Anže Kopitar

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Anže Kopitar
Anze Kopitar.jpg
Born (1987-08-24) 24 August 1987 (age 26)
Jesenice, Slovenia
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Los Angeles Kings
Mora IK (Swe-2)
Södertälje Sportklubb (SEL)
HK Kranjska Gora (SLO)
National team  Slovenia
NHL Draft 11th overall, 2005
Los Angeles Kings
Playing career 2004–present
Website http://www.anzeseleven.com

Anže Kopitar (pronounced [anˈʒɛ kɔˈpiːtaɾ] ahn-ZHEH koh-PEE-tahr) (born 24 August 1987), nicknamed Kopi,[1] is a Slovenian professional ice hockey center and alternate captain of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL). The 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL in 2006.[2] Kopitar has spent his entire career with the Kings and has led the team in scoring for seven consecutive seasons.

Kopitar played junior hockey for his hometown team HK Acroni Jesenice before moving to Sweden at age 16 to play in a more competitive league. He spent one season with the junior teams of the Södertälje SK organization, and then with the senior team of the top-level Elitserien. He moved to North America to join the Kings in 2006, a year after he was drafted, and he finished fourth in the Calder Trophy voting his rookie year. Kopitar's dynamic offensive talent allowed him to immediately become Los Angeles' best offensive weapon, but in recent seasons he has improved his defensive game and emerged as one of the NHL's premier two-way forwards.[3] Praised as one of the best players in the league, Kopitar won the Stanley Cup championship with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, and led the league in postseason points on both occasions with 20 (tied with teammate Dustin Brown) and 26 points, respectively.[3] Internationally, he has represented the Slovenian national team in several junior and senior tournaments, as well as the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Personal life[edit]

Kopitar was born in Jesenice, Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) to Matjaž and Mateja Kopitar.[4] Matjaž played hockey for HK Acroni Jesenice in the Yugoslav and later Slovenian championship in the 1980s and 1990s, and competed in three World Championships (in the B and C pools; lower levels) for both Yugoslavia and Slovenia in the early 1990s. He also coached HK Acroni Jesenice of the Austrian Hockey League in the 2006–07 season[5] and has been the head coach of the Slovenia national ice hockey team since 2010.[6] Mateja worked at the family restaurant, Gostišče Kopitar, in Hrušica, a village about five kilometres from Jesenice.[7]

When Kopitar was four, his father first taught him how to skate; Matjaž built an ice rink in their backyard in Hrušica, and Kopitar would go out there whenever he could.[8] Kopitar has a brother, Gašper, who is five years younger. Gašper also plays hockey; when the family moved to Los Angeles he joined a junior team sponsored by the Kings. He then played for the Portland Winterhawks of the major junior Western Hockey League and the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League, before turning professional with Mora IK in Sweden.[9][10] Kopitar's grandmother taught English at a local high school, and both Kopitar and his brother learned to speak English from her.[9] Kopitar speaks five languages: Slovene, Serbian, German, Swedish, and English.[4] He enjoys playing association football and is a declared supporter of Slovenian football club Maribor.[11][12][13] Until he moved to Sweden, Kopitar lived with his parents. While in Sweden he lived alone in an apartment.[8] After his first season in the NHL, the rest of Kopitar's family joined him in Los Angeles. They first lived in a house in Hermosa Beach, then moved to Manhattan Beach.[9]

Playing career[edit]

European career[edit]

In 2002, Kopitar began playing for the youth team of his hometown, HK Acroni Jesenice. He split the year between the team's under-18 and junior club's, and also appeared in 11 games for the senior team HK Kranjska Gora of the Slovenian Ice Hockey League. Kopitar had 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in the senior league, and recorded 76 points in 14 games for the Jesenice under-18 team and 27 points in 20 games for the junior club. He led the Slovenian Ice Hockey League in scoring at the age of 16, and Swedish scout Lars Soder recruited Kopitar for the Elitserien in 2004 (Soder had originally discovered Kopitar when he was 13 at a European Youth Olympic Festival).[14]

The Slovenian Ice Hockey League did not have a high enough skill level, so Kopitar decided that if he wanted to improve his career prospects he would have to leave the country.[8] He was offered a chance to play in Sweden for Södertälje SK. He played for their junior team and led the league in scoring with 49 points (28 goals, 21 assists) in 30 games. Prior to the 2005 NHL Entry Draft Kopitar was ranked the top European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.[15] After his first season in Sweden, he was chosen 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Unlike most top-ranked prospects, Kopitar was not at the draft, but in Sweden playing in preseason games. Some members of the team had a party for the draft, including Niclas Bergfors, who was selected 23rd overall by the New Jersey Devils.[7] Prior to the NHL Draft, Kopitar was also selected in the CHL Import Draft by the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.[16] He declined to move to North America, hoping to further his development by continuing to play against professionals in the Elitserien, rather than the juniors in the WHL.[17]

