The team announced the decision Thursday morning.
LA Kings Insider first reported LA informed Kopitar of the choice.
The 31- year-old Brown had been the team’s captain since 2008 and has six years left on an eight-year $47 million contract. Brown captained the Kings to their only two Stanley Cup championships. He is the second American born player to win a Stanley Cup as team captain.
The 28-year-old Kopitar, who ranks sixth on the Kings’ career scoring list with 684 points, signed an eight-year, $80 million contract extension last season. It kicks in the start of next year. He had been an alternate captain since 2008.
The decision to go with Kopitar to replace Brown, whose role had been marginalized the last several years, is a logical fit.
Late in the season, Kings coach Darryl Sutter inferred that Kopitar, who led LA in scoring last season with 74 points, had become the team’s top leader.
“Our team, the top players are also the captains, so it goes hand-in-hand. It’s a lot of responsibility for Kopi, but that’s good responsibility and it’s good pressure,” Sutter said. “I trust him on and off the ice, so you expect him to be a top guy in both those areas. He’s a top player on the ice and he’s our captain.”
At another point, when asked about Brown, Sutter noted that others had stepped up in the team’s locker room, “We have a group of captains. Brownie was the captain, and he’s been the captain for how many years? So that’s the ‘C.’ But Brownie also likes having lots of support around him, and we’ve had that. That’s how we’ve won here. It wasn’t on one guy. We had a lot of guys who don’t wear letters that were captains.”
When Brown signed his contract extension, he 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.
His role has been lessened to a mostly third-line spot and the past three seasons and Brown has averaged 12.3 goals per-year in that span.
This past season he scored 11 goals, after changing his diet and workout habits the prior summer in order to try to rediscover his game.
Kopitar has been one of the NHL’s top players for several years. The Kings drafted him 11th overall in 2005, and he has never finished with fewer than 61 points in a full season. He’s a three-time Selke Trophy finalist, including for his play in 2015-16, and adored in his native Slovenia as one of the country’s greatest sports ambassadors.
The Kings have yet to announce the rest of their leadership group, and whether it includes Brown.
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