Kings’ Kopitar finalizes deal in Sweden

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.

-Helene Elliott