For Kings fans, the happiest sight of Hockey Fest might well have been that of Anze Kopitar walking onto the carpeted-over ice surface this morning. No crutches, no walking boot. Kopitar, whose season ended in late March after a serious injury — he broke his leg and tore a ligament — has been skating for the past month and is expected to fully participate in training camp when on-ice sessions begin Saturday.
KOPITAR: “The rehab went really well, and I’ve been skating a bit here lately. For a month and a half, actually. So it feels good, 100 percent.”
Question: Was there ever a point when you were worried about missing the start of training camp?
KOPITAR: “No. Willy [Justin Williams] had the same injury last year and he came back in, what, 2 1/2 months or so? So I knew I had plenty of time. I didn’t want to push it too hard. I wanted to be fairly aggressive but not over-the-top aggressive, to where I damaged the ankle again. The Kings’ medical staff, they did a great job, the conditioning coach. We’ve been working, we’ve been in contact for pretty much the whole summer obviously. The bottom line is that I feel good now, and I feel 100 percent.”
Question: How long have you been able to skate without any pain?
KOPITAR: “For like a month now. It’s not really a pain (issue). It’s more just an uncomfortable feeling because it’s a little swollen, but the doctor said it takes up to a year to get the swelling down. That’s normal, so I’m not concerned with that. Injury-wise, I haven’t had any pain since I started skating. It just feels a little stiff, because it’s bigger obviously. I’m sure I’m going to make a couple adjustments to my skate.”
Question: What is your expectation level for this season?
KOPITAR: “If I go back to last year, and the first round of the playoffs, it kind of felt really bitter after we got out. We kind of said to ourselves, not knowing who was going to come and who was going to go, that we’ve got to take the next step. Now, with Mike (Richards) and (Simon) Gagne and Ethan (Moreau) and Colin (Fraser), the team, I think, has gotten better and so the expectations are higher. We definitely want to prove that to everybody else too.”