Anze Kopitar – he’s back with thoughts from Sochi

Comments from Kings forward Anze Kopitar following the team’s practice on Monday. It was his return to TSC, after playing for his native Slovenia during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

On his overall Olympic experience:

“It was obviously very positive, for me personally, and most importantly for the team. I think we did really well, we opened up some eyes to the hockey world. It was a lot of fun.”

On leaving the game when he was sick:

“Yeah, it was just something with the food. It didn’t sit well in my stomach, and it had to come out in a certain way- and it did. The food was good, it just must have been something I ate and couldn’t digest it.”

On if he met and exceeded his personal Olympic expectations:

“Yeah, they were definitely exceeded. I don’t think anybody from our team and our country thought that we were going to make it to the quarterfinals. We felt good. I think the first game against Russia, I think we were a little bit starstruck. The guys, including myself, we weren’t used to playing in the big venues like the Olympics is in. They came out, they scored a couple of early goals, but after that I thought we did pretty well against them. Then the next game against Slovakia, that was game we circled on our calendar when the schedule game up. We were thinking to maybe grab a point of steer the puck, but we ended up beating them pretty good, so it was a big accomplishment.”

On playing against Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick:

“Well Quickie didn’t play and he wasn’t even on the bench, so that was  a bummer. Brownie was out there, and it was a little bit weird at first, but as soon as you step out on the ice, it doesn’t really matter who you’re playing against. You just want to do as best as you can.”

On Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter winning a gold medal with Team Canada:

“It was great. drew has done it two times in a row now, so he’s used to that. They both did really well. It’s one of those things where you kind of follow them. Brownie and Quickie and Slav for that matter, too. I thought they played really well.”

On if he wants NHL players to be able to play next Winter Olympics:

“I hope we can. It happens every four years so we have time to decompress. I know travel is not the greatest, but I think the NHL and the PA did a fantastic job of organizing everything. Even the accommodations for the families and for the family members and everybody. I guess I do hope we are going to play again. I would have been pretty upset if we qualified again and I wouldn’t be able to go. This was the first time that we qualified and we were able to go. It was a lot of fun and I definitely want to do it again as an athlete.”

On his concerns about getting back into his routine:

“I don’t know. I don’t have any concerns. I’ve been playing quite a bit over the break too, I guess. We’ve done it before, all the guys are experienced enough that they have breaks like that and everybody, personally, knows what they have to do to get ready again.”

On if he was able to watch other events:

“No. I couldn’t because our schedule was so compressed and we played five games in seven days. Couldn’t really do it. Even when we did play, our game were mostly at noon, so it was right in middle of the day, can’t do anything after either. That was a little bit of a downside to that, but overall it was a great experience.”

On what about Slovenia produces excellent athletes:

“I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I think we ended up with eight medals. In percentage of population, we were the second best country, so that’s pretty phenomenal for us. We’ve had some Olympic gold medalist in summer sports, too, so I don’t know what to tell you in that regard. Just good talent, I guess.”

On [???] on the slopes:

“Yeah, well she’s been incredible the last couple of years. She’s been winning World Cups left and right. She broke the record last year in total points in World Cups, so that was pretty impressive. There’s really no surprise she got the two golds.”

On if it’s more difficult to have a break and come back or come back after paying a hard tournament:

“I guess I’ll find out. I’ve had enough time off the last couple of days where you get away from the rink a little bit, don’t have to gear up, and refresh the mind a bit. I don’t think it really matters what you do, if you play games or not. It’s just a matter of preparation and starting off again.”

On what the Kings need to get back to their expectations:

“Just play our game. We were successful before and we can be successful again. It’s a matter of doing the stuff that has made us successful and go from there.”

On if more kids will start playing hockey in Slovenia after the country’s Olympic debut:

“We hope so. We have 150 registered players and seven rinks. So hopefully we can expand that base a little bit. I guess the last couple of years, some good stuff has been happening with us winning the Stanley Cup and people watching that back home and the team qualifying for the Olympics and now this result at the Olympics. So hopefully more and more kids are going to start playing.”

On his father coaching on a national stage:

“Yeah, he took over that team give years ago. One of his main goals was to make the Olympics. Everybody thought he was borderline crazy when he said that goal. The players believed in that but the outside world were kind of skeptics. I think he shut them up quite good and he definitely did a lot for our hockey and he’s going to continue to do that if he ends up being the coach again. I was very proud to see him stand behind the bench.”

On if his father wants to coach in the NHL:

“I don’t think he’d turn it down if he got the offer. I don’t know is he has any offers yet or not.”

On the NHL not wanting players to get hurt during the Olympics:

“It’s not like we want to get injured at the Olympics, either. I don’t know, it’s a part of the game. You can block a shot in any game, you can block a shot in practice and get injured. I guess because you’re at home and everybody knows what’s going on, but at the same time I think everybody obviously wants to play for their country and on a stage like the Olympics are.”

On if he expects some chirping from Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter:

“Well they didn’t play us, so they can’t really give me shit.”

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