The Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia informed that Matjaz Kopitar, who was previously announced as new national team coach, will not be able to assume this position. Instead the former national team player, who has worked as a coach in Europe for 17 years, will start a new chapter of his life as scout for the Los Angeles Kings, the NHL team of his son Anze Kopitar, and didn’t receive the permission to assume both jobs.
Kopitar was originally announced in early June to return behind the bench of the Slovenian national team.
“When the leadership of the Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia contacted me to return as head coach of the national hockey team and after the first talks, it seemed there would be no major problem with the conclusion of the new cooperation. Unfortunately, later, after my visit to Los Angeles, it turned out that I would not be able to get involved with the Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia,” Matjaz Kopitar wrote in a statement.
“I already received the job proposal from the LA Kings organization before. The challenge to be the main pro scout for Europe is big. After the conversation with the leadership of the LA Kings we found out that my workload would be quite extensive. This would prevent me from doing my job as coach of the team because I would not be able to offer to the national team 100 per cent of work and dedication. This is one of my main principles of leadership because I require 100 per cent commitment from the players and team. I would not be able to demand this if I was not able to do this. That’s why the decision is difficult but it’s better to turn a new page now and thoroughly rather than finding out later that my assignment is simply not compatible. The new team management and the boys I want to wish luck for the new challenges ahead of them.”
The Ice Hockey Federation of Slovenia regrets that Kopitar will not be able to join as previously planned and will start looking for a new national team coach as soon as possible.
Slovenia missed out on promotion to the top-level IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship last year in a tight final-day battle and will aim at promotion next spring where the team will play against Belarus, Korea, host Kazakhstan, Hungary and Lithuania at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Astana from 29th April to 5th May 2019.