Last week, former L.A. Kings great Marcel Dionne had some harsh words for Anze Kopitar.
“Kopitar’s is at the point in his career where he has to decide what he wants to do,” Dionne said, before unfavorably comparing L.A.’s leading scorer to Mats Sundin. “He needs a wake-up call.”
This week, Kopitar responded.
“Could it be better? Absolutely,” Kopitar told Mayors Manor when asked to analyze his play. “I do feel I can put a little more into my game. It hasn’t been [recently] where it’s been at times [in the past].
“I know I can dominate games and lead the team by example, definitely. It’s just a matter of doing it every night. That’s a challenge for me.”
At first glance, Kopitar’s season hasn’t been horrible. He’s posted 55 points in 65 games which, given L.A.’s anemic offense, is a pretty decent total (he’s on pace for 69 points this season.)
But with a whopping $6.8 million cap hit — Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Toews and the Sedins all cost less — Kopitar knows much more is expected of him.
“I want to win in this league and that’s what I want to be known for, is making key plays at key times and big plays and scoring big goals,” he explained. “If it’s the 25th or the 35th [goal], it doesn’t really matter. As long as we play up to our potential and are winning games, that’s going to make me a better player and be known around the league for that.”
Overall, Kopitar seemed unfazed by Dionne’s criticisms.
(Note: Dionne actually works for L.A. as a Royal Ambassador, “a new and important outreach initiative of the Kings business operations division that includes the Kings’ Fan Development and Community Relations departments.” Because nothing says ambassador like carving the team’s leading scorer!)
“It’s not that I don’t care, but I try not to let it affect me,” Kopitar said. “There’s a lot of guys around the league. Some guys like you, some guys don’t like you.
“I think if every player, not just me, read all of the things written and cared or got frustrated with all the comments, I don’t think it would be very good psychologically for anybody.”