It's taken Tomas Kopecky a long time to get here.
Injuries hampered his career at the start. A second round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, Kopecky was healthy enough to play only 48 games in 2003-04 and 2004-05 in the American Hockey League. When he finally made it to "The Apple" full-time in 2006-07, Kopecky missed the last 52 games of the regular season due to injury.
The following year, Kopecky's ice-time was minimal; the Red Wings had a deep and talented group of veteran scorers. The 28-year-old Slovak was part of Detroit's 2008 Stanley Cup Championship team, but didn't appear in a single game during the playoffs.
Kopecky signed with Chicago last year and got off to a sluggish start, playing mostly on the 4th line before the Olympics.
But during the Vancouver Games something happened. Playing top-line minutes for the Slovaks, Kopecky's game (size, skill, shot and grit) and his confidence surged. He carried that back to Chicago, proving to be a key player during the Blackhawks Stanley Cup run.
The 2010-11 season arrived with Kopecky on the No. 1 line. And he has run with the opportunity, tallying one goal and six points in five games. It took him 35 games to notch four points last year.
Is this finally the year Tomas Kopecky fulfills his potential?
The Blackhawks need it to be.