On April 28th, 2022, the end of an era in Los Angeles was announced. Dustin Brown, former LA Kings captain, two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic Silver Medalist, and all-around winner of the best toothless smile in hockey, said he would retire at the conclusion of the Kings’ postseason run.

Drafted 13th overall in 2003, a member of the greatest draft class of all time, Brown would make an impact on the roster almost immediately. He made the team out of training camp and only had to wait about a month to pot his first goal. From there, everything was up for the young winger as he continued to play in all situations, accumulating huge amounts of penalty killing time and putting up 139 points in his first four years in Los Angeles. Before the 2008-09 season, Brown was named captain of the team. At the time, coach Terry Murray said of his new captain that he “shows that he cares tremendously about this team, about winning every night. I just want him to follow through with that…”

Follow through, Brown did. As Captain, he drove the Kings into the postseason a season later, eventually leading to the 2011-12 Stanley Cup. Twenty points and 16 wins later, Dustin Brown did the impossible: he shook hands with Gary Bettman, wrangled the cup away from him, and lifted that glorious prize to the rafters to one of the most tremendous cheers, then named Staples Center had ever heard. He would lead his team on a historic post-season run to another Stanley Cup two years later. In Game 7 of the Conference Final against Chicago, Brown’s leadership was on display as he could be heard shouting “North only. We go that way” to get his team back on the horse after a goal against.

As the Cup era in Los Angeles wound down and Brown was asked to step down from the captaincy, the veteran has been the leader the young Kings team has needed and done it the same way he always has, quietly. Brown has quietly scored 93 goals and 206 points in the last five seasons, helping the team not fade into obscurity even in the most challenging years of this rebuild.

During the 2021-22 season, Brown has been the third-line winger who guides his young centers and sets them up for success. He has been everything any Los Angeles Kings fan or player could have hoped for and then some. Brown finishes his regular-season career as the games played leader for the Kings with 1,295 games. He has 325 goals and 387 assists, totaling 712 points, good for seventh place on the Kings’ all-time list.

There was a time when some writers had said that the Vegas Golden Knights should pick Brown in the expansion draft. The Kings faithful are happy they didn’t. As we enter the final act of the Dustin Brown era, the City of Los Angeles, The LA Kings organization, and anyone else will express their outpouring of love for the man that led the franchise to glory.

The man who put everything on the line every night for the last 18 years. The man who gave a city that longed-for glory its shot at the promised land and delivered not once but twice. This is a bittersweet moment that would eventually become a reality. For LA Kings fans, this should be a moment of celebration as the die-hard fan base of the city rallies to try, one more time, to snap a picture of the toothless superman smiling underneath the brilliant light cast upon him by the holiest of grails.

On behalf of every Los Angeles Kings fan, we want to say “thank you” for everything to number 23, a King whose throne will rest in the pantheon of the greats.

(Main photo credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)