Dustin Brown wanted to make certain he'd be playing for a perennial contender for the foreseeable future.
That's precisely the reason he negotiated with Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on his eight-year contract extension, which was finalized on Thursday and made official by both sides.
Combined with the final year on his current deal, the Kings captain will now be with the club through the 2021-22 season. According to ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun, the new deal is worth $47 million, an annual rate of $5.875 million.
Brown negotiated his own contract with Lombardi and believes that was the reason negotiations went smoothly and concluded so quickly -- talks began a little over a week ago.
"Going into this, I did my homework and did comparisons and received help from the [NHL] Players' Association on some numbers and stats," Brown said on a conference call. "I realized in a [salary] cap era that there's only so much money to go around, and with the cap going down this year and not having that certainty what it will be next year, there's an opportunity to keep this team together. That was part of my decision in wanting to stay because I believe we have a chance to win."
"For me, there's a comfort level with the Kings, and I know Dean and the ownership group here in Los Angeles very well," Brown said. "I was comfortable negotiating on my own."
Lombardi felt equally comfortable.
"He's very much adapted to Southern California and he wants his kids at school here; every facet that a player looks at where he wants to play is within place," Lombardi said. "Now it was just a matter of coming to a fair number. But Dustin understood the cap implications. It wasn't about getting as much as he could, but about getting a fair contract that would allow us to win for many years."
Another reason Brown wanted to get a deal done sooner rather than later was to keep from getting hounded with questions regarding his contract. He didn't want it to become a distraction during the 2013-14 season.
"During the year, it should be about hockey and what's being done on the ice," Brown said. "I didn't want it to be a distraction and didn't want it to get in the way in what I do on a day-to-day basis. We needed to get it done prior to the year if we were to get it done at all."
Brown, 28, was the 13th pick of the 2003 NHL Draft, and in nine seasons has 181 goals and 388 points in 641 games. He has 31 points in 50 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including 20 in 20 games in 2012 when he helped the Kings win their first Stanley Cup championship. He was named captain of the Kings on Oct. 8, 2008.
Lombardi said Brown is determined to become an even better player. He said during the negotiating process, the right wing said he wants to do more to help the club improve.
"It's pretty amazing; seven years ago, he couldn't say two words because he was so shy and now he's doing his own contract and setting himself up for life," Lombardi said. "I don't think he's done in terms of growth and he's told me so. The fact he was looking out for the team during these negotiations tells me a lot about his growth, but he also stressed his desire to be even better."
Brown had 18 goals and 29 points in 46 games in 2012-13. He helped the Kings reach the Western Conference Final for the second consecutive season.
"There's always room to grow; there's stuff on the ice you work on every day and I'm still learning every day," Brown said. "I was named captain at a young age when our team was different in a different time. There's places I can be better within my leadership role. Thing is, we don't have just one leader on this team, there are many, but at the end of the day, I was named captain and leading is not something that's taught. It's sticking with it and figuring it out and is more of an instinct thing."
Brown was asked if he is worried about players entering training camp out of shape as a result of the short offseason.
"That responsibility falls on players," he said. "We have a group that will push for each other in the summer to be ready because we know the type of team we have and what we're capable of. The flipside of that is if a guy isn't coming into camp in shape, it's not going to be Dean or the coaches or strength coach who will give him a push. It'll be the players. That's the type of environment you want to be a part of. We hold each other accountable, and that's when the real success begins."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL
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