Posted by: Adventures in Pucking | July 29, 2011

Man of the Day 7/29: Anze Kopitar

Anže Kopitar

Born August 24, 1987 (age 23) in Jesenice, Slovenia (which was still Yugoslavia at the time)

Center/left wing and alternate captain for the Los Angeles Kings

I felt Man of the Day needed slightly more Western non-Chicago players, so why not show some love for the Kings? Kopitar, born in Slovenia, has something in common with fellow MotD honoree Zach Bogosian: both men are the first of their descents to play in the NHL. He started his playing career on his hometown team HK Acroni Jesenice (where his dad also played, so he’s just carrying on the tradition!) before moving to Sweden at 16 because Slovenia had no higher-level options for him and even playing in their Elitserien elite league for a few games. In fact, his dad, the current head coach for the Slovenian national hockey team, built a little rink in the backyard and little Anže would go out there starting at the age of four. Aww! Kopitar also learned English from his grandma, an English high school teacher, and he can speak five languages: Slovene, Serbian, Swedish, German and English. Wow!

He was the highest-ranked European skater in the 2005 draft, where LA selected him 11th overall. However, he wasn’t physically present at the draft. He was still over in Sweden playing preseason games. He stayed in Sweden for another year after being drafted too. In his debut game in 2006, he scored two goals. In that rookie year, he was so good that he was third in scoring (behind Evgeni Malkin and Paul Statsny) and was fourth in the voting totals for the Calder. In 2008, he went to the All-Star Game as the youngest player there. He’s been given many Kings-specific awards for being team MVP and most popular player, plus he’s represented Slovenia many times at the international competition level. This year he set a Kings record for most consecutive games played at 330 before having to sit some out with a broken ankle.

No, I salute you, sir!

 This season, Kopitar played 75 games, got 25 goals and 48 assists and spent 20 minutes in the sin bin. Although the Kings did make a quarterfinal playoffs appearance, he did not play because the broken ankle was a season-ender. That’s too bad. Here’s hoping that he’s had time this summer to rest and recuperate in lovely Los Angeles, perhaps by the beach or something. Maybe his family’s helping out, considering they all moved to LA to live with him. That’s sweet! He’s an LA powerhouse and will be interesting to watch in the future.

It certainly doesn't hurt that he looks like this in addition to being immensely talented!


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