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Dustin Brown Caps a Tumultuous Few Days for the Kings

This is what the Kings and Kings' fans hope to see a lot at the STAPLES Center this season. (LAist/Jimmy Bramlett)
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Can the threat of being shipped away to an irrelevant hockey team force an entire team to do a quick 180 turning their once laughable offense into something that resembles something respectable? That is apparently what happened to the Kings as they trounced the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 with rumors of their Captain Dustin Brown and his hat trick being used as trade bait continued to make headlines on Twitter.

The Kings were spiraling down the drain over the last week: back-to-back 1-0 losses at home coupled with an absolute choke job in Phoenix turning a 3-0 first period lead into a 5-4 shootout loss. Then the cherry on top of the disappointment: a 4-1 embarrassment at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche that was broadcast to a national audience on NBC Sports Network, well national inasmuch as the former Versus channel is a national sports network.

Finally Kings’ General Manager Dean Lombardi took action and traded defenseman Jack Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for center Jeff Carter late Thursday afternoon. No one saw this move as the solution to all of the Kings’ problems, and even while reporters were on a conference call with Lombardi early Thursday evening rumors of Captain Dustin Brown and backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier were running wild.

“Jeff Carter is not going to come in and be the cavalry,” Lombardi said in that conference call. “We have a lot of guys that still have to perform at a higher level, grow into becoming winners and get some other players back to their identity in doing what they do well.”

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Athletes never give the public what we want in real explanations instead filling our recorders and notebooks with useless sports cliché drivel containing abhorrent clauses such as, “At the end of the day,” and, “It is what it is.” Even typing those clauses caused a shudder to run down my spine. Nothing we ask them will likely be vulnerable enough to show any insight to their psyche without requiring a couch.

That’s why Brown’s hat trick seemed to resound loudly in the sold-out STAPLES Center. A guy who had scored one goal in his last 13 games comes through when his team is in dire straits. And just to add to the incredulousness of the event was the fact the first two goals came on the Kings awful power-play and the capper a short-handed goal early in the second period. There was no artistry or flair for the dramatic with this hat trick, not that anyone in the building was complaining.

Brown didn’t exactly as say that it was a statement game for him. “I’ve been a King my whole career, and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days,” Brown said. “For me personally, with all the rumors flying around it’s my responsibility to prepare myself to be the best I can. Tonight I felt good.”

Perhaps all of this uncertainty motivated the other guys with even the guy who is all but assured of remaining with the team - Willie Mitchell who just signed a two-year extension worth $7 million - got the fourth goal minutes after Brown’s capper which also ran Hawk’s goalie Corey Crawford from the net in favor of Ray Emery. The newcomer Carter managed four shots on goal, a blocked shot, two takeaways, two turnovers and a hit in his 17 minutes on the ice.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous,” Carter said. “The guys were hot tonight. Well [Dustin Brown] was hot. It’s great to see.”

Brown’s performance most likely quashed any chances of himgetting moved, but it does bring up something a bit more troubling. What does it say about a team that it takes something as extreme as a trade and threats of trades to get their act together? There’s been a coaching change, young players shuffled back and forth from Manchester and many disappointing nights to get this team’s attention, but the threat of tearing it apart finally does the trick?

Now before we get too far ahead with all of this, we have to realize this win came against a reeling Blackhawks team that is missing their Captain Jonathan Toews with concussion symptoms. Their power-play hasn’t scored in 39 opportunities. And they have to face a Ducks’ team on NBC Sports Network Sunday night.

Like head coach Darryl Sutter said, “It was a good win; it was two points.” It was two points. Let’s not get too crazy with what we saw Saturday night. After all the Kings are still on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.