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Side doesn’t matter to Kings forward Dustin Brown

Side doesn’t matter to Kings forward Dustin Brown

LOS ANGELES — Kings interim coach Willie Desjardins thinks a lot of veteran forward Dustin Brown, so he didn’t hesitate when he decided to switch Brown from right wing to left wing, paving the way for Tyler Toffoli to join the top line, which is centered by Anze Kopitar.

Desjardins sang Brown’s praises after the Thursday morning skate ahead of the team’s game against St. Louis at Staples Center.

“He’s got a great heart and a great mind,” Desjardins of Brown, who is in his 15th season, all with the Kings. “Those two things carry you a long way. He understands the game, he puts himself in the right positions.”

At 34, Brown had played in 1,101 games for the Kings before Thursday, putting him just 10 behind all-time franchise leader Dave Taylor. Brown might not say so, but that means he’s probably got more aches and pains than anyone else on the roster.

“Like, every game, he’s beat up,” Desjardins said. “That makes it tough for him. But he just finds a way.”

Desjardins briefly had Toffoli on the top line with Kopitar and Brown in early January, and then put Toffoli there again for the team’s game against Dallas on Feb. 28. Toffoli is still there, and Brown likes what Toffoli could bring to the fold.

“When he’s on his game, he’s really good on the wall, which I think when you have two good wingers on the wall you’re generally going to get the puck to the middle.”

That person in the middle is Kopitar, and Brown suggested that if you want to get the puck to anyone on the team, there is no one better than Kopitar.

Brown said switching to the left side opens opportunities for him offensively, and since he has played the left in the past, he said the transition has been relatively easy.

“For the most part,” he said. “The first game or maybe a game and a half, your routes on the ice are maybe not where they need to be just because of muscle memory. … I mean, the plays are definitely harder for me coming out of the zone.

“But if you get it out of the zone, the plays going into the offensive zone are much … there are many more options playing your off-side coming in.”

Always a team player, Brown said side doesn’t matter.

“No, I just have to do certain things different on the left side, especially on the wall,” he said. “Receiving passes, getting my feet – depending on the type of pressure we’re getting that night.”

He likes playing on the left, but …

“It (stinks) when you’re playing the off-side when you have a really aggressive, pinching defenseman,” Brown said. “Then you don’t have a lot of time and it’s just hard.”

Brown has 16 goals and 22 assists in 56 games this season after missing the first 10 games with a broken finger. If Brown didn’t have the ability to play on the left, there would not be a spot for Toffoli on the top line.

“Yeah, that’s why we made the move,” Desjardins said. “That’s the only way we would have made it.”

Toffoli, 26, has 12 goals and 16 assists.


Second-year forward Alex Iafallo was playing left wing on the top line and has spent 62.1 percent of the season there. He has also spent time on the second line, as well as more recently, the third line centered by Adrian Kempe with Jonny Brodzinski on the right.

Desjardins said Iafallo, 25, should not view any of the moves as demotions.

“No, not at all,” Desjardins said. “If you look at minutes (in Tuesday’s loss to Montreal), his minutes were pretty good.”

Iafallo, who has 14 goals and 14 assists, averages 16:54 of time on ice this season. He played 16:15 against the Canadiens.


The Kings, all but out of postseason contention, will embark on a brief two-game trip with games Saturday at Arizona and Sunday against the Ducks in Anaheim. They return for a five-game homestand that begins next Thursday against Nashville.

The other four games will be against Florida on March 16, Winnipeg on March 18, San Jose on March 21 and the Ducks on March 23.

Press Enterprise