As it was announced during tonight’s game between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings captain Anzy Kopetar has been named this year’s winner of the Marc Messier NHL Leadership Award. The award is given to “the player who embodies the great leadership qualities of his team, on and off the ice, during the regular season and who plays a leading role in his community that grows the game of hockey.”
Kopitar became the second player in L.A. Kings history to win the award, joining Dustin Brown in 2014. To determine the winner, Messier takes suggestions and nominations from across the NHL, across the team and league staff, to compile a list of nominees worthy of the award. From there, the overall winner is chosen by Messier alone.
“I am so grateful to be a part of the hockey community, you have given me so much and I feel humbled and honored just to be in the hockey game,” Kopetar said during his acceptance speech, shown below. “He has been fantastic and with that, I just want to thank everyone in my circle, starting at the top with Mr. and Mrs. Anschutz and the entire LA Kings organization. Ben Locke [Robitaille] And Rob Blake, they have developed me into a better man than I was 16 years ago, obviously the fans in LA are so excited, so loud, we were able to get back to the playoffs which was really fun for them and last but not least, my family. From top to bottom, my grandparents, my parents and now my family too, with two good kids in the house keeping me humble all the time. I learn a lot from them too, and of course my wife, who keeps everything in check when I’m gone and when I’m home. It’s great to have a support system like that and it wouldn’t be possible without any of them.”
Kopitar is one of two players in NHL history to have won both the Selke Trophy and Mark Messier for Leadership (Patrice Bergeron) and is the only player in league history to have won the Selke Trophy, Messier and Lady Byng throughout his career.
Upon the announcement during the first break for today’s Rangers-Lightning match, Kopetar joined ESPN telecasts for an interview with Messier, a member of the break committee, to accept the award.
While he was not included in the release, Kopetar demonstrated his leadership qualities during Dustin Brown’s last regular season match. Kopitar came up with the idea of having Brown wear a “C” during his last game of the regular season in Vancouver, with Kopitar wearing Brown’s usual “A” in honor of the longtime Kings captain.
“Yes, I think it is fitting, the long-serving man who lifted the trophy wearing a ‘C’,” said Kings Head coach Todd McLellan of Kopetar’s act. It wasn’t driven by management or driven by the coach, it just goes to show how tight these individuals are and what they mean to each other. A very honorable thing.”
Kopitar to accept the award and develop the game in Southern California
First of all thank you for the award, it is a great honor. We’re all trying to develop the game and between the Los Angeles Kings and I, I think we’ve done a good job here at So-Cal, with the help of the Anaheim Ducks team, just spreading the game all over So-Cal. I think we are doing a good job.
Kopetar at the Youth Hockey Academy in Slovenia
for myself back home [in Slovenia]I’ve been able to host a hockey academy for a number of years and I’m very proud of this academy. We covered quite a few countries so word got out and last year we covered 13 countries so kids come and want to learn and start playing hockey.
The Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award is given to a player who exemplifies the great leadership qualities of his team, on and off the ice during the regular season.Tweet embed I sat down with Mark Messier to give thanks and discuss his impact on the hockey community. #NHLAwards pic.twitter.com/P66s7XukOw
– NHL (NHL) June 2, 2022
From the official NHL statement –
Kopitar has been a prominent face of the franchise since his arrival in Los Angeles in 2006, helping lead the Kings to unprecedented success on the ice and proudly representing the club in the community.
The 34-year-old led the team in scoring for the fifth consecutive season and for the 14th time in his 16 National Hockey League campaigns with 19-48-67 in 81 games, helping the club return to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 and scoring Her best record since 2015-16. He is one of only two players in NHL history to lead his team in scoring as many as 14 times, surpassed only by Jordi Howe (17 times with the Detroit Red Wings).
He has served as a team captain since 2016-2017, and has also been voted by his teammates as the winner of the Ace Bailey Memorial Award (Most Inspirational Player) in both the 2019-20 and 2020-20 pandemic shortened seasons.
As a spokesperson and contributor to many group fundraising events throughout the year, Kopitar strives to represent the organization at every opportunity. He has been involved in a number of community programs, and has generously volunteered his time with local organizations that include Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the Make a Wish Foundation, Wags and Walks, and the Kings Care Foundation.
Kopetar also hosts a hockey academy every year in his native Slovenia, where the Kings’ first-round pick of 2005 is widely recognized as the greatest player in the nation’s history. The academy serves aspiring young players, inspired by the pioneering career forged by Copetar, who may not have access to similar programmes. The academy typically attracts approximately 200 players annually, and has drawn players from over 15 countries.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion (2012 and 2014) has been added to his silver roster of individual NHL awards which includes the Frank Silk Cup in 2016 and 2018 (Best Defensive Striker) and the Lady Bing Memorial Cup in 2016 (Sportsmanship and Skill). Kopitar is joined by longtime teammate Dustin Brown (2013-14) as the Kings receive Messier’s honour.
A full list of past Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award winners, plus more information about the award, Available here.