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Kings' Anze Kopitar injures knee while labor talks grind along

January 05, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings center Anze Kopitar looks on during the first period of Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center.
Kings center Anze Kopitar looks on during the first period of Game 4 of the… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Kings center Anze Kopitar injured his right knee Saturday while playing for Mora IK of Sweden’s Allsvenskan hockey league but preliminary indications were that it’s not serious and is not likely to keep him out for more than two to three weeks.

“It’s nothing to be alarmed with,” Kopitar’s agent, Pat Brisson, said by phone.

Brisson said more would be known after Kopitar undergoes tests in the next day or two. Brisson said he had spoken to Kopitar, whom he described as “in good spirits” and not fearful that the injury would prove to be long term.

“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 also said via email that it was correct to estimate a recovery time of two to three weeks for Kopitar.

There soon might be NHL games for Kopitar to sit out -- or to play.

Delegations representing the league and the players’ association sat together for talks Saturday after spending the previous two days meeting separately and speaking through a federal mediator. The mediator, Scot L. Beckenbaugh, was again involved Saturday after shuttling back and forth between them Friday. Sources familiar with the negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly said progress was slowly being made but there were still issues to be resolved, including the still-contentious terms of the league’s liability for players' pensions.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that a new collective bargaining agreement would have to be in place in time to open training camps Jan. 12 and start a 48-game schedule Jan. 19 or he will cancel the season.

If that timetable holds up, Kopitar would have two weeks to recover and begin the Kings’ defense of their Stanley Cup title.

Kopitar, the Kings’ first-line center, has been playing for the second-tier Swedish team Mora during the lockout alongside his younger brother Gasper. A report by Linus Hugosson, editor of Europe-based Pro Hockey magazine, said Kopitar left the ice after the first period of his team’s game against Leksand on Saturday.

“Got tangled up in the corner and it felt funny,” Kopitar told Hugosson. “Precautionary reasons to step off. Taking this seriously.”

NHL players who have gone elsewhere to play during the lockout have had to pay for their insurance. If they are injured, their NHL teams can suspend them until they’re fit to play.

Players who had hockey-related injuries before the lockout and have not been medically cleared to return are the only players being paid during the dispute. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who had back surgery after the team’s Cup run and would not have been ready to play if the season had started on time, has not yet been medically cleared to return but is close to that point.

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