Dustin Brown signs with Zurich Lions

Updated: November 2, 2012, 1:38 PM ET
By Craig Custance | ESPN The Magazine

Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown has become the latest high-profile NHL player to head for Switzerland during the NHL lockout.

The captain of the defending Stanley Cup champion has signed a deal with reigning Swiss league champion ZSC Lions, he and his agent, Scott Norton, confirmed to ESPN.com.

"Big part of it for me is just to play, I need to play and stay in shape," Brown told ESPN.com Friday. "I've been having those skates with guys, it's served its purpose for a while, but I need to play."

He chose Zurich because of his familiarity with Marc Crawford, who coached him in L.A., and because he found it to be a terrific place to move his wife and kids to if it ends up that there's no NHL season.

"Long term if I'm there for the full season, I'd be comfortable bringing my family to Zurich," Brown said. "If I'm going to play overseas and if we're not going to have an NHL season ... if that's the case .. then I wanted an opportunity to bring my kids over and have a smooth situation for them in terms of school and things like that."

Brown is planning on leaving Nov. 7 for Zurich and playing his first game Nov. 13, after teams return from a break for players' national obligations.

Crawford replaced Bob Hartley as the coach in Zurich after Hartley guided the Lions to the title last season.

Crawford said the addition of Brown should help Zurich keep pace with some of the other Swiss teams that have added NHL stars, including a HC Davos team that beat Zurich earlier this week. Davos is led by San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton and New York Rangers forward Rick Nash.

Brown joins a Lions team that already is getting strong contributions from former NHL players.

"We've got three good imports," Crawford said on Wednesday. "We have Ryan Shannon, who has been really good. Jeff Tambellini has been really good and Matt Lashoff, who played with the (Toronto) Marlies last year."

Crawford said that the NHL players joining the league because of the lockout have started to make a big impact on the Swiss league after a slow start.

"For the first month, those guys were all behind, they really were," Crawford said. "Now they've caught up and are really showing themselves."

Brown had 22 goals during the regular season but was one of the Kings' best players during a dominant postseason. During the Kings' Stanley Cup run, Brown had 20 points in 20 games, including eight goals. His three game-winning goals led the playoffs.

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.

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