Los Angeles Kings[edit]

Kopitar signed an entry-level contract with the Kings on 7 September 2005, but went back and played in Sweden for another season.[18] In 2006, he accepted an invitation to the Los Angeles Kings' rookie camp. Kopitar made his NHL debut 6 October 2006, against the Anaheim Ducks and scored two goals in the game.[17] In January 2007 he was named to the NHL YoungStars Game, an event of the NHL All-Star Game; Kopitar recorded two goals and three assists.[19] Kopitar completed his first NHL season third among rookies in scoring behind Evgeni Malkin and Paul Stastny, with 20 goals and 41 assists for 61 points. It marked the fifth highest point total by a Kings rookie, and the highest since Luc Robitaille in 1986–87.[19] He finished fourth in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.[20] Kopitar was awarded the Mark Bavis Memorial Award as the best first-year member of the Kings and named the King's Most Popular Player.[21]

The following season, Kopitar was selected to represent the Western Conference at the 56th NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta, his first appearance in the game. He was the youngest player in the game, nearly two years younger than Paul Stastny.[19] He finished the season with 32 goals and 45 assists for 77 points. Kopitar led the Kings in assists and points and was second in goals.[22] He was named the winner of the Bill Libby Memorial Award as the most valuable player on the Kings; he also received an award for leading the team in scoring.[21]

On 11 October 2008, early in the 2008–09 season Kopitar signed a seven-year extension with the Kings worth $47.6 million. The contract would keep Kopitar with the team until the conclusion of the 2015–16 season.[23] He finished the season with 66 points in 82 games, leading the Kings in both assists and points, while second in goals.[24]

Kopitar scored his first career hat trick on 22 October 2009 against the Dallas Stars.[25] He finished the 2009–10 season with a career-high 34 goals and 81 points.[26] For the second time in his career Kopitar won the Bill Libby Memorial Award as the Kings most valuable player, and led the team in scoring for the third straight year.[27] Kopitar also made his NHL playoff debut in 2010 as the Kings qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2002.[28] The Kings lost in the first round to the Vancouver Canucks, and Kopitar finished tied for third on the team with five points in six games.[24]

On 15 March 2011, Kopitar played his 325th consecutive NHL game and set a new record for the Kings, passing Marcel Dionne.[29] Eleven days later, however, Kopitar's season and ironman streak came to an abrupt end at 330 games with a broken ankle.[30] Even so, Kopitar led the team in scoring for the fourth straight season, amassing a 73-point campaign prior to his injury.

In the 2011–12 season Kopitar led the Kings in scoring with 76 points, including a career-best 51 assists.[31] Won the Stanley Cup with the Kings, the first time the team won the Cup. Kopitar tied with Dustin Brown to lead the team in playoff scoring, with each having twenty points in twenty games.[32] Kopitar was the first Slovenian-born player to win the Stanley Cup.[10]

Due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout, Kopitar joined younger brother Gašper Kopitar's team Mora IK of the Swedish second-tier league HockeyAllsvenskan, signing a contract with the team for the 2012–13 season.[33] The lockout ended on 6 January 2013, and Kopitar returned to Kings to play in the shortened 2012–13 NHL season.

At the end of regular 2013–14 NHL season Kopitar led the Kings offense for the 7th consecutive season with 70 points.[34] In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Kopitar was yet again Los Angeles' top scorer, having amassed 26 points in as many games.[35] The Kings have won three game seven deciders in their run to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they faced New York Rangers. On 13 June 2014 Los Angeles won game five of the Finals and the series overall with a score of 4-1 in front of home crowd at Staples Center. This was Kopitar's and Kings' second Stanley Cup title in the last three seasons.

