Dustin Brown was a first round pick of the Kings in the 2003 entry draft (11th overall) He recently completed his first NHL season, playing 31 games. The right wing had five points and 16 penalty minutes.
Brown spoke to Hockey’s Future via phone this week.
HF: When did you first start playing hockey?
DB: When I was four years old. I started playing hockey because my brother played hockey. I wanted to do everything he did. So when he started playing hockey, I did too.
HF: How did you make the decision to play in the OHL instead of playing hockey in college?
DB: For development reasons. I thought it was the best thing for me to do hockeywise. I wanted to play at the highest level available to me at the time, and that was juniors. I don’t know if it would have helped me to wait around three years. So we looked at the OHL, actually my agent gave me the idea. He thought that was the best league for me to play in.
HF: Going into the draft you were ranked the No. 2 North American skater by Central Scouting. Were you worried at all when you were still available at No. 13 before the Kings selected you?
DB: Not really. I knew going into the draft, with the depth of the draft I could have gone anywhere from No. 2 – No. 15. I think everyone had a pretty good idea Fleury was going to go No. 1. There were some teams I thought were more interested than others, but I wasn’t really concerned. I prepared myself to be drafted anywhere from 2 to 15.
HF: Did the Kings show a lot of interest before they selected you?
DB: I had three interviews with them. I think they were a little surprised that I was still available. They were definitely one of the more interested teams, they weren’t sure if they were going to get a shot at me or not.
HF: Were you familiar with Brian Boyle and Jeff Tambellini before draft day and did you guys talk about anything on draft day?
DB: I had played against Boyle before. It was the first time I had met Tambellini. It was something all three of us dreamed of. We pretty much talked about being drafted.
HF: How did the Kings prospect camp prepare you for the NHL?
DB: It was very good. The whole idea behind a summer camp is to get to know the system, which was very helpful come training camp. It was good to not have to learn a new system while trying out for a team and having everyone watch you.
HF: What were your first impressions of Los Angeles when you arrived for the prospects camp?
DB: It was weird going to the rink in shorts year around and to be playing hockey where there is concrete. When I first flew in it looked a lot like it did in the movies. I saw palm tree, I could see all of downtown, and the Hollywood sign. It was the first time I had been to LA – playing hockey there was different. It was hard to adjust to after playing hockey in the north my whole life.
HF: What about your first impressions of the Kings organization?
DB: Very professional. They made sure everything was taken care of. When we went to the rookie camp, everything was top notch and everything was set up very well. They really took the time to prepare, even if it was only for the rookie development camp. They had us doing something different everyday on-ice and off-ice. They took us to a couple of baseball games and even a soccer game as well.
HF: When training camp first started, did you expect to make the Kings or were you expecting to go back to juniors?
DB: I felt I had a chance to make the team. I knew it all depended on how well I played. I knew there were spots open and I could have one if I played well enough.
HF: Was there a particular Kings player that took you under his wing and really helped you with the transition to the NHL?
DB: Ian Lapperiere. He was like my big brother. He would pull me aside and tell me something I was doing wrong on ice, and more importantly pull me aside if I was having a tough time off the ice or if something was bothering me. He was always there to help me. He was a VERY big help.
HF: There were some comparisons to Adam Deadmarsh when you were drafted. Did you get a chance to talk to him during the season? Did he give you any tips or advice? Is he the type of player you emulate?
DB: He’s proven to be a pretty good player in the league, so it’s not a bad comparison at all. I spent a lot of time with him since he was injured all year. The advice he would give me every day is “If you play like me you had better keep your head up.” It was kind of a joke between us, which was pretty funny.
HF: Was it tough for you to have limited ice time this season? You started the season on the first and second lines, but were playing on the fourth most of the season, especially after the injuries.
DB: It was like you said at first, I played a lot on the first and second lines at the beginning of the season. I played pretty well, I just didn’t get many points and then my injury took me out the lineup. I was not prepared for that and I looked at it as a learning experience. It gives me something to work towards for next year. I remember by the third game I was playing with Ziggy Palffy and Stumpel, which was a little overwhelming for me at first, but then I dropped down to the fourth line. I think I played pretty well for the remainder of the season. I was still getting 7-10 minutes of ice time, which was less than I normally got in juniors, but I was expecting to play 20-25 minutes a game.
HF: What area of your game do you think translates best to the NHL?
DB: Probably my competitiveness and physical play. In juniors I was more of a skilled player, I would have the puck a lot more. This past year I would dump it and chase it. It was my first year and it was tough to adjust to the speed. I had more confidence playing in juniors than my rookie year in the NHL. I think it’s just a matter of time. My game will probably change a little bit. This past year I was real physical and I felt like I was a real physical force on the ice.
HF: Injuries aside, how did your level of confidence change throughout the season?
DB: I was really confident coming out of training camp. I felt I had a really good camp. My confidence was up and down throughout the season. I felt more confident towards the end of the season coming back from my injury.
HF: How do you view last season from a development standpoint?
DB: Just the year of experience has helped me tremendously both with my physical play and mental preparation. Coming in the first year of juniors and the NHL, I didn’t know what to expect. I know what to expect next season and that’s a big relief for me personally.
HF: Did the Kings coaching staff give you anything to work on in the offseason?
DB: My agility and speed and a little bit of strength. That’s what they told me in the year-end meetings. They wanted to me to work on my quickness.
HF: What can you tell us about your friend Robbie Schremp who is in the draft this year?
DB: He is one of my best friends. He is one of the most skilled players in the draft. There is a lot of stuff surrounding him and people don’t know the real story. I talk to him about once a week. We grew up playing against each other and ended up playing our last year of bantum together. I know him pretty well. We have the same agent, so I see him a lot. He’s super skilled, he brings his game to the table every night, which you’ve got to respect. He may be cocky but he always seems to back it up.
HF: Can we expect to see you back at prospects camp this year?
DB: Yes, I am going to be back there again for the rookie summer development camp.