LOS ANGELES — On January 16, the National Hockey League got its third $10 million man this season.
Prior to their game against the Ottawa Senators at Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 16, the Los Angeles Kings announced that they have signed star center Anze Kopitar to an eight-year contract extension, a deal that has a reported average annual value of $10 million per season.
As first reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger, Kopitar’s deal is heavily front-loaded, paying him $14 million the first year, $13 million the second year, $12 million the third year and $11 million in the fourth year. After that, he will earn $8 million in each of the next two years followed by $7 million in each of the final two years of the contract.
Dreger also reported that the extension includes a no-movement clause for the first four years of the deal, and a limited no-trade clause for the final four years.
As first reported by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the contract extension also includes a $9 million bonus, payable on July 1, 2016, and another $9 million bonus, payable on July 1, 2017.
Following their 5-3 collapse against the Senators, Kopitar sat in his dressing room stall, waiting for the local media.
“It’s obviously a great feeling, knowing that I can be a part of this team for years to come now,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve expressed throughout the process, that I’d like to stay here. Now that it’s finalized, there’s some sort of relief, and it’s a nice feeling.”
“It’s a business, and sometimes, things drag on a little bit longer than you’d like, but now, again, it’s nice to have it finalized,” he added. “I would’ve liked to have gotten it done before the season so that it would’ve been [done already]. But I realize that it’s a business. It’s a process. When two parties collide like that, it can go longer. But it’s done now. I’m very happy about it.”
“You always have a plan going in. We stuck to the plan, and I’m very satisfied with what I ended up with.”
Kopitar indicated that, despite how long the negotiations wore on, there was never a time when he was worried about a deal with the Kings not being reached.
“I didn’t really have any doubts,” he stressed. “I didn’t know, but I was hoping it was going to get done, and I was leaning towards [it getting done] than doubting [that it would].”
Being able to stay with the Kings for what would likely be his entire career was of particular appeal for Kopitar.
“I’ve expressed that I’d like to stay here for a longer period of time,” he noted. “Eight years being the maximum [length for a contract extension], we’ve definitely accomplished that.”
Seeing the Kings being able to keep many of their key players in their stable was also a factor.
“Drew [Doughty’s] contract is coming up, but [almost] everybody else is, at least somewhat locked up,” said Kopitar. “A lot of guys are staying here for an extended period of time. I’m happy to sign, knowing that I’m going to stay here for a little while longer.”
But in the end, winning was the biggest factor.
“I’ve been a part of this organization when we went through pretty big struggles and not-very-fun years,” he noted “We turned that around, and the last few years have been pretty exciting for everybody. Last year was not the year we wanted, but still, we were right there, in the mix.”
“Knowing that we have a winning team here makes you want to stay here for an extended period of time. It’s definitely nice knowing that there’s an eight-year plan ahead—somewhat of a plan. You never know what going to happen, but in a perfect world, if everything goes according to my plan, and the team’s plan, that sense of security is very nice.”
Going forward, Kopitar emphasized that the contract extension will not impact him on the ice.
“For me, it’s not going to change my game,” he emphasized. “It’s not going to change my mindset. It’s the same way. It’s be the best you can be and help your team win.”
Head coach Darryl Sutter said that the contract extension was well worth it for the Kings.
“The bottom line for a guy like Kopitar is that his best years are in front of him,” he emphasized. “Guys get rewarded for winning Stanley Cups, and when they’re with one franchise for that period of time, and you’ve won Cups, everybody’s looking forward to the next part with him.”
“It’s a lot [of money],” he added. “If you think about when the salary cap years started, that [amount] was what the whole cap was. [But] he’s worth every penny of it. It’s got nothing to do that. You win championships with players like that. It’s very clear. He’s worth every penny.”
As an aside, when asked what the most he was paid in a season was, Sutter initially balked at answering the question. But then he said, “They get more in one check than we used to get in a whole year.”
Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi was traveling on January 16, and was unavailable for comment.
LEAD PHOTO: Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, shown here at the team’s 2012 Stanley Cup Championship celebration at Staples Center in Los Angeles.. Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography.
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