opportunity to use the summertime to make strides as opposed to getting back to square one.”
What do Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Darryl Sutter think about the possibility of Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams not returning to the Kings for next season? They break it all down here. Also, we have a lot of interesting comments from Dean Lombardi at yesterday’s end-of-season media session posted here.
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