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The Reviews Are In From LA

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

“It was better than the ice in some NHL arenas,” said Ducks’ defenceman Francois Beauchemin. “It wasn’t an issue out there.”

Teemu Selanne, a veteran of five Olympic Games and a Stanley Cup championship in 2007, said he ranked the event “high on his bucket list” of career achievements.

“The whole package was outstanding,” said Selanne. “The atmosphere was unbelievable. You don’t have many chances to play in front of 55,000 people in California, outdoors, when you can see the stars. It was awesome. I’m going to remember this … and I can’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do this more.

“We were most worried about the ice and they did a great, unbelievable job. It was a great surprise that the ice was as good as it was – because obviously, the quality of the hockey, it can even be dangerous if the ice is not so good. Those guys, they were pros. It was maybe a little slower than normal rinks, but it was nice and smooth. In the third period, it got a little more sluggish, but that’s how every building is. I have no complaints.”

The game’s first star was a toss-up. It was either Ducks’ goaltender Jonas Hiller, who had a 36-save shutout in a game where the Kings held a territorial edge for the final 50 minutes, or Dan Craig, the NHL’s ice-making guru, who did what few thought possible and produced a thoroughly playable ice surface.

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from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

From KISS to Vin Scully, the USC marching band to Wayne Gretzky, the palm trees and South Park cartoon characters in Los Angeles Kings' jerseys to the Anaheim Ducks' 3-0 win in a jam-packed Dodger Stadium, it's hard to imagine Hollywood scripting a better start to the NHL's ambitious -- and oft-criticized -- series of regional outdoor games.

If Los Angeles is a big-event city that revels in the glitz, then the NHL proved it can play with the big boys with a lead-up to the game that simply hit all the right notes, including Gretzky's appearance to drop the puck for the ceremonial opening faceoff to a thunderous ovation.

continued

from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,

The three-ring circus before the game was often excessive, like the league-mandated ticket prices that had to be scaled back to sell more seats, and the exorbitant parking fees set by the NHL. But so much about this Stadium Series game was just right, making the Ducks' 3-0 victory a triumph of the spirit as much as a product of refrigeration and technology.

The shared pregame introduction from Scully and Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller of the Kings hit all the appropriate notes. "Here at Dodger Stadium, we welcome you with open arms," Scully said, and how true the fans made that.

Most welcome of all was the sight of Gretzky entering through the center-field fence, walking down an avenue of palm trees and to center ice, where he belongs.

read on

Scott Oake of HNIC interviews Vin Scully, who tells a great Jackie Robinson story.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Paul's avatar

Jeff Miller of the OC Register (paid sub.) at the Miami Herald,

There was a time when the idea of the NHL playing a game in Southern California seemed as unlikely as the idea of the league playing an outdoor game here. But here we all were Saturday, and that might be the simplest way to measure the sport’s growth.

Still, an odd feeling lingered about all this, a feeling as hollow as the Dodger Stadium ice surface, a surface that one Kings player Friday likened to an empty eclair.

The feeling was kind of like after the last Christmas gift has been opened. Is that all there is? Now what? When’s the next Christmas?

We can, however, report that afterward Ryan Getzlaf handed his stick to a fan just before he disappeared into the first-base dugout. And that’s a sentence I’ll never write again.

Outdoor hockey came to Southern California on Saturday and the event was a success, what otherwise would have been a regional story inflated into something much larger.

Kooky Night in California, let’s call it, just another NHL regular-season game, one that sounded, felt and certainly looked like no other.

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Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/26/14 at 10:21 AM ET

Avatar

It was one of the more fun hockey nights in a long time. A great atmosphere, two good teams, (too bad the Kings couldn’t make it a game, Hiller was awesome), From the opening with Kiss to Vin Scully and Bob Miller, the USC Marching Band, 5 for Fighting, fireworks, Wayne Gretzky, 55,000 fans in venerable Dodger Stadium, the goofy beach volleyball and all the kids in their favorite hockey jersey it was great. Even the ice was good.  Most of all it was a celebration of hockey in California, with 24,000 youth players in the State now, this was their coming out party. Well done!

Posted by timbits on 01/26/14 at 11:18 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Agree, Timbits. Very enjoyable event to watch (and, being a KISS fan since’75, that helps).

I had my doubts about this entire thing when first hearing about it, but they pulled it off, and it was a great success no matter how you measure it.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/26/14 at 11:42 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

There were some laughably cheesy moments, the musical acts being primary.

The game itself was pretty boring.

Still… overall success.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/26/14 at 11:48 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

There was more than one musical act?

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 01/26/14 at 11:51 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I thought the game was a dud, considering weather cooperated and ice conditions were apparently good.

Posted by Primis on 01/26/14 at 02:11 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Kiss played twice and Five for Fighting played during the 2nd intermission.

Kiss was embarrassingly old and F4F was embarrassingly soft.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 01/26/14 at 02:18 PM ET

shazam88's avatar

I don’t know what the reasoning was for bringing in Kiss. Granted the LA music scene isn’t quite as vibrant and hip as it was 25 years ago, but c’mon. Gene and his woman do attend Kings games occasionally, so perhaps he’s some sort of unofficial, favored son to Deano.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/26/14 at 02:31 PM ET

pautna's avatar

Where are all of the Negative Nancys now?!? The ice was just fine, so I would like EVERYONE who bitched and complained that it would melt to own up and post that you were wrong! I’m looking forward to reading all of your posts where you eat crow. Thanks.

Posted by pautna on 01/26/14 at 03:31 PM ET

RockWestfall711's avatar

Kings fan here.  The spectacle and atmosphere get an A+.  The game was a dreadful bore, choppy and with little flow.  Was beyond sick of NBCSN conversation during play.  The event worked, was proud for how far Kings have come but that game was a dreadful bore that was not a good look to prospective NHL fans.  NYR NJD had far better action and some scoring.

Posted by RockWestfall711 from Las Vegas on 01/26/14 at 04:48 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Thanks for joining and commenting RW and I agree, the game was boring but hey, sometimes it happens.

Regarding NBCSN, I am lucky enough to live in a border city, thus giving me access to CBC and HNIC.  Whenever the option exists, I go HNIC all the time.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/26/14 at 05:12 PM ET

SK77's avatar

Really, Paul? I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to the NBCSN crew talk about the Yankees & Cubs right now though ...

Posted by SK77 on 01/26/14 at 05:18 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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