The Los Angeles Kings are reportedly poised to make a change in their leadership structure this offseason.
According to TSN’s Frank Seravalli Dustin Brown has been told he will no longer be the team’s captain next season and the Kings want to go in a different direction with the ‘C.’
Los Angeles is in the midst of diagnosing changes within their organization, though the team has never publicly said they wanted to remove the captaincy from Brown or trade him to another team. Brown, who was drafted by the Kings in 2003 and given the captaincy in 2008, has never publicly said he wants to leave LA.
Brown has yet to speak to reporters about the Kings since the team was ousted from the first-round of the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks in five games.
In the summer of 2013, Brown signed an eight-year $47 million contract extension. At the time, Brown had five straight full seasons of 20-or-more goals. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he was on pace for well over 20 goals. Now the deal is considered one of the most overpriced contracts in the NHL.
The Kings may feel a need to forge ahead with Brown, even if he isn’t captain, because his deal appears unmovable. A buyout would add another monetary penalty to LA’s salary cap situation that also includes Mike Richards.
His role has been marginalized to a mostly third-line spot and the past three seasons and Brown has averaged 12.3 goals per-year in that span.
This season he scored 11 goals, after changing his diet and workout habits the prior summer in order to try to rediscover his game.
He is the only American NHL player to twice captain a team to a Stanley Cup. Brown is also one of five players to win a Stanley Cup twice as captain since the NHL started to expand again in the early-90s. The others are Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman Scott Stevens and Jonathan Toews.
“He’s our captain and we look at him the same way no matter what line or how many minutes he’s playing,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said in a March interview with Puck Daddy. “He’s our captain and had been for a long time and that’s how it’s going to be.”
Said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi after the season, “I don’t think anybody is more frustrated than Dustin himself."
During the year coach Darryl Sutter was critical of Brown’s play and noted that others have stepped up as leaders for this group.
Considering Brown’s dwindling production there’s a belief that center Anze Kopitar could slide into the captaincy role. Kopitar signed an eight-year $80 million contract extension with Los Angeles this season, and led the team in scoring with 74 points.
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