International play[edit]

Slovenia VS USA at the IIHF World Hockey Championship 2008 - Anže Kopitar (2).jpg
Kopitar playing for Slovenia in 2008
Medal record
Competitor for  Slovenia
Ice hockey
IIHF World U18 Championship
Bronze 2003 Latvia Division I Group A
Silver 2005 Slovenia Division I Group A
World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
Bronze 2006 Slovenia Division I Group A
Silver 2005 Estonia Division I Group B
Ice Hockey World Championships
Gold 2007 Slovenia Division I Group B

Kopitar first played in an international tournament when he participated in the Division I (second level) tournament of the 2003 IIHF World U18 Championships for the Slovenian national junior team. He appeared in five games and recorded three points.[36] The following year he appeared in the 2004 tournament and the 2004 World Junior Championships. Slovenia appeared in the Division I level at both tournaments. Kopitar scored 6 goals and 8 points in 5 games during the under-18 tournament and finished second overall for goals scored and third for points, leading Slovenia in both categores;[37][38] he had one goal and one assist in five games at the World Juniors.[39]

In 2005 Kopitar appeared in three international tournaments for Slovenia; he took part in the World Juniors, U18 Championship and the World Championship. Both junior tournaments were at the Division I level, while the senior championship was at the top level. At the 2006 World Championship he played for Slovenia at the top level and recorded 3 goals and 9 points in 6 games and was tied 5th among scoring leaders.[40]

Slovenia qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics; the qualifying games were held during the NHL season so Kopitar was unable to participate, though his father Matjaz coached the team.[41] Though Gasper, Kopitar's brother, was part of the team that secured qualification for Slovenia, he was left off the Olympic roster.[42] Kopitar helped Slovenia reach the quarterfinals of the tournament by scoring two goals and one assist.[43]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2002–03 HK Acroni Jesenice U18 Slov-U18 14 38 38 76 10
2002–03 HK Acroni Jesenice Jr Slov-Jr 20 15 12 27 8
2002–03 HK Kranjska Gora Slov 11 4 4 8 4
2003–04 HK Acroni Jesenice Jr. Slov-Jr 25 32 28 60 16
2003–04 HK Kranjska Gora Slov 21 14 11 25 10 4 1 1 2 0
2004–05 Södertälje SK U18 Swe-U18 1 1 2 3 0 1 0 0 0 2
2004–05 Södertälje SK J20 30 28 21 49 26 2 1 1 2 0
2004–05 Södertälje SK SEL 5 0 0 0 0 10 0 0 0 0
2005–06 Södertälje SK SEL 47 8 12 20 28
2006–07 Los Angeles Kings NHL 72 20 41 61 24
2007–08 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 32 45 77 22
2008–09 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 27 39 66 32
2009–10 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 34 47 81 16 6 2 3 5 2
2010–11 Los Angeles Kings NHL 75 25 48 73 20
2011–12 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 25 51 76 20 20 8 12 20 9
2012–13 Mora IK Swe.1 31 10 24 34 14
2012–13 Los Angeles Kings NHL 47 10 32 42 16 18 3 6 9 12
2013–14 Los Angeles Kings NHL 82 29 41 70 24 26 5 21 26 14
NHL totals 604 202 344 546 174 70 18 42 60 37

International[edit]

Year Team Comp   GP G A Pts PIM
2003 Slovenia U18 (Div I) 5 2 1 3 0
2004 Slovenia WJC (Div I) 5 1 1 2 0
2004 Slovenia U18 (Div I) 5 6 2 8 0
2005 Slovenia WJC (Div I) 5 10 3 13 6
2005 Slovenia U18 (Div I) 5 6 5 11 14
2005 Slovenia OGQ 3 1 1 2 2
2005 Slovenia WC 6 1 0 1 2
2006 Slovenia WJC (Div I) 5 5 1 6 4
2006 Slovenia WC 6 3 6 9 2
2007 Slovenia WC (Div I) 5 1 13 14 2
2008 Slovenia WC 5 3 1 4 2
2014 Slovenia OG 5 2 1 3 4
Junior totals 30 30 13 43 24
Senior totals 30 11 22 33 14

All-Star Games[edit]

Year Location   G A Pts
2008 Atlanta 0 0 0
2011 Carolina 2 0 2
All-Star Game totals 2 0 2

Awards and honours[edit]

NHL[edit]

Award Year(s)
Stanley Cup champion 2012, 2014

Los Angeles Kings team awards[edit]

Award Year
Bill Libby Memorial Award 2008, 2010, 2011
Leading Scorer Award 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Mark Bavis Memorial Award 2007
Most Popular Player 2007, 2011
Best Defensive Player 2011, 2013

