Anze Kopitar was the first player from Slovenia to play in the NHL, and also became the first to bring home the Stanley Cup. As an official website declared, the entire country is proud of him:
Hockey player Anže Kopitar is currently Slovenia's brightest star and is making sports history for the country. His numerous successes have triggered real euphoria and many people stayed awake for many nights to watch him excel at his work. The Los Angeles Kings hockey team are the new champions of the North American National Hockey League. [...] The 24-year-old, who carried the names of his hometown of Hrušica and of Slovenia out into the world with his talent, persistence, maturity and enthusiasm, is today the most recognised Slovenian sportsman.
Needless to say, the parties thrown in his honor were memorable ones.
There are many fun videos of Kopi's day with the Stanley Cup on the Kings' website. He enjoys a Stanley breakfast of chocolate museli, a trip to a gorgeous castle and a sacred lake in Bled, parades the Cup in a horse-drawn carriage, and then goes to a rally.
But one of my favorite videos from Slovenia comes from before that day, when Kopitar arrived back home for the first time. Here is a band performing the Anze Kopitar song, with accordion and electric guitar.
Unsung hero, no more!
I can't translate the lyrics. I do know it has a nice beat, and you can dance to it. (I also can't shake the earworm out. But that's okay, I like walking around singing about Anze and clapping my hands.)
Hrusica knows how to rock.
Can you imagine what this means for the sport of hockey in a country with a population of two million? An article from the IIHF highlights the fact that there are currently 943 hockey players registered in Slovenia. Two play in the NHL.
Kopitar has made dreams come true.
Let's hope Kopi gets his next wish, too.