From winning the Stanley Cup twice in three seasons to being one of the worst teams in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings haven’t seen a lot of consistency over the last few seasons. One exception to this is Anze Kopitar.
Kopitar was drafted 11th overall, the number he would go on to use throughout his career, in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The now 33-year-old jumped into his first season in the NHL as just a teenager. In the 2006-07 season, he was able to put up 61 points in 72 games.
Kopitar Scores 2 Goals in First NHL Game
Kopitar made his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 6, 2006, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. He didn’t waste much time, scoring his first NHL goal just over nine minutes into the second period. Dustin Brown got an assist and he would go on to be a long-time teammate. Kopitar put in his second career goal just over two minutes later.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the Ducks would go on to win that game by a score of 4-3. This didn’t discourage Kopitar. He put up three assists in his second NHL game, his home debut against St. Louis. He also recorded an assist in his third game, not going a game with at least one point until his fourth game.
Kopitar Awarded Captaincy
In June of 2016, Kopitar was awarded captaincy by the Kings to replace Dustin Brown. Kopitar served as the alternate captain for eight years, beginning his 11th season as the captain. He won multiple awards in the season prior, and consistently put up 70-80 point seasons. In the 2016-17 season, his first as the captain, he had arguably the worst season of his career.
He put 52 points to his name in 76 games, finishing the season as a minus-10. He clearly was not happy with this season, as he came back in the 2017-18 season with his best yet. A staggering 92 points in 82 games was amplified by his plus-21 on the season. He also finished the season with a whopping 17.5 shooting percentage, also recording a 54.13 faceoff win percentage.
Kopitar Picks Up Assist in 1,000th NHL Game
Although by April 1, 2019, the Kings were far out of a playoff spot, Kopitar suited up for his 1,000th NHL game. The team took on the Calgary Flames at home, unfortunately losing 7-2.
Kopitar did pick up one assist on a great play, though. Fellow long-time teammates also participated in the goal with Drew Doughty getting the primary assist and Dustin Brown getting the tap-in goal. Although it wasn’t a great night for the Kings, it was certainly a memorable one for Kopitar.
Awards and Trophies
2011-12: Stanley Cup
The Kings got off to a quick start against the New Jersey Devils, winning each of the first three games. Kopitar scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 1 of the series, from Justin Williams and Drew Doughty. He would go on to pick up an assist and a goal in Game 3, an assist in Game 4, and an assist in Game 6, hoisting the Stanley Cup later that night.
2013-14: Stanley Cup
This series versus the New York Rangers is certainly one to remember. Although the series only went five games, three went to overtime, two of which went to double-overtime. Kopitar was quiet until Game 2 of this series, getting an assist on the double-overtime goal by Dustin Brown. He would also record an assist in Game 3 of the series.
2015-16: Frank J. Selke Trophy, Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
The Kings went out early in the playoffs this season, losing in five games to the San Jose Sharks in the first round. Although it wasn’t the season Kopitar wanted, he still managed to win two awards.
The Selke Trophy is awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL. Kopitar has always been known for his solid defensive play while still putting up a ton of points, making him a special player. The Lady Byng Trophy is awarded to the player who shows the best sportsmanship. This is an award that shows how honorable of a player Kopitar is.
2017-18: Frank J. Selke Trophy
In yet another season where the Kings were eliminated in the first round, this time in four games by the Vegas Golden Knights, Kopitar was able to take home the Selke Trophy. Both times that he won the Selke Trophy were in disappointing seasons, showing his commitment to defense, no matter if his team is winning or not.
Kopitar Likely to Hit 1,000 Points in the 2020-21 Season
Kopitar finished the 2019-20 season win exactly 950 points in his career. The only season when he fell below the 50-point mark was in his 2012-13 campaign, putting up 42 points, albeit only playing 47 games. Hopefully, he can find the 50 points next season, making for one of the most impressive achievements of his career. Even if next season isn’t a championship one for the Kings, it can be a memorable one for Kopitar.