Sure, the Los Angeles Kings might have been the home team last week when they opened up their season halfway around the world... but Tuesday night at Staples Center was the true home opener. And with the Kings expected to compete this NHL season, the Kings Marketing Department wanted to make sure the 18,000+ fans descending on downtown would get the most passionate, most raw, most intense hockey experience around.
Nothing screams hockey like the 2012 Toyota Prius V. Coming Soon!
KINGS 5, BLUES 0
The Kings have brought in a Game Experience Specialist for the 2011-2012 season and for this Home Opener he pulled out all the stops.
There was the Ice Girls Sex Trafficking Extravaganza.
There was an awkward drum line in 8 different styles of Kings t-shirts.
There was... basketball hoops.
There was the opportunity to have your photo taken with Dustin Penner's jersey.
There was the Jon Bernier Goalie Simulator.
There was a version of Toyota Plinko where the prizes were a hockey puck, canteen, bag or movie ticket.
Bob Barker would be rolling over in his grave.
And there was some crazy Clippers fan who seemed to be #Occupying the Lockout.
But the red and blue coat of Clipper Darrell was not the most offensive thing I saw all night.
I mean, seriously... have you ever seen something this awful?
Oh... I guess you have.
Oh... I really guess you have.
Ok... you win.
Of course the biggest excitement about the Home Opener is seeing in person all the changes to the team that occurred during the off-season.
Like the crazy convenient mart that is now inside Staples Center.
That's right, Outtakes, a market with all the conveniences of a 7-11 is now open inside Staples Center near Section 104. I'm not kidding... it's like an actual market.
I'm sorry... but who the fuck needs a quart of ice cream during a hockey game?!?
Oh... my bad, Dusty.
I don't want to make too much fun of this guy... but lest I forget to spell "let's."
This jersey was hanging in the "game un-used" section.
This was inside the Team LA store. And there were at least 6 of the Gagne version of the "old" jersey.
Did someone get a little trigger happy on July 2nd?
This guy won the "Most Money Spent on an Ironic Jersey" award.
A big part of the Kings Marketing Plan this season is to make people feel like they are in Buffalo.
Apparently none of the ushers got the memo that purple has been removed from all things Kings.
The fans settled into their seats for the Team Introductions....and then... Dustin Brown began his plan for world domination.
There was this strange black shape next to where the Kings usually skate out.
We couldn't figure out what it was going to be used for.
Until we saw it transform into a stripper-esque stage for the players to skate out from.
Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I were very pleased that the Kings had decided to wear white for this home opener. We really like the Kings new road uniforms and thought we wouldn't get the chance to see them in person this year. Except when we traveled with the team for the Stanley Cup Final of course.
Watching the Kings play in white at home made me feel like it was the 1991 all over again.
Okay... well... maybe 2001 would be more realistic since the NHL switched to wearing dark at home in 2003.
I'd rather go back to 1991.
Then I saw Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner on the ice and realized it was actually 1996.
But this guy thought it really was 1991.
Seriously though, how great do those white uniforms look?
To me, the greatest part is the return of the "Kings" wordmark on the helmet.
Or rather... how great does Simon Gagne look in those white uniforms?
I'm happy for Gagne's big night...
but there is no way that goal should go in on a NHL goalie.
But the one thing that stuck out for me Tuesday night was the complete and total admiration by Kings Fans for Mike Richards. He was cheered loudly during the team introductions, cheered for even louder the first time he touched the puck and the constant talk in the hallways during intermission was how great Richards is playing. I stopped counting after the 2nd period, but I'm pretty sure that Mike Richards had 85 scoring chances tonight.
I know it's only 5 games into the season...
but Mike Richards is the greatest Los Angeles King ever.
Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I have been to a lot of Kings Home Openers before... but I don't think we've ever experienced one like this. From the first frame of the opening video... which had quotes from Dustin Brown, Jarett Stoll and Anze Kopitar declaring THIS was the season... to the arena-wide "Go Kings Go" chant during the last minute of play in the 5-0 victory... which showed that fans also are declaring THIS is the season... the expectations for a winning team in Los Angeles are higher than I've ever seen before.
Finally, Jon Hamm loses at one thing in life.
But these are the Kings... so they'll probably go out and shit the bed against Phoenix on Thursday. That's okay... because there was a real winner tonight.
Here's info on how to buy your Love for Lokomotiv bracelet.
The Kings version is available during home games in October near Section 102.