After sneaking into the National Hockey League playoffs as the number eight seed in the Western Conference, the Kings have dispatched the number one seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games, and then swept the second seeded St Louis Blues. Only the Phoenix Coyotes now stand between the Kings and a place in the Stanley Cup finals.
This Sunday (May 13, at 5pm Pacific Time) the Kings will wind up and take their first slap shots at the Coyotes in the Western Conference finals. The first two games of the best-of-seven series will be played at Jobing.com arena in Glendale, AZ, a Phoenix suburb. (Though if you go to the city’s website, it seems more excited to be hosting the 2015 Super Bowl…)
Below, you can hear Warren ask Kings radio commentator and former player, Darryl Evans to try to explain why the team is suddenly doing so well.
The last (and only) time the Kings made the finals was back in 1993, during the Wayne Gretzky era. And it was the arrival of Great One in Los Angeles in 1988, and then the team making the finals in ’93, that put ice hockey on the map in sunny Southern California.
Since then, hockey has developed a small but hardcore following of players and fans at rinks around the Southland. Youth programs run by the Kings, the Ducks, and other rinks attract the sons, and even a few daughters of Canadian and East Coast transplants, along with a few adventurous locals, to this fast and exciting game. Below, I talk to ten-year-old Lily Yovetich about being the only girl on the ice:
A few adults, like Steve Hymon, have even decided to take up the game in mid-life, without ever having stepped on the ice…
But hockey playing usually starts at an early age, and, in a warm-weather climate like ours, it ain’t cheap. In fact, if your kid gets serious about the game and starts playing travel hockey (club teams that travel to play against other teams at other rinks all over the Southland and beyond), parents say the equipment, travel, and league fees can easily reach $4-8,000 a year. And some, like Lily’s mom, Sue, have three kids on travel teams. It adds up. Listen to what parents have to say about their kids’ hobby:
Rinks used to be few and far between in So Cal. But that’s no longer true. In fact, if you or your kids have been watching the hockey playoffs and have a hankering to try getting out and speeding around on a big sheet of ice, there’s probably a rink not too far from you. And for the price of a movie ticket, you can rent some skates and try it out.
Alternatively, this Sunday, you can hang out on the couch, turn on the TV, and watch the pros. (And listen to the full “Which Way, LA?” broadcast here).