EL SEGUNDO, CA — Prior to Game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final on June 4, at Staples Center in Los Angeles, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, told CBC’s Ron MacLean that Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar “…is the third-best player in the National Hockey League.”
“I think Anze Kopitar, right now, is the third-best player in the National Hockey League, only behind [Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney] Crosby and [Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan] Toews, and he’s getting better every game,” said Gretzky, who played for the Kings from 1988-1995.
“To me, Kopitar’s the guy,” added Gretzky. “He plays defensively, he takes all the key face-offs, he can get the big goal and make big plays offensively.”
“I think this series could revolve around him. If he plays the way he can play, it’s going to be tough for the [New York] Rangers to combat that.”
Unaware of Gretzky’s praise until a reporter asked him about it, Kopitar was a bit flabbergasted.
“I’ll take any compliment from that guy,” he said, with a sheepish grin. “Even if he said I was fifth in the rankings, I would’ve taken it.”
“It’s obviously very nice to hear things like that—I heard it for the first time right now,” he added. I didn’t really pay attention to anything after [Game 1].”
“It’s nice to hear it, but I can’t really get caught up in that stuff.”
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