Posted by: emmaharger | October 21, 2011

Man of the Day 10/21: Tomas Kopecky

Tomáš Kopecký

Born February 5, 1982 (age 29) in Ilava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia)

Center/right wing and alternate captain for the Florida Panthers

(Please note that it was nigh-impossible for me to find a Panthers photo in which he is fully visible and not, say, crashing into someone’s net. A Blackhawks photo will have to do.)

Kopecky started out playing junior for the Dukla Trencin team in Slovakia, which boasts other notable alumni such as Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik. While playing for the Trencin team, he was drafted 38th overall in 2000 by Detroit. Now in the NHL system, he went and did two junior years with the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL, a year with the old Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and moved to the Grand Rapids Griffins. With the Griffins, he spent four years before appearing in a Red Wings game–just one for 2005-06, then up to 26 the next year because of injury. He also switched his number from 28 to 82 when the team got Brian Rafalski. Hey, that’s easy! Although he didn’t play a postseason game, he was with Detroit when they won their Stanley Cup in 2008. Then, in July 2009, he signed a two-year, $1.2 million/year deal with Chicago and became a Blackhawk. In his first season in Chicago, he had his most productive time of it, netting 21 points, 28 penalty minutes and 2 game-winning goals. He continued being helpful in the postseason, getting a game-winning goal in game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and earning a spot in the lineup for each finals game. Of course, that ended well, so he’s hoisted the Cup twice in his life!

 

Sharing the Cup with Marian Hossa. They're like brothers from another mother!

 He spent the next season on the Blackhawks’ top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, spending twice the time on the ice than previously. This most recent season produced career highs in games played, goals, assists, shots, points and penalty minutes and marked his fifth year on a playoff-bound squad. (He played 81 games, got 15 goals, 27 assists and 60 penalty minutes in the regular season.) However, he didn’t play much in the playoffs this time after being injured in game 1 against Vancouver and not returning before Chicago was eliminated. He was going to become a free agent on July 1, but on June 27 Chicago traded him to the Florida Panthers in return for a 7th round pick in either the 2012 or 2013 draft. Florida signed him to a 4-year, $12 million deal at the end of June. With Florida, he has played all six games so far and is one of their four alternate captains, since they do not have an official captain at this time. He’s also represented Slovakia at the U18 Worlds, World Juniors, Worlds and the 2010 Olympics. Clearly Florida has chosen him for a leadership role because of all the experience he brings to the table.

And his occasional feats of acrobatics.

 -Emma


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