While he still may not get the respect he deserves league-wide, Anze Kopitar continues to get ample amounts of credit in Los Angeles and for good reason. In his first seven seasons with the Kings, the Slovenian has averaged nearly a point per game leading his team in season scoring for much of his tenure. In 47 games last season, Kopitar scored 10 goals and added 32 assists to go with an impressive rating of +14 before adding nine points in 18 playoff games. Now entering his eighth NHL campaign, the 26-year-old newly-wed still has a lot to prove.
Those against the sanctity of marriage may bitterly suggest that the recently married Kopitar is ‘whipped.’ But let me assure you that the only thing ‘whipped’ is No. 11’s opposition.
In last year’s lockout-shortened season, Kopitar not only led the Kings in points but led the way in ice time averaging 20:28 per outing in addition to shifts with 25.3 per game.
In the faceoff dot, the former all-star was an impressive 53.3 per cent while being able to use his 6’3, 225-pound frame to his own advantage. Last season, Kopitar recorded 70 hits while remaining disciplined committing only 16 penalty minutes along the way.
While his 35 giveaways last year weren’t anything to write home about, his 27 takeaways certainly suggests that Anze Kopitar is anything but a pushover.
When Kopitar broke his ankle in March 2011 during a home game against the Colorado Avalanche, you could literally hear a pin drop at the Staples Center. While it would be terribly unfortunate for any Kings player to succumb to an injury, the collective reaction of Kopitar’s broken ankle over two years ago was a testament to how important the Slovenian center is not only to the fans but to the Kings franchise overall.
Chosen 11th overall in 2005, Anze Kopitar is known as one of the few wise draft picks chosen by then-GM Dave Taylor. Kopitar entered the league as the first Slovenian-born player in the modern era and, not content on sitting on such a sentiment, began to prove himself for a then-woeful club.
While thanks can be distributed to many in the organization in recent years for the Kings’ gradual progression from pretenders into contenders, Anze Kopitar surely deserves the brunt of such gratitude.
During the 2012 playoffs, Kopitar scored eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 20 games (including scoring the OT-winner in Game 1 of the Cup Final) en route to helping the Kings reach their championship dreams.
When the Kings struggled with their on-ice product, many teams wanted the services of Anze Kopitar only to have GM Dean Lombardi refuse time and time again. There was good reason for his consistent refusal as Kopitar’s first seven seasons have proven that. Don’t expect anything different for No. 11 is season number eight.