Don’t look now, but…
Amid all the hoopla over the Dodgers’ run in the playoffs, the UCLA football team’s continuing surge and USC trying to move on from the trauma of firing their head coach, the two National Hockey League teams that call Southern California home, L.A’s Kings and Anaheim’s Ducks, have begun their campaign for what is regarded as the greatest trophy in all of sports: the Stanley Cup.
The NHL has begun the season a bit early because of the Winter Olympic break that will come in February.
Led by third year coach Daryl Sutter, the Kings, whose quest to repeat as Stanley Cup champions last season was denied by the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals, have already played two games on the road as they beat the Minnesota Wild on October 3 and lost in Winnipeg to the Jets the next night.
They open their home schedule tonight against the New York Rangers, then the Ottawa Senators come to Staples Center on Wednesday night.
As for Orange County’s Ducks, it is hard to believe that they are beginning their 20th season.
And to think that they were named after a kid’s team from a Disney (who were the original founders and owners) movie franchise that was essentially a hockey version of The Bad News Bears.
People who remember those Emilio Estevez-starred films may not recognize the Ducks now, as their colors and logo were changed in 2006-07, which interestingly enough was the year the Ducks won their only Stanley Cup.
Led by Bruce Boudreau, who like his Kings counterpart is starting his third year in Anaheim, the Ducks, after winning the Pacific Division but losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year, are 2-1 after their initial road trip, losing their opener to the Colorado Avalanche on October 2 – the NHL’s official Opening Night – before winning in Minnesota and Winnipeg.
The most exciting thing this year for these Kings and Ducks is an upcoming game between the two teams at Dodger Stadium on January 25, which is part of the NHL’s Winter Classic series.
That game will be significant because it will be the first time that the NHL has played an outdoor game in California, as well as the first time an outdoor game will be played west of the Mississippi River.
On top of that, the Dodger Stadium matchup will be the southernmost outdoor game in league history.
Can anyone say historic?
Kings and Ducks fans are obviuosly excited by this upcoming event, but as Dodger Stadium holds 56,000 people, it will also serve as something to bring in people who usually don’t get a chance to see hockey games; this Winter Classic is guaranteed to set a record for the largest crowd to ever see hockey on the West Coast.
Until then, we will all just have to wait.