Last month, the two sides were “very close” to a new extension. Today, a new contract between the Los Angeles Kings and Anze Kopitar is reportedly “far from done”. This according to TSN‘s Darren Dreger via TheScore.ca. To go backwards from one extreme to another seems almost impossible to justify, but here we are. Somehow, this writer cannot help but feel that fans have been taken for a ride with this saga.
The reality of the situation is simple. For a long-term extension for the franchise’s most important player — with all due respect to Doughty, Quick and Brown — no one can, nor should, expect overnight results. Especially with today’s salary cap, keeping a star player for the next eight or nine years needs to be treated as a careful, drawn-out process.
This, however, has become irritating.
On Dec. 17, it was reported by TheScore.ca that both sides were “very close to a massive 8-year extension” where Pierre LeBrun, an especially reliable source when it relates to the silver-and-black, even disclosed the annual amount of $9.75 million. LeBrun did also say, though, that the deal would not be finalized until January. So, with that, fans still have a window of four weeks before panic sets in.
It is unknown who should be blamed for this. Then again, to point fingers wouldn’t be the most practical idea given just how complicated these matters can be.
After successfully reaching new $10.5 million deals in Chicago for Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, it is possible that agent Pat Brisson wants to squeeze just a bit more out of the Kings’ bank for Kopitar. But that is just a possibility as this writer, for the time being at least, has no proof that the latter statement is accurate.
Having his parents recently move in with him in Manhattan Beach could easily suggest that Kopitar himself is not the culprit for this mess. Again, though, that is an assumption.
Realistically, re-signing Kopitar isn’t quite as easy as fans want it to be. After all, the club is also wanting to keep pending-UFA Milan Lucic in the fold who, especially after his revival this season thus far, will be looking for a raise from his current $6.5 million salary. Unfortunately, it seems that freeing themselves of another hefty salary is the most likely scenario in order to keep both Kopitar and Lucic long-term. That applies to the aforementioned Dustin Brown whose contract leaves a cap hit of $5.875 million. Freeing themselves of this, or so it would seem, would give the Kings what they need. Doing that, however, is much easier said than done.
While his offensive numbers have steadily declined in recent years, nothing can ever take away just how important Dustin Brown has been not only to the Kings but to the Los Angeles community. To part ways with such an integral figure cannot be done on a whim — not by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, the reality is that the Kings cannot have their cake and eat it too. If they want to keep both Kopitar and Lucic, someone else has to go.
Nevertheless, if there are any distractions, Anze Kopitar has done an outstanding job of hiding it as he is on fire right now, coming off a season-high four-point night on Monday. Overall, the Slovenian has 12 goals and 23 assists in 42 games.
Regardless of how this is playing out, though, optimism remains with this writer. As previously mentioned, Pierre LeBrun said that a new deal would be signed in January and we are not even at the midway point yet. In the same breath, the news of this roller-coaster saga is nonetheless annoying. To put it simply: enough with the updates of “very close” or “far from done” and just sign the contract already.
Easier said than done, yes, but this isn’t rocket science. Let’s put a pen to paper and move on.