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A Pure Captain, Dustin Brown Set To Be Enshrined In The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame

By Steve Drumwright, 12/01/23, 9:00AM MST


Brown played all 18 seasons of his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings, helping them win two Stanley Cups.

Having a lengthy and productive career in sports is quite an accomplishment. Being able to do it all with a single team has become a rarity, as trades and free agency usually take a player to another franchise.

But not Dustin Brown. No, the Ithaca, New York, native made himself into one of the NHL’s top leaders on the West Coast in the bright lights of Los Angeles, a place where he has been immortalized.

“He really sort of embraced the idea of being a King,” said Kevin Allen, Hall of Fame reporter, who covered the NHL for USA Today for 34 years before leaving in 2019. “It seemed like he was born to be a King. I mean, I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say. But once he was there, you associated him with the Kings. He was a popular guy with fans. Fans understood in L.A. how valuable he was.”

Brown retired from the Kings following the 2021-22 season, his 18th as a right wing in the NHL after being the 13th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He tallied 712 points in 1,296 games, captained the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in 2012 and repeated the feat in 2014. Brown was also a two-time Olympian, winning a silver medal in 2010 with the U.S. 

Brown’s leadership and instincts made him a player every team coveted. For those reasons, it is easy to see why Brown will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Dec. 6 in Boston. Joining Brown in the 2023 class are Brian Burke, Katie King Crowley, Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Murphy. Joe Bertagna, the 2023 Lester Patrick Trophy winner, will also be honored.

“He’s kind of a throwback, an old-school type player,” said Allen, the 2013 Lester Patrick Award recipient. “In today’s NHL, you see a lot of the captains are the top offensive player on the team. Dustin Brown was a gifted offensive player, but he wasn’t Auston Matthews, he’s not Sidney Crosby, and yet he’s treated like he was because his personality was inspirational and I think people take into account that he’s a natural born leader as well.”

While Crosby and Matthews may someday have statues outside of the arenas in Pittsburgh and Toronto, Brown already has one outside of the Kings’ home in downtown LA, joining Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille.

That’s how much his leadership meant to the Kings. Brown became the second American-born captain to win a Stanley Cup, following DerianHatcher in 1999 with the Dallas Stars. Following the 2013-14 season, Brown won the Mark Messier Leadership Award.

Allen said the best trait Brown had as a captain was leading by example.

“He did the dirty jobs that are necessary in order to be a winning team and when people would see Dustin sort of carrying the flag, his teammates would move in and do the same thing,” he said. “That was his effectiveness, being able and willing to do those things, to block shots, to do the things that are hard to do and then others didn’t want to let him down.”

On top of his selfless play, Brown was easy to get along with as a teammate. 

“He’s a very likable guy too and that’s important within a dressing room,” Allen said. “Even when he was young, it was evident that he was captain material.”

Brown was a consistent contributor offensively and had five straight 20-goal, 50-point seasons from 2007–08 to 2011–12. He was always ready for the big moment as well, as Brown led the NHL in goals and assists in the 2012 playoffs. 

“It’s kind of fun for me as someone who has covered the league for a long time to see an all-around player getting rewarded,” Allen said. “What has made him extraordinary is the fact that he did everything so well and his leadership — how many goals was that worth? The coaches would argue that was more valuable and his leadership was on par with a 50-goal scorer.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Class of 2023

Past Inductees