Brown failed in quest for Kovalchuk

Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown speaks to reporters ahead of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup final....

Los Angeles Kings' Dustin Brown speaks to reporters ahead of Game 1 of the NHL Stanley Cup final. (REUTERS)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

NEWARK, N.J. - Among his tasks as Los Angeles Kings captain two summers ago, Dustin Brown was asked to help recruit an available offensive superstar.

It was one of the few team assignments that he has failed recently.

When it was down to the Kings and New Jersey Devils in the wooing of Ilya Kovalchuk last summer, Brown was involved in the effort to convince the Russian star that west was best.

It only involved a short car ride and, ultimately, it didn't work out as Kovalchuk bought into Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello's vow that his team was ready to open up offensively.

"You knew it was the Devils and us and it was 50-50 one way or the other," Brown said Tuesday at the Stanley Cup Final media day. "Did I have a gut feeling one way or the other? Not really."

The Kings' loss was of obvious gain to the Devils, a storyline that will continue to develop in the final. Kovalchuk enters the series, which begins Wednesday night, as the leading scorer in the post-season and a contributor in so many ways to the Devils' success.

The Kovalchuk connection is just one of many between the Kings and Devils, teams that entered the final as low seeds and long shots.

Here's a look at some of them:

* Captain America. Given that Brown and opposing captain Zach Parise are both American, it is guaranteed that just the second U.S.-born player will be presented the Cup. The only other was Derian Hatcher, who hoisted the trophy with the Dallas Stars in 1999.

"I've known Zach pretty much from the time we were 15 or 16 years old," Brown said. "We played in numerous tournaments together. I'm sure we roomed together at times. He was one of those guys I met and got along with right away.

"It's a good thing overall for USA Hockey. I think American hockey is going in the right direction and having more players in the spotlight."

Both captains are 27 years old and were teammates on the U.S. team that won the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

* Low-seeded long shots. The Kings began the playoffs at odds of 27-1 to win the Cup and knocked off the top three seeds in the West in order -- Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix. The Devils were No. 6 in the East and at 22-1 before beating No. 3 Florida, No. 5 Philadelphia and the No. 1-seeded New York Rangers.

Whichever team wins will become the lowest seed to ever win the Cup, beating out the 1995 Devils, who were No. 5 in the East.

"I don't think it matters (what seed you are)," Lamoriello said. "Don't be choosy. We think we are favoured every night we play a game."

* Fourth Generation. A big key to the success of both teams thus far has been their ability to roll four lines with success, making them much more difficult to defend.

"It's been critical," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "You don't play 20, 25 playoff games, (with) the grind, the emotion, the battle, without having depth. You just can't."

* The Kitchener Connection. At the 2003 Memorial Cup in Quebec City, the Kitchener Rangers were coached by Peter DeBoer, captained by Mike Richards and at times informed by David Clarkson.

The three will have big roles in the big Cup over the next couple of weeks. DeBoer, of course, is the coach of the Devils now with Clarkson emerging as an important third liner. Richards is a key forward for the Kings.

* Larry Robinson. The former Habs great is no stranger to Stanley Cups, of course, and has been given much credit by DeBoer for helping them some of the younger Devils buy into his coaching plan. He is also the only man to be the head coach of the Devils and Kings.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport


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