Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wait a Minute...LA Has a Hockey Team?

Yeah, I was surprised too.

Neither Paul nor I could remember the last time we'd attended an NHL game, so this trip was definitely one of the spontaneous variety. I happened to be downtown traversing across the vast Los Angeles subway system (translation: there are about two destinations I can reach on it, one of which is the Central Library), and Senor Jacobs happened across the tickets because of connections with his roommate, public hockey leagues, and the Kings PR Department. As you can probably guess from the above photo, taken roughly five rows from the very top of the Staples Center, these were free tickets. Tuesday night's opponent? The Minnesota Wild, pride and joy of the Twin Cities and favored team of ND Basketball expert Pat Girouard.

At first, I was bummed to learn that The Great One no longer played for the Kings - hey, if Roger Clemens can keep coming out of retirement, why can't Wayne? The Kings, it was quickly established, were a very young team - 18 of their 22 players are under 30, while their two big stars (Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson) are 20 & 21 respectively. On the other side of the spectrum, the inemitable Rob Blake, still doing it at age 38. Across the glass, Paul had a mild rooting interest in Wild captain Pavol Demitra, longtime St. Louis Blue. More importantly, this was a chance for Demitra's most recent fanbase to welcome his return (he was dealt to the Wild in a draft-day trade last season). The reaction was tepid at best: few people were in their seats until 15 minutes into the first myself and the two Pauls.

Despite the customary LA appearences of wandering in a half-hour late and planning a mid-3rd period getaway, and the fact that they blare Randy Newman's "I LOVE LA" whenever the Kings score, I have to say my overall impressions of hockey at the Staples Center were positive. The fans were legitimately into the game, only reinforcing my belief that the NHL has done so much to ruin its image and alienate its fanbase that the ones who are still going to the games and sitting in the nosebleeds are true fans, indeed. The game was exciting too - a 3-3 tie where the Kings couldn't cash in on several power-play chances through the 3rd period and overtime, ultimately decided in a shootout - Kopitar clinched the victory for the home team with a SWEET triple-deke move that would've made Gordon Bombay proud.

So that was SoCal hockey. Paul and myself also checked out San Diego during NFL Opening Weekend (Chargers-Bears), and met the Mets out at Chavez Ravine (Dodgers-Mets). Can a date with "KOBE!!!" and the Lakers be far behind?



At 12:01 PM, Blogger Pat Girouard said...

A date with Kobe may have to come either at another venue or in Staples with Kobe wearing the opposing teams colors.

Despite the Wild's loss, they remain the only unbeaten team in the NHL at 5-0-1. Since when does a loss not count as a loss?


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