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Znani Slovenci v en glas: Kapo dol, Kopi!" [Prominent Slovenians in One Voice: Hats Off, Kopi!]. MMC RTV Slovenija (in Slovene) (RTV Slovenija). 12 June 2012. 
  2. ^ DeLuca, Joseph Vito (2 December 2013). "The History of Sovenian Hockey". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  3. ^ a b Masisak, Corey (14 June 2014). "Kings center Kopitar proves to be elite player". NHL.com. Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Dater, Adrian (6 January 2011). "Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles Kings has eyes on Stanley Cup". SportsIllustrated.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  5. ^ Cvetanovič, Drago (16 April 2010). "Jeseniški trenerji skozi čas" (in Slovenian). HKJesenice.si. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  6. ^ Szemberg, Szymon (11 February 2013). "To Sochi against all odds" (in Slovenian). RTVSlo.si. Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  7. ^ a b Morreale, Mike G. (26 October 2009). "Kopitar's NHL stardom years in the making". NHL.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  8. ^ a b c Kopitar, Anže (28 December 2010). "My Story: Anze Kopitar". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  9. ^ a b c Des Moines Register (14 January 2011). "Buccaneer Kopitar dreams of an NHL career". Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa). Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  10. ^ a b Merk, Martin (6 July 2012). "King of Slovenia". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  11. ^ "MMC Pogovor: Anže Kopitar" (in Slovene). RTV Slovenija. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  12. ^ "Kopitar Pic" (in Slovene). Večer. Retrieved 2011-02-26. 
  13. ^ Marin Veršić (13 September 2012). "Oni pobjeđuju: Anže Kopitar" [They're winning: Anze Kopitar] (in Bosnian, Slovene). Al Jazeera Balkans. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  14. ^ Podnieks, Andrew (17 November 2009). "NHL top scorer not in Vancouver". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2009-11-18. 
  15. ^ NHL (22 July 2005). "2005 Entry Draft Rankings". NHL.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  16. ^ WHL (30 June 2005). "2005 CHL Import Draft Summary". WHL.ca. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  17. ^ a b Arritt, Dan (11 October 2009). "Kings' Anze Kopitar Grew Up Fast". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles). Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  18. ^ Los Angeles Kings (7 September 2005). "Kings Agree to Terms with Anze Kopitar". LosAngelesKings.com. Retrieved 2011-01-15. 
  19. ^ a b c LaRocca, Thomas (26 January 2008). "From Afar to YoungStars to All-Star". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  20. ^ Morreale, Mike G. (26 September 2008). "Kopitar ready to lead Kings to playoffs". NHL.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  21. ^ a b Los Angeles Kings (2010). "Kings Annual Team Awards". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  22. ^ Los Angeles Kings (11 January 2011). "Anze Kopitar Named to NHL All-Star Team". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  23. ^ TSN (11 October 2008). "Kings sign Kopitar to seven-year extension". TSN.ca. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  24. ^ a b Los Angeles Kings (2011). 2011–12 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide. Glendale, California: Chromatic. p. 48. 
  25. ^ Canadian Press (23 October 2008). "Handzus scores in overtime, Kopitar has hat trick as Kings edge Stars". NHL.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  26. ^ NHL.com (12 April 2010). "Canucks-Kings Storylines". NHL.com. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  27. ^ Los Angeles Kings (10 April 2010). "Kings 2010 Award Winners". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  28. ^ Roarke, Shawn P. (11 April 2010). "Why Kings will win: All new to us". NHL.com. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  29. ^ Hammond, Rich (14 March 2011). "Iron Man Anze". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  30. ^ Hammond, Rich (26 March 2011). "Kings lose Kopitar to ankle injury". LAKings.com. Retrieved 2011-03-27. 
  31. ^ Associated Press (14 January 2013). "Kings' Anze Kopitar tests knee, still unlikely for opener". CBC.ca. Retrieved 2013-01-29. 
  32. ^ Canadian Press (12 June 2012). "Hollywood Ending: LA Kings win first Stanley Cup title in team history". NHL.com. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  33. ^ Åström, Kenny (19 September 2012). "Anze Kopitar är klar för Mora IK" (in Swedish). MoraIK.se. Retrieved 2012-09-19. 
  34. ^ "2013-2014 Regular season statistics". LA Kings - NHL.com. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  35. ^ "2013-2014 Playoffs statistics". LA Kings - NHL.com. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  36. ^ IIHF (29 March 2003). "Slovenia Player Statistics". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  37. ^ IIHF (15 September 2006). "Goal Scoring Leaders". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  38. ^ IIHF (15 September 2006). "Scoring Leaders". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  39. ^ IIHF (13 September 2006). "Player Statistics by Team". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  40. ^ IIHF (21 May 2006). "2006 Scoring leaders". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2011-02-23. 
  41. ^ Szemberg, Szymon (2013-02-08). "Shocker! Slovenia to Sochi". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  42. ^ Potts, Andy (2014-02-12). "Family Values". IIHF.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 
  43. ^ Rosen, Dan (2014-02-19). "Kopitar proud of Slovenia's run at Olympics". NHL.com. Retrieved 2014-06-17. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Lauri Tukonen
Los Angeles Kings first round draft pick
2005
Succeeded by
Jonathan Bernier