Hockeywood Hero: Kings Captain Dustin Brown Gives Back

Kings Captain Dustin Brown is a hero and not just because of the hundred plus goals he has scored in his NHL career. Brown as committed to philanthropy as he is to hockey and he doesn’t just sign checks, he gets his hands dirty and puts in the time making a difference.

“In terms of doing charity work, I try to do whatever I can,” said Brown. “Donating money is great, but when you can make a personal impact on someone’s life, that’s probably the best feeling you can have.”

Six year-old Will McLeod of Valley Village is currently in remission after three years of treatment for acute lymphatic leukemia. Dustin Brown is Will’s hero. He even sports a Kings jersey with a Brown’s name on the back, so when the Make a Wish Foundation offered Will a wish he requested to meet Dustin Brown.

Brown escorted Will all around the facilities and even got him out on the ice during a practice with some of his Kings teammates. The time with Brown was a highlight in Will’s difficult life and an act of charity that but scratches the surface on Brown’s philanthropic efforts to date.

Children are at the forefront of many of Brown’s charitable efforts because after his son Mason was born prematurely his eyes were opened to the woes of having sick kids. This season Brown has committed $50 of each of his hits during Kings games to the infant critical care unit at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Modestly Brown admitted that he intended to donate $50 from each of his goals during his rookie year to charity but he finished the year with one goal so he decided to pledge on a per-hit basis instead.

He is a league leader in hits, averaging four per game. On-ice hits have become a part of Brown’s style of playing. It is something Kings Fans have come to expect from him.

Brown partnered with KaBOOM! which is a not-for-profit organization with a mandate of providing every child in America a safe place to play. It was created after two children suffocated while playing in an abandoned car because they had nowhere else to play.

In the 2008-09 season Brown donated $50 for each of his hits to go toward building a playground in his home town of Ithaca, NY and ended up raising more than $35,000.

Brown contributes time as well as money; he recently helped re-build the playground at the Bellflower YMCA in Los Angeles. Brown has even rallied teammates after practice and visited a playground where they put together playground equipment and played with local children.

Most recently his efforts with KaBOOM! helped to rebuild a playground in Carson.

Brown acts as a spokesperson for the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and encouraged fans to support the Kings 4 Kids Night which raised nearly $25,000 for the organization. But his favorite charity is the Adopt-a-Family program, whereby players give gifts to underprivileged families.

He has been recognized on numerous occasions for his efforts: The Southern California Sports Choice Awards named him the Kings “Hometown Hero”, he was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Young Californian title by the California Jaycees Foundation and the California Junior Chamber, and for the past two years Brown has been a finalist for the NHL Foundation Award.

“Early on in your career, you’re really just worried about staying in the NHL,” said Brown. “Now that I’ve been established, you kind of look around and realize, ‘I get to play hockey for a living,’ and there are a lot less-fortunate people out there. I thought it was kind of my responsibility, being in the position I’m in, to try to help other people.”

All the while Brown remains committed to his hockey career. Brown came up through the ranks fast and at age 23 he became the youngest captain in Kings history. Though he is the fifteenth captain he is the first American captain in franchise history.

Brown entered the NHL as a first round pick in the 2003 draft. He played his first game that season against the Detroit Red Wings but was dropped back to the Manchester Monarchs until he found his place on the team as a checking forward.

In the 2006-07 year Brown was placed on the same line as Slovenian scorer Anze Kopitar during Kopitar’s first season with the Kings. This move nearly doubled the amount of points Brown earned moving from 28 points in the 2005-06 season to 49 points in 2006-07 season, but Brown’s breakout season was yet to come.

In the 2007-08 season Brown proved himself and set a personal best that he is yet to beat. He scored 33 goals and 27 assists for an accumulative total of 60 points. He lead the Kings in goals that season and on October 26, 2007 they locked him into another six years in LA, a deal that carried a price tag of $19.05 million and keeps Brown with the Kings until the 2014-15 season.

Nicole Brown, his wife, is in favor of life in Los Angeles.

“You can’t beat being able to take your kids for a walk and to the park in the middle of December,” said Nicole Brown. “We live in Manhattan Beach, and we just love it here. The people are really great, and it has the small-town feel. Nobody really bothers us. Sometimes people recognize my husband, but they just kind of say, ‘Hey,’ and tell him that they are fans and good luck, and move on.”

Brown was named the team captain on October 8, 2008 which was the same year the philanthropist received negative press. While representing the United States at the World Championships for the third time, Brown injured Jussi Jokinen of Finland after the US lost to Finland 3-2. Brown aiming a hit toward Jokinen’s his head. Nonetheless Brown has been invited back to play for the American team in 2009 and 2010.

Brown was also invited to play as assistant captain for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics where they lost out to Team Canada in the final game.

The LA Captain was chosen to play at the 2009 All-Star game in Montreal, Canada.

A NHL veteran at age 26, Brown has no intentions of slowing down. January 2010 he scored his 100th goal while the Kings faced off against SoCal rival the Anaheim Ducks.

Brown keeps giving to his team and his community.