After the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, general manager Brian Burke took a shot at the rival Kings by making sure a phrase engraved on the championship rings proclaimed them the first California-based team to win hockey’s most cherished prize.
Five years later, Dustin Brown led the Kings to their title with a spectacular playoff run as their captain and pacesetter. Brown and the Kings won again in 2014, giving them a 2-1 lead in championships they still hold over the Ducks. The passage of time hasn’t eased the sting for the fiery Burke.
“We got arrogant. We won our first Cup way ahead of L.A. They had been in the league for 40 years,” the former Ducks GM said Friday. “And Brownie and his guys took two of ‘em. So that really still sticks in my craw.”
He wasn’t kidding.
It’s appropriate that two key figures in California’s only Cup-winning teams will enter the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame together this year.
Brown, who set the Kings record of 1,296 regular-season games played while spending his entire 18-season career with them and was the captain of their two Cup-winning teams, and Burke, whose career as an agent, executive and media commentator included three-plus seasons with the Ducks and their lone championship, were among five new members announced Friday.
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame — separate from the globe-spanning Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, for which a player must wait three years after retirement to become eligible — is based in Eveleth, Minn., and honors contributions made by Americans at all levels.
The induction process is overseen by USA Hockey, the sport’s national governing body. Brown, who had his number retired by the Kings and was honored with a statue outside Crypto.com Arena this year, is a native of Ithaca, N.Y., and recently left Southern California to return to that area.
Burke was born in Providence, R.I., and was raised in Minnesota.
The induction ceremony will take place Dec. 6 in Boston. Also elected were 1998 women’s gold medalist and longtime Boston College coach Katie King Crowley; two-time Stanley Cup champion Jamie Langenbrunner; and former NHL on-ice official Brian Murphy.
“I’m flattered and honored. It’s just not on the spectrum of dreams,” Burke said during a conference call.
Brown, who retired after the 2021-22 season with 385 goals, 712 points and 738 penalty minutes, echoed the theme of not expecting such an honor. But he certainly earned it.
Brown was the second American-born captain of a Cup champion — he followed Michigan-born Derian Hatcher of the Dallas Stars by 13 years — and played many times for Team USA in international events, winning a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics and finishing fourth in the 2014 Games.
His bruising style set the tone for the Kings, and his strong leadership was invaluable as they rose to the top of the heap.
“This is not a dream we have, but it’s the result of all of us chasing our dreams and following those dreams to the best of our abilities,” he said. “I’m shocked. It’s an incredible honor.”
And completely deserved.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.