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Column: Why Anze Kopitar beats Gretzky, Dionne and Robitaille as king of Kings

Kings center Anze Kopitar always knew where he wanted to go, never mind the prohibitive odds stacked against him.

He was determined to become a professional hockey player, even though his homeland of Slovenia — part of Yugoslavia until 1991 — had little hockey tradition and few ice rinks. He realized at a young age he would have to use not only his abundant skills but his brain, carefully planning each step to gain any possible toehold or advantage.

So when his grandmother, Marjana Katnik, brought tests home from the school where she taught elementary English, he’d take those exams himself.