To think, the Los Angeles Kings came this close to trading Dustin Brown a few years ago.
Things were not going great and somebody had to pay the price. Might as well be the captain.
Fortunately, the Kings had a change of heart and now Brown and his teammates are on the verge of winning their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
"Browny is a great leader; a great captain," said teammate Drew Doughty. "He does a lot of things both on and off the ice; especially on the ice. He works as hard as possible and really cares a lot. The opponents don't like playing against him because he hits so hard and at the same time he can make plays and score goals.
"When I played against him at the Olympics, basically whenever I had the puck, he was on the ice. I was trying to get rid of it so he wouldn't run me. Yeah, great captain...great leader."
Wayne Gretzky on Kopitar
The Great One raised a few eyebrows Saturday night when he proclaimed on Hockey Night in Canada's pregame show centre Anze Kopitar is the third best player in the NHL behind Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks. There are those who would suggest Kopitar isn't even the best player on his team; opting for defenceman Drew Doughty instead.
Who the heck is going to argue with The Great One? Not me.
"Anze Kopitar is the key guy," Gretzky insisted. "He plays against the best players; he takes faceoffs; they utilize him in the last minute of the hockey game. Whether they are up or down a goal he is going to be the guy out there to kill a five-on-three. He is a young man who just gets better every year and I can't say enough good things about what he has done with his career especially in these playoffs. He went 10 games in a row with a point in every game against two really good hockey clubs; San Jose and Anaheim.
"To me that is something we need to recognize. He plays hard every game and he plays properly. The two best players who never cheated the game that I saw play were Mark Messier and Bryan Trottier. By that I mean they never circled; never turned away. They stopped and started. To me that is how Anze plays. He plays with a great deal of passion and to me he is the leader of that hockey club game in and game out."
The hat trick
With one more victory Kings centre Justin Williams will be a three-time Stanley Cup champion. He won his first Cup in 2005-06 with the Carolina Hurricanes and was a valuable member of the Kings Cup championship team two years ago.
Williams doesn't think there is anything special about him or his game.
"I'm a player who is just another piece of the puzzle," Williams said. "Throughout my career I don't do anything flashy out there. I'm not the fastest skater. I don't have the greatest shot. I just try and do the best I can out there with what I have. I feel my smarts and instincts have gotten me to where I am...and my competitiveness."
With eight goals and 24 points in 24 games, Williams is tied for second in playoff scoring with teammate Jeff Carter - they each trail Kopitar by two points - and he is now a leading contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
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