Early on for Anže
The young man from Slovenia in 2002 dominated every aspect of the youth league and SHL (Slovenian Hockey League) for his homeside HK Acroni Jesenice and pro team HK Kranjska Gora. For the senior team he recorded eight points in 11 games and for the junior under-18 team he racked in 76 points in 14 games which is insane.
Since Kopitar was just too good for his own countries league, he made his move to join Södertälje SK junior team where he led the League in scoring, with 28 goals, 21 assists for 49 points in 30 games played. After his first season in Sweden, he was chosen 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to the NHL Draft, Kopitar was taken in the CHL Import Draft by the Regina Pats and ultimately declined to move to North America to further his development by playing in the Elitserien.
Kopitar playing for Södertälje SK junior team in Sweden
The Start in LA (2006-2009)
The story in LA started on October 6th, 2006 where Kopitar made his NHL debut against rival team the Anaheim Ducks where he had a great start to his career and ended up scoring two goals in the game. His rookie campaign would see him finish third in rookie scoring tallying 20 goals, 41 assists and 61 points and finish fourth in voting for the Calder Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year). Years later it would be the first pen to paper NHL moment for Kopitar as he signed a seven-year contract extension with the Kings worth $47.6 million (6.8 AAV). This contract would keep Kopitar with the team until the conclusion of the 2015–16 season and be regarded as one of the more steals in the NHL later on.
Kopitar’s Totals 06’ to 09’:
Games Played: 236
Playoff Appearances: None
Hollywood’s Finest (2010-2016)
These years are Kopitar’s greatest as a professional hockey player because of his dominicance and winning. The 2009/10 NHL season was Kopitar’s Stanley Cup playoff debut as the Kings qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2002. No the Kings didn’t end up winning but it was the core’s first taste at what it takes to win. The Kings lost in Round One to the Vancouver Canucks, and Kopitar finished tied for third on the team with five points in six games. The season after it was a disappointment as the Kings missed the playoffs but, the 2011/12 Season was where magic struck.
The Kings won the Stanley Cup which was their first title in team history. Kopitar finished tied with Kings captain Dustin Brown to lead the team in playoff scoring, with 20 points in 20 games played. This was also NHL history being made as Kopitar became the first Slovenian-born player to win the Stanley Cup. After this great achievement Kopitar was named as the 2012 Slovenian male Athlete of the Year. Skipping to 2014, The Kings were crowned the Stanley Cup once again after Kopitar lead the team in points with 26 in 26 games played.
As mentioned before in the 2015/16 Season was when that massive deal he signed back in 2008 he would re-sign again with Kings on an even bigger deal that would be an eight-year contract extension that would pay him an average of $10 million per season until the end of the 2023/24 season. This season was good award wise for Kopitar grabbing the Lady Byng and Frank J. Selke Trophies, the first player from the Kings to win either award. After this great season, Kopitar was named the Captain of the Los Angeles Kings.
Kopitar’s Totals 10’ to 16’:
Games Played: 528
Awards: x2 Stanley Cup, Lady Byng and Frank J. Selke
Playoff Appearances: 5
Anže: Like Fine Wine 2017-Present
After the 2017/18 Season where Kopitar had a career best 35 goals, 57 assists 92 points the Kings have gone into a rebuild scenario but Kopitar has maintained great play. Kopitar is 100% a LA sports scene icon and an NHL player that will be remembered for years to come. Reaching this unbelievable milestone after the road he was on was unique, long, and worth it is totally earned for such a human being like himself.
Kopitar’s Career Totals/Achievements:
Games Played: 1124
Awards: x2 Stanley Cup, Lady Byng and Frank J. Selke, x6 Bill Libby Memorial Award (MVP of Kings).
Games Played: 79
Playoff Appearances: 6
Is Anže Kopitar a Hall of Famer at careers end? My answer, YES!
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