Matjaz Kopitar on Anze, Olympics - LA Kings Insider

Anze Kopitar’s father, Matjaz, has joined the Kings in what is his third father’s trip with the team.

“I’m an old veteran already here,” he said.

As a retired player and the current coach of the Slovenian national hockey team, Matjaz is able to offer an interesting, discerning evaluation on the play of Anze – which he’ll be relying heavily upon once the 2014 Winter Olympics are underway. Following the Kings’ practice at the SAP Center on Tuesday, I chatted with Matjaz about the Vancouver game, as well as his expectations once Slovenia arrives in Sochi and is placed in a pool with the United States, Slovakia, and hosts Russia.

On aspects of Anze’s game as a youth that he still sees in the now-26-year-old:
I think there’s still passion. I think he still loves the game the same as he did when he was young. That’s what makes him successful, because I think you need to love the game if you want to be successful. I think that’s probably the thing.

On his immediate reaction to Anze’s overtime game-winner in Vancouver:
I was actually happy because they won the game, because Vancouver is always a tough opponent. It’s kind of a rivalry…since I’ve followed this team. When he scored, it’s OK, it’s nice. I’m not going to say that I was without any nice feelings, but like I said, the most important is to win the game, no matter who scores.

On his message to the Slovenian team come February:
It’s tough. The top 12 teams in the world, with all NHLers – that’s going to be a really great experience for all our boys. They have a big respect, of course, but I think we can be competitive if we’re going to be at our top level, because I’ve said many times already [that] we need to give more than a hundred percent to be competitive against these teams. I’m sure the boys will, because this is the biggest stage for them, anyway.

On opening the Olympic Tournament against Russia:
I’m sure the boys are going to have big eyes, of course. It’s going to be a full house, opening night against the home team. It’s going to be something special for sure, but we have our plans already, and we’re going to try and do our best.

On how he plans on using Anze:
Oh, he’s going to play in a lot of situations. So that’s not a secret. A lot of power play, penalty kill, helping out the team, leadership. I think because they are good friends, no matter that he is the star, the boys, they follow him always. They’re going to be competitive, I can say that.

On the level of excitement for the Olympic tournament back home:

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#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

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Born: December 21, 1993
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

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Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
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Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


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Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


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