Love For Our Heart & Soul Centers, Anze Kopitar & Mike Richards

The term “heart and soul” player doesn’t get thrown around too often.

You can have a skilled player, a tough one, a grinder, speedster, sniper, playmaker or other words that quantify or describe talent but the term “heart and soul”, similar to “warrior”, is reserved for a select few. Heart and soul refers to a complete player that competes on both ends of the ice, is the model of work ethic, leads by example, has the skill set and toughness to play on any line and is looked upon by the team, fans and media as the face of the franchise.

Most teams would by lucky to have one.

We have two.

Anze Kopitar is a superstar. Not a star. Not a great player. He is elite. He came into his own last season with a compliment of offensive and defensive prowess that made him our most valuable player. This season, he is better in every respect. He has, at times, carried the offense. When the puck is on his stick, a play will develop therefrom. I see defenders back off. I see opposing forwards leave a gap and pause to see if Kopitar will make a pass, shoot or hold the puck. In other words, opposing teams are caught “watching him”, something one generally sees when an elite NHL player carries the play. This comes from hesitancy, not knowing how to defend him and afraid to make a mistake that will cause the puck to land in the back of their net. Anze isn’t going to run anyone over but is tough as nails. He isn’t even going to blow by the opposing defender with blazing speed but has a quick first step for a big guy and excellent mid range speed. He uses his size. He has developed an edge and, more than ever, he has lost that shyness about the offensive attack mentality. I don’t view Kopi as a pass first player anymore. Now, when he has the puck, he is the center of attention.

Mike Richards has been a Los Angeles King for all of one summer and a month of regular season play. Philadelphia Flyers captain, proclaimed by most Flyers fans as the face of the franchise, I admittedly had very high expectations which almost always sets me up for disappointment. Disappointed? Hell no. I couldn’t be happier. 11 points in 15 games is nice but that’s not enough for heart and soul. Mike Richards never stops skating. He is captain hustle. On offense, the moment he has the puck, he and it are headed to the net. In the corners, he will take on one, two, or three opponents to come out with the puck. He looks for seams to make tape to tape passes and connects far more often than he misses. On the penalty kill, well, as I tweeted yesterday, he is not a penalty killer, he is a penalty murderer. Richards against 5 opponents is only a bit unfair…to the 5. I take special pleasure knowing that he has only played 15 games with the Kings. That means he will only get better. I love Mike Richards and everything he does.


Categories: L.A. Kings News

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18 replies

  1. … Yeah, I hate to interrupt another love song and all but the Lightning and Flyers are proceeding to ruin the sport of hockey today, as Tampa’s running their 1-3-1 horseshit and the Flyers are mocking it by playing catch in their defensive zone or just standing there laughing, and the fans rightfully pissed all over it, and the refs had to blow the whistle at least a couple times in order to look sternly at coaches not named Terry Murray.

    • I love Philly mocking that system, and I hope other teams do the same. Do we really have to watch this thing play out over the next 5 years and wait for league sanctions and rule changes to “bring scoring back” again? A team with Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis shouldn’t be the one doing this.

      • Didn’t see the game, but I can imagine what happened, and I think I love it that someone finally exposed this crappy system that is slowly starting to ruin the game (just like the trap).

        Hopefully this is the straw that breaks the camels back, and they find some way to get rid of this system. I’m drawing blanks on how to do it though.

    • I keep hearing about this 1-3-1 play/system. What is it exactly?

      • I keep hearing about this 1-3-1 play/system. What is it exactly?

        … It looks roughly like this:

        —————————————————- <– blue line

        — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — <– red line
        X X X

        —————————————————- <– blue line

        Now, the 1-3-1 isn't a new thing. It's been around for years. What Tampa did, under orders from Guy Boucher, is turning it into absolute shit by not forechecking at all. Nothing. They’re literally just standing around in the neutral zone, waiting for the other team to bring the puck up the ice. Mind you, the score was tied. It’s not like the Lightning were protecting a lead. Anyway, the Flyers noticed it, and obviously Peter Laviolette instructed them to just stand there in the defensive zone and wait it out.

        Now, the issue is – who to penalize for this? The Flyers are certainly not obligated to bring the puck up ice in a tie game, nor are the Lightning obligated to forecheck – BUT, the players are obligated to keep the game moving, else they are delaying the game, which is a penalty. I suppose that’s my solution: penalize one player on each team for delay of game, classify it as a bench minor, and resume play with four skaters per side. If the delay somehow continues, penalize another player on each side. I don’t think it’s right to outlaw zone defense; that opens up a pandora’s box. Zones are fine as long as players are playing and the game isn’t being delayed.

      • … Damn. Well, here is a better illustration of it.

