The Wall Street Journal's Hannah Karp informs the global audience that, with the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in eight years, "there's a strange new bandwagon to jump on here, and it has nothing to do with Botox or tiny dogs or female directors or 10-day juice fasts in the desert. The flavor of the month is an oft-forgotten sports team with an underground, pasty-skinned, punk-rock following." That would be the Kings, led on the ice by Drew Doughty, who at 20 is younger than anybody on the Dodgers or Lakers and already has an Olympic gold medal. As the Kings get ready to open play tonight in Vancouver, another good piece is a sit-down with Kings' CEO (they call him governor in hockeyspeak) Tim Leiweke by the team's in-house journalist, Rich Hammond. Leiweke speaks pretty freely about the team and the state of the game, and complains a little that he and owner Phil Anschutz don't get enough credit for being actual puck fans. (They also run soccer teams here and in Europe.)
We’ve had, as an organization, between the Lakers, the Galaxy, the Houston Dynamo and the teams in Europe, we have won 12, 13 championships. But the one that matters, in my opinion, is the Kings, because I think it speaks to our credibility and it speaks to our ability....
I’m a season-ticket holder. I think I’m one of the five largest season-ticket holders. I spend a lot of money and buy seats, because I want to have the ability to understand and be a part of this fan base. I believe in this team. I am very passionate about the Kings. If I’m in town, I’m there. If I’m on the road, I try to watch. I will be at the away games during the playoffs. I love this team. Phil doesn’t live here, so we’re in a unique situation. It is a corporation that owns this team. It is AEG, and Phil is the chairman of AEG. Phil has never missed a Frozen Fury, ever. He goes to every one. If he’s in town here, he goes to the Kings games. If he’s not here, then he’s probably watching. He’s very involved and very excited about what we’ve accomplished here.
Tonight's game airs at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports West, Versus, Canadian Broadcasting (CBC) and on radio here on KLAC 570. It's a best-of-7 series and you have to win four grueling series to heft the Stanley Cup — truly the hardest trophy to win.
Game 2 is Saturday in Vancouver, and Game 3 is Monday back here at Staples Center. Unlike other sports, you can watch the Kings practice for free (and anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred generally do) at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. The players would probably work out on the ice Sunday and conduct a pre-game morning skate there on Monday, but it's best to check before going.
Photo: NHL/Getty Images at WSJ.com