Kings center Anze Kopitar celebrates the team's Stanley Cup victory… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
Kings center Anze Kopitar’s agreement to play for the second-tier Swedish team Mora Ishockeyclubb for the duration of the NHL lockout was finalized on Tuesday and he could play for the team as soon as this weekend, according to his agent, Pat Brisson.
Kopitar was eager to join his younger brother Gasper with Mora, which is a member of the Hockey Allsvenskan league. Kopitar will be able to return to the Kings at the end of the NHL lockout. The Elitserien, the top Swedish league, has said it won’t allow NHL players to play there on short-term contracts, a ruling that might be challenged.
Kopitar’s new team is located in the town of Mora, about 215 miles northwest of Stockholm. Kopitar, a native of Slovenia, played two seasons for the Swedish team Sodertalje before joining the Kings and still has fans there. In addition, he speaks some Swedish — and now he will have a chance to practice it again.
In other lockout-related developments, the NHL Players’ Assn. moved to pay the costs to restore insurance coverage for players and their families following the league’s decision to terminate that coverage after the lockout began last weekend. That includes medical and dental coverage for players and their families as well as disability insurance. However, players must still secure insurance for their NHL contracts if they play overseas during the lockout.
As the lockout moved through its third day the Florida Panthers laid off about a dozen employees. Michael Yormark, the Panthers’ president and chief executive officer, said in a statement the layoffs were “due primarily to the work stoppage,” but also cited “changes and efficiencies in our normal business operations.” The Panthers are the second team to lay off employees, following the Ottawa Senators. Other teams have cut employees’ hours and pay.
Among those laid off by the Panthers was the person who portrays their mascot, Stanley C Panther.
We’re happy to report that the Kings’ mascot, Bailey, remains employed—and has gone international on a special assignment. A Kings spokesman said Bailey was in Hamburg, Germany, working with the hockey team owned by AEG, the Kings’ parent company. Bailey—named for Ace Bailey, one of two Kings scouts killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks—has been helping the Hamburg Freezers launch a mascot program and improve their game presentation.
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