EL SEGUNDO, CA — As reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie, the Los Angeles Kings and star center Anze Kopitar are apparently on the verge of agreeing to a reported eight-year contract with an annual average value of $10 million per season.
A Kings spokesperson told the local media that an announcement could come today or on Thursday.
But Kopitar wasn’t about to confirm anything after today’s practice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.
“[There’s] nothing new,” he said. “Things are moving along. I don’t know where the finish line is. We’ll see how quickly we move, but things are moving.”
While answering questions from the media, Kopitar hinted that a deal was imminent, if you read between the lines.
Kopitar indicated that the ongoing contract negotiations wore on him, and that they were a bit of a distraction.
“I didn’t experience that before, with my first contract,” he said. “It was a little bit easier my first time around. This time, it is what it is. But yeah, if it was too much of a distraction for me—I don’t know if I showed it or not, but I don’t think it was the biggest part of my start this year. I wouldn’t say that’s what it was.”
“It’s always there,” he added. “People are always asking about it, and as much as you want to forget about it, you’re constantly reminded of it, so it’s a little hard. But after that, I just realized that it’s not going to do me any good to worry about that stuff. I literally did put it away and [stopped] worrying about it.”
Social media, especially Twitter, wasn’t nearly as big when Kopitar signed his first contract extension as it is now, and that added to the distraction this time around.
“You guys know how Twitter works,” he said. “Everybody’s constantly tweeting at you, messaging you, and everything. Part of it is that, part of it is just your closest buddies want to know what’s going on. When’s the news going to come out? It’s constant reminders all the time, so it kind of wears down on you. But it’s easier to tell your buddies to wait. I’ll tell them when it’s all said and done. But with the [addition] of the Twitter world, it’s a lot different.”
Kopitar indicated that he has been in on the developments in his contract negotiations from the beginning, adding that he has always been in tune with his agent, Pat Brisson.
“Between me and Pat, it’s definitely a two-way street,” he noted. “Agents, in general, are trying to protect players, which I get, totally. At the same time, I’ve definitely expressed my thoughts, and everything, so he knows what I think. We’ve been on the same page, right from the get-go. There was never a question about that, where he was pushing more [in one direction], and I was pushing [in another direction]. We were always on the same page.”
“We talk all the time,” he added. “It’s one of those things where he’s got to keep me posted on what’s going on from his side, and I’ve got to keep him posted. I certainly wanted to know everything that was on his mind, and I let everything out regarding what was on my mind.”
“That’s the only way you can go into this, or any negotiation. We have to be on the same page with everything that’s going on so there’s no uncertainty.”
Kopitar added that there was never a time when he was concerned that a contract agreement might not be reached.
“Maybe it was a little naive thinking [that the deal would be signed quickly], but I always thought that someday, somehow, everything was going to turn around, and go for the better,“ he said. “I never really thought about this not getting done.”
“It’s been going on for the past five months, anyway, so I just put it away,” he added. “It’s easier said than done, but I just put it away. It happens when it happens, really.”
Evidence of Kopitar “putting it away” has been his often-dominant play over the last 23 games in which he has scored seven goals and has contributed 20 assists for 27 points, with a +9 plus/minus rating.
“He’s taken it up a few notches, showing why he’s one of the best centermen in the league,” said left wing Milan Lucic. “When he has the puck, it’s almost like he’s in the zone, where he’s more of a threat when he has the puck on his stick. You know he’s going to make something happen.”
“That’s been the way it’s been since the Christmas break,” added Lucic. “It seems like he’s having a lot of fun playing the way he has lately. It’s nice to be on his line, seeing him doing his thing. His everyday wanting to be the best player on the ice is something you like to see from your top player. It’s one of his best attributes.”
Defenseman Alec Martinez shared similar thoughts.
“It’s no secret that a lot of guys have tried to pick up the leadership aspect, and Kopi’s always done that,” he said. “He’s starting to take it to another level.”
“It’s awesome to see how the guy controls the pace of the game,” he added. “He can do everything. He’s fun to watch, and even more fun to play with. I think he’s one of the best players in the world. He maybe just doesn’t get enough credit because of where we are, geographically.”
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar. Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net.
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