It may be 80° and sunny in Los Angeles lately, but Dodger Stadium’s baseball diamond will be icy and cold come Saturday when the Kings and the Ducks face off for a regular season game as part of the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series. This will of course be the first ice hockey game to ever be played at Dodger Stadium, and it will be the first outdoor NHL regular season game to be played west of the Mississippi. It’s historic, but there’s something odd about seeing the ice rink set up where Yasiel Puig will be rounding the base path come April.
On Monday, Wayne Gretzky was on hand for a press conference to speak about the upcoming game:
"“This is a wonderful day, not only for Kings fans and for Ducks fans, but for the NHL itself,” said Gretzky. “It shows how much the game has grown. I remember sitting and watching on New Year’s Days the games in Buffalo and Philly, in cold and snow, and always said it would be so cool to see it played in Dodger Stadium in 65 degrees in shorts and T-shirts. The dream is going to come true.”"
Not only will there be a ice rink set up for the game, but there will also be a beach volleyball court in left field and a duck pond in right-center field. American Idol Winner Jordin Sparks will sing the national anthem. I heard Sparks sing the anthem at Dodger Stadium during a regular season Dodger game before, and I was truly impressed. Her rendition was one of the most beautiful versions I have heard at Dodger Stadium. The rock band KISS is also set to perform.
January 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne (8) and goalie Frederik Andersen (31) during practice the day before the Stadium Series hockey game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The specialized refrigeration unit truck will keep the ice at 22° for the game. The ice, which began forming on Thursday, will be protected under thermal tarps at night. Although the current conditions may make it the warmest outdoor NHL hockey game to date, it is not unheard of to have outdoor ice rinks in Southern California. In fact, there has been a seasonal outdoor rink in Westlake Village, California not too far from my residence for many years. The rink was still in use and seemingly still icy enough for recreational ice skaters well into this warm January weather.
On Friday, the ice was tested out and got a great review from Luc Robitaille. Robitaille spent a couple of hours on the ice with Dan Craig, the man behind the rink’s creation. Robitaille, Kings President of Business Operations, wants to use this game in order to further promote ice hockey in Southern California:
"“We want to make sure we take this event and use it as a platform to push the popularity of hockey in Southern California.”"
Robitaille, originally from Quebec, now lives in Santa Monica.
Both Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti are hockey fans, and they both were happy to host the game at Dodger Stadium when
January 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general view as the Los Angeles Kings practice the day before the Stadium Series hockey game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
approached by The Great One. Kasten has experience running the Atlanta Thrashers in the past, and Ned Colletti wrote about hockey before working in Major League baseball. Ned has a degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University. In 1980 he wrote for the old Philadelphia Journal covering the Flyers.
The game will begin at 6:30 p.m. PT as the cross-town rival Kings and Ducks battle it out under the lights of Dodger Stadium. The Kings are currently 29-17-6 and in third place in the Pacific Division. The Anaheim Ducks are in first place with a record of 38-10-5.
While I’m not a huge hockey fan, it’s a pretty exciting sport to watch live. Watching the special outdoor game from the Dodger Stadium stands will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for hockey fans. Although the tickets to the event were pricey, they expect to have a full house of 55,000 fans on Saturday night.