Kings center Anze Kopitar is expected to miss two or three weeks of action… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
As the NHL and players' association inched toward a labor deal during face-to-face meetings Saturday in New York, Kings center Anze Kopitar injured his right knee playing for Mora IK in Sweden's Allsvenskan hockey league. Preliminary indications were that Kopitar, the Kings' scoring leader each of the last five seasons, was not expected to be out of action more than two or three weeks.
If a labor accord is reached soon and the season opens on or before Commissioner Gary Bettman's Jan. 19 deadline for a schedule of at least 48 games, Kopitar probably would miss the early steps of the Kings' defense of their Stanley Cup title.
"It's nothing to be alarmed with," Kopitar's agent, Pat Brisson, said Saturday, adding that more will be known after the Slovenian star undergoes tests in the next few days. Brisson also said Kopitar was in good spirits and didn't seem fearful. "It's very minor," Brisson said. "Whether that means a week, two weeks or 10 days, I don't know."
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said an estimate of two to three weeks' recovery time was correct.
Small groups representing the league and the NHLPA met Saturday after spending two days apart and communicating only through federal mediator Scot L. Beckenbaugh. They are believed to have compromised on a salary cap of $62.5 million for the 2013-14 season, but key issues such as year-to-year-variance, a maximum term for contracts and pension funding were unresolved. "Progress being made. Slow," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said via email.
Players on Saturday concluded a vote to authorize their executive board to file a disclaimer of interest and dissolve the union but they did not take that step. They could do so in the coming days if negotiations veer off track.
The United States won the junior ice hockey championships on Saturday after Rocco Grimaldi scored twice and Vince Trocheck added an empty-net goal to clinch a 3-1 win over Sweden in the final at Ufa, Russia.
Filip Sandberg put defending champion Sweden ahead on power play early in the second period, but Grimaldi then scored twice in a three-minute span to swing the game in the Americans' favor.
U.S. goaltender John Gibson made 26 saves for the victory and was the most valuable player of the tournament. Niklas Lundstrom had 31 saves for Sweden.
It was the third title for the Americans, who also won in 2004 and 2010.
Earlier, Valeri Nichushkin scored an overtime winner to give Russia a 6-5 victory over Canada in the bronze-medal match.
Kevin Love breaks hand again
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love has re-fractured his right hand.
The team said an MRI exam on Saturday revealed that Love re-fractured his third metacarpal in the hand and that he will be examined by a hand specialist in New York.
The original injury, sustained Oct. 17, forced Love to miss the first three weeks of the season and has hampered his shooting. He reinjured the hand during the third quarter Thursday niight at Denver.
A person familiar with the situation said the Texas Rangers are close to a deal with Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter.
Berkman's deal is pending a physical, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press on because the contract wasn't finalized.
Multiple reports, citing unidentified sources, said it would be a one-year deal worth at least $10 million. The deal could also include a vesting option for 2014.
Serena Williams proved the break between seasons hasn't hurt her momentum, capturing her 47th career title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the Brisbane International final in Australia.
Williams has won 35 of her last 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the U.S. Open, the season-ending WTA championships and now the first event of 2013.
She already has won the Australian Open five times, and with the season's first major a little more than a week away, she's in good shape to add another title at Melbourne.
At Perth, Australia, Spain defeated Serbia, 2-1, to win the Hopman Cup for the fourth time.
Fernando Verdasco and Anabel Medina Garrigues won the deciding mixed doubles, 6-4, 7-5, against Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic.
Djokovic took the first match for Serbia by overcoming a strong challenge from Verdasco, 6-3, 7-5. Medina Garrigues evened it by outlasting Ivanovic, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-2.
Richard Gasquet won the Qatar Open at Doha for his eighth career title, coming from a set down to beat Nikolay Davydenko, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3.
Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia rallied past Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, 4-6, 6-2 6-2, and will play Roberto Bautista-Agut of Spain for the Chennai Open title in India.
The 80th-ranked Bautista-Agut beat Frenchman Benoit Paire, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
The PGA Tour's season-opening Tournament of Champions was postponed for the second straight day because of gusts that topped 40 mph and made it impossible to play golf. Unlike the previous day when 24 players managed to tee off, no one hit a shot Saturday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii.
The plan now is to reduce the tournament to 54 holes, playing 36 holes Sunday, followed by an 18-hole finish Monday.