Anže Kopitar

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Anže Kopitar
Kopitar2015.jpg
Kopitar in 2015
Born (1987-08-24) 24 August 1987 (age 31)
Jesenice, SR Slovenia, YUG
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 228 lb (103 kg; 16 st 4 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Left
NHL team
Former teams
Los Angeles Kings
HK Kranjska Gora
Södertälje SK
National team  Slovenia
NHL Draft 11th overall, 2005
Los Angeles Kings
Playing career 2004–present
Website http://www.anzeseleven.com

Anže Kopitar (Template:IPA-sl ahn-ZHEH ko-PEE-tahr) (born 24 August 1987), nicknamed Kopi,[1] is a Slovenian professional ice hockey centre and alternate captain for 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 upon making his debut in 2006.[2] Kopitar has spent his entire career with the Kings, and apart his debut season when he finished third, has led the team in scoring in each of the following seasons.[3][4]

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, one 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, though in recent seasons, he has improved his defensive game and has also emerged as one of the NHL's premier two-way forwards.[5] Praised as one of the best players in the League, Kopitar won the Stanley Cup championship with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, leading the League in post-season points on both occasions with 20 (tied with teammate Dustin Brown) and 26 points, respectively.[5] Internationally, Kopitar has represented the Slovenian national team in several junior and senior tournaments, as well as at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Personal life

Kopitar was born in Jesenice, Slovenia (then part of Yugoslavia) to Matjaž and Mateja Kopitar.[6] 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[7] and has been the head coach of the Slovenia national ice hockey team since 2010.[8] Mateja worked at the family restaurant, Gostišče Kopitar, in Hrušica, a village about five kilometres from Jesenice.[9]

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.[10] Kopitar has a brother, Gašper, who is five years younger. Gašper also plays hockey; when the Kopitar family moved to Los Angeles, Gašper joined a junior team sponsored by the Kings. He then played for the Portland Winterhawks of the major junior Western Hockey League (WHL) and the Des Moines Buccaneers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), before turning professional with Mora IK in Sweden.[11][12] His favorite player growing up was Sergei Fedorov.[13] Kopitar's grandmother taught English at a local high school, and both Kopitar and his brother learned to speak English from her.[11] Kopitar speaks five languages: Slovene, Serbian, German, Swedish, and English.[6] He enjoys playing football and is a declared supporter of Slovenian football club NK Maribor.[14][15][16]

Until he moved to Sweden, Kopitar lived with his parents, while he lived alone in an apartment in Sweden.[10] After his first season in the NHL, the rest of Kopitar's family joined him in Los Angeles, first living in a house in Hermosa Beach, before moving to Manhattan Beach.[11] At the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championship Division I, held in Maribor, Slovenia, Kopitar met Ines Dominc; they married in July 2013.[17] Their first child, a daughter named Neža, was born on March 14, 2015.[18]

Playing career

European career

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 four goals and four assists (eight 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 Söder recruited Kopitar for the Elitserien in 2004. (Söder had originally discovered Kopitar when he was 13 at a European Youth Olympic Festival.)[19]

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.[10] He was offered a chance to play in Sweden for Södertälje SK, eventually joining their junior team where he 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.[20] After his first season in Sweden, he was chosen 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005 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.[9] Prior to the NHL Draft, Kopitar was also selected in the CHL Import Draft by the Regina Pats of the WHL.[21] He declined to move to North America, however, hoping to further his development by continuing to play against professionals in the Elitserien, rather than the major junior players in the WHL.[22]

Los Angeles Kings

Kopitar during a practice with the Kings in 2007.

Kopitar signed an entry-level contract with the Kings on 7 September 2005, but returned to play in Sweden for another season.[23] The following year, in 2006, he accepted an invitation to Los Angeles' rookie camp. He then made his NHL debut on 6 October 2006, against the Anaheim Ducks and scored two goals in the game.[22] In January 2007, he was named to the NHL YoungStars Game, an event included at the All-Star Game festivities; Kopitar recorded two goals and three assists in the Game.[24] 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.[24] He finished fourth in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year.[25] Kopitar was awarded the Mark Bavis Memorial Award as the best first-year member of the Kings and was also named the Kings' Most Popular Player.[26]

The following season, 2007–08, 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 the second-youngest player, Paul Stastny.[24] Kopitar finished the regular season with 32 goals and 45 assists for 77 points; he led the Kings in assists and points and was second in goals.[27] Kopitar was also named the winner of the Bill Libby Memorial Award as the most valuable player on the Kings, as well as received an award for leading the team in scoring.[26]

Early in the 2008–09 season, on October 11, 2008, Kopitar signed a seven-year contract extension with the Kings worth $47.6 million. The contract would keep Kopitar with the team until the conclusion of the 2015–16 season.[28] He finished the season with 66 points in 82 games, leading the Kings in both assists and points, while again finishing second in goals scored.[29] The following season saw Kopitar score his first career NHL hat-trick, on October 22, 2009 against the Dallas Stars.[30] He finished the 2009–10 season with a career-high 34 goals and 81 points.[31] 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.[32] Kopitar made his Stanley Cup playoff debut that season, as the Kings qualified for the post-season for the first time since 2002.[33] The Kings, however, lost in the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Vancouver Canucks, and Kopitar finished tied for third on the team with five points in six games.[29]

Kopitar with Mora IK in 2012.

