Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar is the 2021-22 recipient of the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, which is presented "to the player who exemplifies great leadership qualities to his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season and who plays a leading role in his community growing the game of hockey."
Messier solicits suggestions from team and League personnel to compile a list of potential candidates for the award. However, the selection of the winner is Messier's alone.
Kopitar has been a prominent face of the franchise since arriving in Los Angeles in 2006, helping lead the Kings to unprecedented success on the ice and taking pride in representing the club in the community.
The 34-year-old center led the team in scoring for the fifth consecutive season and for the 14th time in his 16 NHL campaigns with 19-48--67 in 81 games, helping the club return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 and post its best record since 2015-16. He is one of just two players in NHL history to lead his club in scoring as many as 14 times, surpassed only by Gordie Howe (17 times with the Detroit Red Wings).
Serving as captain since 2016-17, he also was voted by teammates as the Ace Bailey Memorial Award winner (most inspirational player) in both pandemic-shortened seasons of 2019-20 and 2020-21.
As a spokesperson and contributor in several team fundraising events throughout the year, Kopitar strives to represent the organization at every opportunity. He has participated in a number of community programs, generously volunteering his time to local institutions that include the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, Make a Wish Foundation, Wags and Walks and the Kings Care Foundation.
Kopitar also hosts a hockey academy each year in his native Slovenia, where the Kings' 1st-round draft pick from 2005 is widely recognized as the greatest player in the nation's history. The academy serves aspiring youth players, inspired by the trailblazing career Kopitar has forged, who may not have access to similar programs. Typically attracting nearly 200 players per year, the academy has drawn players from more than 15 countries.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion (2012 and 2014) has added to his collection of individual NHL Awards silverware that includes the Frank Selke Trophy in 2016 and 2018 (top defensive forward) and Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2016 (sportsmanship & skill). Kopitar joins longtime teammate Dustin Brown (2013-14) as Kings players receiving Messier honors.
For more on the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, including a list of past winners, click here.