For the second season in a row, the Los Angeles Kings were part of the NHL Stadium Series. Last season, the Kings hosted the Anaheim Ducks at Dodgers Stadium.
On February 21, the San Jose Sharks hosted the Los Angeles Kings at the new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
I was not impressed with either game. I barely watched both of those games.
First of all, California isn’t exactly a hockey “hotbed.” Yes, the Los Angeles Kings have been around since 1967 and was the only hockey team in California until the Sharks came along in 1991. (The Ducks were founded in 1993.)
|The Stadium Series set up at Dodger Stadium on January 25, 2014|
So, why was I not a fan of the NHL Stadium Series being in California for two years in a row? Well, there are a number of reasons why. Having grown up in Minnesota all of my life and have grown up playing and watching hockey, I’m used to seeing outdoor rinks with snow around and skating outside when it's like 15 degrees out. The idea of green grass around an ice rink in February just doesn't sit right with me. There was even a sand volleyball court set up at Dodgers Stadium for last year's Stadium Series game between the Kings and the Ducks (I believe the air temperature during that game had to have been in the 80's). With temps in the 70's-80's, the quality of the ice had to be impacted because of those temps (even with all of the refrigeration piping underneath). I don't understand why the NHL would want to take that risk of injuries with their players to have these games in California.
"Many NHL players have expressed concerns about ice conditions in very warm-weather cities during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They fear the outdoor temperature may be hot enough to soften the ice inside the building.” (http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/ice-rink4.htm) The same could be said for the air temps affecting the ice for these two outdoor games.
|The Stadium Series set up in Santa Clara, CA at Levi's Stadium|
When the league announced that there was only going to be one Stadium Series game this season, I was shocked that the location was chosen as Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, CA (the new 49'ers stadium). A Stadium Series game for the second year in a row in California? To me, that was just wrong. The San Jose Sharks haven't exactly been selling out their home games as of late (and currently sit three points out of the last wild card spot). I suppose the NHL wanted to capitalize on the rivalry between these two teams after San Jose's epic play-off collapse last year in the Conference Semi-Finals. Both the Kings and the Sharks aren't necessarily locks to make the play-offs this year (the Kings are currently sitting in 3rd place in the Pacific Division with 70 points, and I previously mentioned where the Sharks are currently sitting).
When I was at the WIld Wednesday edition of the Jeff Dubay show that was being recorded from Bennett's this past Wednesday night, Tony Dean (from hockeybuzz.com) asked how many of those 70,000 in attendance at that game really knew anything about the game of hockey or where they there just to say that they were able to attend an outdoor hockey game in California. Yes, there were probably die-hard Sharks fans in attendance. But really, how many people in the San Jose area really pay attention to hockey? That question probably would have some interesting answers.
The Sharks ended up losing this game on "home" ice by a score of 2-1.
I would seriously like to know who is/was responsible for choosing the uniforms the Kings wore during this game? White breezers? Those uniforms were ridiculous. I don't know which uniforms were worse--these Kings ones or the uniforms worn during the All-Star game.
Next season, I will be very happy to see a Stadium Series game played outside in places where there is actual winter weather...at TCF Stadium on February 21, 2016, when the Minnesota Wild take on the Chicago Blackhawks.
I cannot wait.