The Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar added to his legacy as one of the greatest players in team history. At last night’s NHL Awards, he was named the winner of the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league.
This is his second time winning the award; his first one coming in 2016. It was a turnaround season for himself and the LA Kings, especially after regime changes made during the offseason.
Kopitar was given the captaincy last season and that may have changed the way he played. When the season was over, it wound up being his worst statistical season since his rookie season in 2007. The veteran center took the poor season personally and made sure to help turn around the Kings’ fortunes.
Kopitar Turns Things Around
His game went up another notch, becoming the first Kings player to garner 90 points since Wayne Gretzky in 1994. While picking up his offense, he continued playing his strong defensive game. The Slovenian averaged the most ice time on shorthanded shifts among Kings forwards and had the best face-off percentage in his own zone.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 21, 2018
He won the award comfortably. He beat out the Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron, a four-time winner, and the Philadelphia Flyers’ Sean Couturier, a first-time finalist. The 30-year-old garnered 70 first place votes to Couturier’s 37 who finished second.
The Kings’ center was trying to become the first player since Sergei Fedorov in 1994 to win both the Selke and Hart Trophy, as the league’s most valuable player. Only Gretzky had ever won the Hart while with the Kings and that occured back in 1989.
Kopitar finished third behind winner Taylor Hall of the New Jersey Devils and Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. Despite being significantly more important to his team on both ends of the ice in all situations than both Hall and McKinnon, the hockey writers only gave Kopitar 11 first place votes. Further cementing that east coast voters weren’t watching Kings games.
Other Kings at the NHL Awards
The Kings were also represented at the awards show by goalie Jonathan Quick, who was there with back-up Jack Campbell. Quick was recognized by the league as the William Jennings Trophy winner, given to the goalie who gave up the fewest goals in the league. It was the second Jennings Trophy for Quick.
Drew Doughty was a finalist for Norris Trophy awarded to the league’s best defensemen but was not present at the awards show due to a conflict in his schedule. He finished second to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman, it was Doughty’s second time being a runner-up for the award he won in 2016.