        • Ahh got it. Thanks for explaining. I also just saw a video of what happened. Bone head play by both teams imo. Just play the game. The fans paid money to see hockey not a staring contest.

        • I definately don’t blame Philly for doing it, because that isn’t part of their system to just hang out. It is Tampa’s system though, and I was laughing my ass off when they did it.

          Fuck Tampa for standing around, then complaining when Philly did it. Very few times in a season do you see a team make a statement together that is just absolute genius.

          It’s not the same thing, but I remember the Red Wings waiting till The Avalanche played in Detroit one night, and as soon as the puck was dropped, all 5 players plus the goalie, went after all the Avalanche players on the ice.

          Detroit was pissed for a dirty hit to one of their players during the playoffs, and they made a statement to the entire league, and anyone watching that if you think you got away with it, think again.

    • You should write dramas for a living.

  2. Hail Anze, the true seven million dollar man. Didn’t miss a game till he broke his ankle at the end of last season, shows up, plays hard every night. From what I heard is a wonderful person off the ice too. Also said he loves Terry and would only play for a TM coached team (I made that up).

  3. I’m pretty close to buying a Richards jersey. I love that guy. So glad to have the two of them on our team, hustle doesn’t even begin to describe the heart of those two.

  4. Anze is absolutely earning his paychek and is easily in the elite category of players in the NHL. I hope he wins the Selke this season, I want to see him win that award above all others, except for the Stanley Cup of course :P

    Richards is now my favorite player, as soon as I can manage I will buy a new Richards away jersey. He is everything this team should emulate. What a smart hockey player, I can’t believe we have him on this team. I can’t wait for him to score a shorthanded goal for us. Just a treat to watch.

  5. Since I can’t post in the ticket contest threads… will there be an 11/26 contest? And by contest I mean give me tickets for 11/26.

  6. I know I’m gonna blow myself for a second here, but I remember sitting at the computer screen watching the draft and waiting for that 11th pick hoping and praying we’d pick Kopitar. I couldn’t believe he fell to us.

    As far as Richards, this guy is a captain. That’s all. It’s hard for me to watch Dustin Brown’s play this early in the season and view him as the true blood & guts of this hockey team. Mike Richards pays the price, and plays at a high level, what appears to me as game in and game out. I’ve still only seen Brown around the edges this year, for the most part, outside of that crushing hit on Legwand. I always see Greene and Richards, as the two leaders in this locker room.

  7. My love for Kopitar can’t be more than it has been, but it has deepened. I found myself at the game when some bumped him jumping up and yelling “don’t touch him!” lol.

    The love is growing for Richards too. Really excited to see where this season goes.

    And of course I have my Brownie love going all the time!

  8. this article 100% sums up my feelings for both players!!!! kopi is definitely an elite 2 way center, and i even liked richards when he was on the flyers (hated them with ducks like passion since lindros). now that he’s a king, i couldnt be happier.

    i couldnt believe that we got him this summer. i was at work on my phone and i thought to myself… why did we give up so much for brad richards…. than i saw the flyers logo and it clicked that it was mike instead. ecstatic!!!!

    im actually stuck on a huge decision…. im getting a kings black jersey but i dont know who to get. im torn between kopi, richards, brown or DD. i got until Xmas to decide. most likely richards or kopi, but brownie’s captain and DD is, well, DD .

    tough fucken choice.

  9. Last week I ordered (on line) my 1st jersey in over 10 years and looking through the roster the only 2 names that I even considered were Fraser and Hunter but they weren’t available so I went with Kopitar.

    In all seriousness, we will look back in 20 years, see his jersey hanging from the rafters (against the wall) at Staples and think about how lucky we were to watch him play for this team.

  10. Guys,

    A little reality check here. Tampa is a team that plays a 1-3-1, and told everyone they played a 1-3-1. From then on, every game they play you hear about how they play a 1-3-1, and either how brilliant or game-ruining it is.

    And yes, very true.

    But the real problem, and this is the reality check, is that every other team does the same thing, or very similar. 5 back in the neutral zone isnt new to the Lightning. They just do it in a different formation, but it serves the same purpose. Other teams use the 1-3-1 too. Scotty Bowman used it. Like I said the only difference is that because teh Lightning told everyone about the “one-three-one” people are making a big deal of it, when really it is just a wing-trap, and everyone else does that now too either in a 1-3-1 or 1-2-2.

    This is precisely the reason i just commented in the other article about how the game isnt really slowing dowm. It is! this is that, what I was just talking about. Everyone admits the lightning have slowed the game down and made it hard to attack, and if everyone admits that about the Lightning, but everyone else is actually doing it too, then theyve admitted it about everyone else too.


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