Changing Of The Guard: LA Kings Name Anze Kopitar As New Captain

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar
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Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

LOS ANGELES — On June 17, the Los Angeles Kings made official what had been mostly a foregone conclusion for a few weeks…that right wing Dustin Brown was captain no more.

Indeed, the Kings announced a changing of the guard, with center Anze Kopitar being named their new captain.

Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi told the media during a conference call that the reasons for the change were two-fold. But he stressed that the primary reason was that it’s time to expand the horizons of other players and allow them further growth.

“There’s a number of things that go into this,” said Lombardi. “Number one, being a captain, there’s no doubt that you’re not only responsible for your own game, but 23 other players. That is an enormous responsibility. That’s an enormous amount of work to be responsible for twenty people. The second part of this—you know how I feel about culture and chemistry and the things that don’t necessarily show up on a chart, or anything of that nature. My feeling on this is that, at some point, there has to be an evolution in the growth of some of your other players, the players who have come through the system. It’s essentially their turn.”

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LA Kings Anze Kopitar: “It Only Comes Down To Winning Or Not.”

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — On April 22, the Los Angeles Kings gathered at their practice facility where they met with the local media, lamenting their first round playoff loss to the San Jose Sharks, who eliminated them in five games.

Even worse, although the scores were close in all but Game 5, there were long stretches in the other games where the Sharks dominated, at times, making the Kings look like they didn’t belong.

“Teams in this league are pretty good,” said center Anze Kopitar. “You can’t just think that you’re going to come in and just roll over everybody. I think San Jose was a good example. They just flat out played better hockey than we did. They got timely goals on their power play and we weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be on the penalty-kill and on the power play. That’s what usually makes the difference.”

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LA Kings Have Lots To Fix In Short Amount of Time Before Game 3 vs. San Jose

LA Kings forward Marian Gaborik
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Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — That the Los Angeles Kings are off to a dreadful start to the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs is not just surprising, but you could say that it is also understating the situation.

Sure, one could argue that they overcame greater odds in 2014 when they came all the way back from a 3-0 series deficit against the San Jose Sharks to win their first round playoff series, 4-3.

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Can LA Kings Flip The Switch In Time For First Round Matchup vs. San Jose?

LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
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Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings have been hard at work over the past couple of days, preparing for the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks, starting tonight at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

But if the way the Kings ended the season is any indication, they have some issues to correct before the post-season party begins. Otherwise, they’ll likely be booted from the party very, very early.

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LA Kings Anze Kopitar Is Finishing Very, Very Fast After A Slow Start

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Although one could easily make a case for Drew Doughty or Jonathan Quick as the biggest reason that the Los Angeles Kings have been one of the very best teams in the Western Conference this season, center Anze Kopitar can put in his own claim as well after putting the team on his back, especially in the last 42 games.

In his first 33 games (through Christmas), Kopitar scored nine goals and tallied eleven assists for twenty points, with a +10 plus/minus rating. But since that time, he has scored 15 goals and has contributed 32 assists for 47 points, with a +21 plus/minus rating.

If you do the math, Kopitar has almost tripled his assists (compared to the first 33 games), and has nearly doubled his points per game average to 1.14 since Christmas (0.61 through the first 33 games).

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