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Brown says losing captaincy 'tough pill to swallow'

But Kings forward 'can focus on my game a little bit more'

by Curtis Zupke / Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Dustin Brown is always thoughtful and open with the media and he held form Thursday with some strong opinions on losing his captaincy with the Los Angeles Kings.

Brown was adamant that he doesn't agree with the decision and is upset with how it was handled by management.

"I'm not going to say [our relationship is] rosy," Brown said before he talked about needing to perform better. "I obviously don't see eye-to-eye with this decision, but I respect it and it's their [decision]. Like I said, I'm a player and they're management and coaches. Ultimately they get the say in this. My job is to be a better hockey player for my teammates, and as a result, help this team win. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's a business and I understand that."

Brown said several times that it was a "tough pill to swallow" two weeks after the Kings announced Anze Kopitar would replace him as captain, a role Brown held since 2008.

Video: Reaction to Anze Kopitar being named captain of Kings

The move was not surprising. Brown was demoted to the third or fourth line at certain points last season and was a non-factor in a lot of games.

His tenure and hard-nosed style defined him when he helped the Kings end their 45-year Stanley Cup championship drought in 2012 and win it again in 2014. But Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in June that it was a natural progression to make this leadership change, especially considering Kopitar's ascension as the Kings' best all-around player.

The change happened after the Kings were eliminated in five games by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round after failing to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2015.

Brown and Kopitar are good friends who broke in with the Kings at about the same time (Brown in 2003-04, Kopitar in 2006-07). But Brown said he didn't think this one change represents what needs to happen in order for the Kings to have success.

"I can't say I agree with it, honestly," Brown said. "In saying that, I think [Kopitar] is going to be a great captain. I've been locker and stall mates with him since he came to this league, and he'll be fine in this situation and I have all the faith in the world that [Kopitar] is deemed the guy now, but from my decision or my perspective I wasn't happy with this decision."

Video: Hear Dustin Brown look for ways to beat the Sharks

The change in captaincy was first reported in late May by TSN. The Kings announced it in mid-June. Brown said he was in discussions with Lombardi during that window.

"I think ultimately this should have happened … a year ago," Brown said. "It happened now. I understand the decision and I respect the decision. Part of my problem is how it was handled. It just put me in an awkward spot, not taking the 'C' away, because that's their decision. [But] we were in the middle of the process. I just didn't think it was handled very well considering it leaked.

"I'm pretty sure my wife and my friends don't have people's numbers to leak it to and they wouldn't leak it. It was just disappointing how that unfolded from my perspective. ... It was a very awkward and stressful process for two weeks."

Lombardi said he won't buy out Brown, who has six years and $47 million remaining on his contract, according to General Fanager.

Lombardi said Brown was putting "enormous" pressure on himself, and Brown concurred that this move might relieve some of that pressure.

"This is maybe them to get me to a place where I'm not worried about the young guys or all the stuff you kind of have to worry about a little more when you're the captain, and now I can focus on my game a little bit more, which is the idea," he said.

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