The 2010–11 season saw Kopitar play in his 325th consecutive NHL game, which set a new Kings team record, passing Marcel Dionne on March 15, 2011.[34] However eleven days later, Kopitar's season and ironman streak came to an abrupt end at 330 games after he suffered a broken ankle.[35] Despite the injury setback, Kopitar led the team in scoring for the fourth-straight season, amassing 73 points, and was named the team MVP for the second time.[36] In the 2011–12 season, Kopitar led the Kings in scoring with 76 points, including a career-best 51 assists.[37] The Kings won the Stanley Cup as playoff champions, their first title in team history. Kopitar finished tied with Kings captain Dustin Brown to lead the team in playoff scoring, with each having 20 points from 20 games played.[38] Kopitar became the first Slovenian-born player to win the Stanley Cup.[12]

The 2012–13 NHL season was delayed due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout, so Kopitar joined his younger brother Gašper on Mora IK of the Swedish second-tier league HockeyAllsvenskan, signing a contract with the team for the 2012–13 season.[39] He played 31 games for Mora, scoring 34 points, before he NHL lockout ended in January 2013. A shortened, 48-game NHL season commenced, Kopitar recorded 42 points in 47 games to once again lead the Kings in scoring, and was named the team's best defensive player.[40]

The 2013–14 season saw Kopitar lead the team in scoring for the seventh-consecutive season, with 70 points, and was named both the teams MVP and best defensive player. He also was a finalist for the Frank J. Selke Trophy as best defensive player in the NHL, the first time he was nominated for the award.[40] In the playoffs Kopitar led the entire league in scoring, recording 26 points in 26 games, as the team won their second Stanley Cup championship.[41] The following season had Kopitar tie Marcel Dionne as the only player in Kings history to lead the team in scoring eight times, having scored 16 goals and 48 assists for 64 points.[42] Kopitar also received another nomination as a finalist for the Selke Trophy, and was named a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy for sportsmanship.[43]

During the 2015–16 season Kopitar signed an eight-year contract extension with the Kings. It would pay him an average of $10 million per season until the end of the 2023–24 season.[44] He finished the season with 74 points, setting a team record by leading the Kings in scoring for a ninth consecutive season; he also was named a finalist for both the Selke and Lady Byng Trophies.[45]

International play

Kopitar with Slovenia at the 2008 IIHF World Championship.

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.[46] 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 si goals and eight points in five games during the under-18 tournament and finished second overall for goals scored and third for points, leading Slovenia in both categores;[47][48] he had one goal and one assist in five games at the World Juniors.[49]

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 three goals and nine points in six games and was tied for fifth among scoring leaders.[50]

Slovenia qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi; as the qualifying games were held during the NHL season Kopitar was unable to participate, though his father Matjaž coached the team and Gašper played in the matches.[51] Though Gašper was part of the team that secured qualification for Slovenia, he was not named to the Olympic roster.[52] Kopitar helped Slovenia reach the quarterfinals of the tournament by scoring two goals and one assist.[53]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    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
2014–15 Los Angeles Kings NHL 79 16 48 64 10
2015–16 Los Angeles Kings NHL 81 25 49 74 16 5 2 2 4 2
NHL totals 764 243 441 684 200 75 20 44 64 39

International

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
2015 Slovenia WC 7 1 3 4 0
Junior totals 30 30 13 43 24
Senior totals 37 12 25 37 14

All-Star Games

Year Location   G A Pts
2008 Atlanta 0 0 0
2011 Carolina 2 0 2
2015 Columbus 0 0 0
All-Star Game totals 2 0 2

Awards and honours

NHL

Award Year(s)
Stanley Cup champion 2012, 2014
NHL All-Star 2008, 2011, 2015

Nominations

Award Year(s) nominated
Frank J. Selke Trophy 2014, 2015, 2016
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy 2015, 2016

Los Angeles Kings team awards

Award Year
Bill Libby Memorial Award 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016
Leading Scorer Award 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Mark Bavis Memorial Award 2007
Most Popular Player 2007, 2011
Best Defensive Player 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015

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External links

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