Kings’ Dustin Brown, penalty-drawing machine, to retire after season

Kings' Dustin Brown, penalty-drawing machine, to retire after season
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Longtime Los Angeles Kings forward (and sometimes-captain) Dustin Brown announced that he’ll retire at the end of this season.

Kings fans don’t need to wave goodbye right away, mind you. Brown and the Kings are locked into a first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers, and perhaps this team and its former captain have one more big run in them?

Of course, a short run wouldn’t diminish an outstanding Kings career for Dustin Brown.

Brown, 37, was a major contributor to two Kings Stanley Cup victories, and ranks among the franchise leaders in several significant categories:

Really, if Dustin Brown wanted to, he could probably keep his NHL career going.

A $5.875M cap hit expires after this season, so any talk (sometimes unfair) about Brown’s contract being a problem for the Kings would’ve been pushed to the side. By one measure (The Athletic’s Player Cards), Brown brought about $3.5M in “market value” to the Kings this season.

Not bad, especially for a player who accrued honestly pretty staggering mileage, all with the same team.

Maybe that “same team” factor was the sticking point. After averaging 17:37 time on ice last season, Brown only averaged 14:41 per game with the Kings in 2021-22. There’s a place for a player like that, but this rising, largely young team wasn’t going to make minutes easy to come by.

Really, though, it probably boils down to all the wear and tear over (incredibly) 18 NHL seasons.

Dustin Brown retires after being a consistent performer for the Kings

No doubt, you’ll hear about the numbers Brown put up, particularly during his more dominant moments.

Brown set a career-high for goals with 33 in 2007-08, and reached a peak of 61 points in 2017-18. Most of all, he was reliable: Brown authored seven 20+ goal seasons, and you could probably look at 2020-21 as an eighth one (17 goals in just 49 games). Brown reached 50+ points seven times, including two 60+ point seasons.

On the way to two Stanley Cup victories, Brown appeared in 85 playoff games, collecting 47 points. (His most impressive playoff run came during the Kings’ first Stanley Cup win, when Brown collected 20 points in as many playoff games.)

From 2008-09 to 2015-16, Brown served as Kings captain, eventually giving way to Anze Kopitar.

Brown was a hitting, shooting, penalty-drawing machine

To many, it’s Dustin Brown’s physicality that sticks out the most, though.

Sometimes, that edge led to suspensions, and debates about other suspensions. Either way, Brown was a player opponents needed to monitor. From 2007-08 to this writing, Hockey Reference credits Brown with 3,185 hits.

(As bruising as Brown’s style was, maybe he stayed healthy because he didn’t block many shots? During that same span, he was only credited with 331 blocked shots, and never more than 33 in any season from 2007-08 to 2021-22.)

Personally, I’ll remember Dustin Brown for his uncanny ability to draw penalties.

Since 2009-10, Dustin Brown drew 423 penalties and took a mere 207. Over that same frame, Anze Kopitar ranks a distant second on the Kings with 268 drawn (versus 119 taken). Brown easily leads the NHL overall with those 423 penalties drawn, with Nazem Kadri ranked second at 385.

Among players who’ve appeared in at least 300 games since 2009-10, Dustin Brown ranks sixth in “net penalties taken per 60” with .76. Few players beyond Connor McDavid, Johnny Gaudreau, and Jeff Skinner consistently drew more penalties than they took quite like Brown, even when you dilute things a bit as he slowed toward the end of his career.

Looking at Natural Stat Trick, Brown drew 83 penalties (vs. 24 total penalties) in 2008-09 and drew 76 (vs. 19 total penalties) in 2009-10.

Just … remarkable stuff. When you think about players who were “tough to play against” in ways that actually functionally benefitted their teams, few fit the bill quite like Brown did for the Kings.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.