The Kings agreed to an eight-year contract extension with Anze Kopitar on Saturday, cementing the forward in Los Angeles through the end of the 2023-’24 season.
Kopitar, the first NHL player to hail from Slovenia, was drafted by the Kings in the first round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft with the #11 overall selection.
He quickly became a household name among Kings fans, scoring two goals in his NHL debut against the Anaheim Ducks at the-then Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim on October 10, 2006. Finishing his Rookie season with 61 points, Kopitar became the first player since Luc Robitaille in 1987 to surpass the 60-point mark.
The 28 year-old came to Los Angeles during some rather dark years the franchise was enduring, but was consistently a bright spot in the organization, a player the team and its fans became closer attached to as the years progressed.
Countless moments come to mind when looking back on Kopitar’s career in a Kings uniform:
As we’ve come to see from Kopitar, it’s not always his scoring that wows us. On December 27, 2010, late in what was to be a 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at the-then HP Pavilion, Kopitar lifted an air-mail pass to Dustin Brown to set up the Kings’ fourth goal of the night.
On a chilly night at the TD Banknorth Garden on January 30, 2010, Kopitar absolutely burned Boston’s Tim Thomas with a gorgeous Peter Forsberg-like goal, leading the way in what was eventually a Kings 3-2 SO victory.
After struggling through a stretch of six losses in seven games in November of 2010, the Kings regrouped to surge for nine wins in their next 12, which was kick-started by Kopitar’s wondrous OT-winner on December 4 against Detroit, a one-time shot very few in the game could pull off.
Kopitar netted his first-career NHL hat-trick against the Dallas Stars on October 22, 2009, a 5-4 OT Kings win. Kopitar scored the first goal of the game, then added a pair in the second period.
The Kings rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the third period of their game against the Dallas Stars on November 10, 2007, scoring five goals in a 5:07 minute span. In OT, with the score dead-locked at 5-5, Kopitar, driving to the net from the left circle, beat Dallas’ Marty Turco to secure one of the most memorable comebacks in Kings history.
In what was his second-career hat-trick, Kopitar wasted no time in finding the back of the net three times, recording his feat by the game’s midway mark. His third goal came on an excellent read from Dustin Brown, who delivered a long-distance pass as Kopitar exited the penalty box.
WHAT A DEBUT
In his NHL debut on October 10, 2006, Kopitar scored a pair of goals in the second period in a 2:12 minute span. Kopitar’s first came as he drove Chris Pronger wide to the right, then cut across to beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere from a difficult angle.
In Game 2 of the Kings’ Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks in 2010, Kopitar’s OT goal lifted the franchise to their first playoff victory in eight years. Kopitar’s goal tied the series at 1-1.
SHORT AND SWEET
Arguably the most-impressive looking goal of his career, Kopitar shoot Brian Elliott out of his skates with his shorthanded marker in Game 2 of the Kings’ 2012 Western Conference Semifinal series against the St. Louis Blues.
In Game 7 of the Kings’ 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the San Jose Sharks, Anze Kopitar broke a 1-1 tie with his enormous goal during the final moments of the second period. Kopitar’s goal proved to be the game-winner, securing the Kings’ fourth-straight win of the series, completing their 0-3 deficit.
EVERYBODY WANTS A HERO
Kopitar iced Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final at the Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils, beating Martin Brodeur with a slick move after hopping on a Justin Williams pass and into a clear path to give the franchise their second victory in a Stanley Cup Final series.