With electrifying upsets of Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix en route to their second-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings have rocked STAPLES Center to its foundation and rewarded hockey’s most loyal fans with memories that will last generations.
But the Kings and their fans aren’t the only ones who have benefitted from the team’s stunning run this spring. The Kings Care Foundation has made sure that when the Kings do well, Greater Los Angeles does well too.
“The Kings Care Foundation is very important to everyone in the organization,” says Chris McGowan, Chief Operating Officer for the Kings and for AEG Sports. “Phil Anschutz and Tim Leiweke believe very strongly that sports teams should be integral part of their community.”
Through Kings Care, which is committed to supporting a variety of health-related, educational and recreational opportunities for youth of Greater Los Angeles, the franchise has taken the community along on the its remarkable postseason journey with two unique postseason initiatives.
The Kings’ Beard-a-thon invites fans to join in the playoff tradition of growing a beard, while Platelets for Playoffs calls on Kings’ backers to donate platelets at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in exchange for the opportunity to win playoff tickets.
Kings forward Kyle Clifford is the team’s official representative in the Beard-a-thon, in which participants challenge family, friends and business associates to maintain a beard as long as the Kings stay alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“The Beard-a-thon is a fun way for fans to celebrate a great hockey tradition and to participate in the Kings’ playoff run,” said Kings President, Business Operations Luc Robitaille.
The Beard-a-thon is open to everyone, with fans who are unwilling or unable to grow a beard invited to pledge their friends or a Kings player. Fans can also join in the fun – and made a donation to the Kings Care Foundation – by purchasing a fake beard at the Team LA store at STAPLES Center.
Through the Platelets for Playoffs program, Kings Care has teamed up with the Blood Donor Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for a blood drive that generated 91 platelet donors in the first two rounds of the playoffs. An estimated 300 children will benefit from the program.
While the Beard-a-thon and Platelets for Playoff programs have capitalized on the team’s remarkable march to the Western Conference title, the Kings have a year-round commitment to their community, with myriad crusades and a wide variety of programs.
After a September 7, 2011, plane crash killed 44 people, including players, coaches and team personnel of the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, Kings wives and girlfriends offered their help. The sale of Love for Lokomotiv bracelets raised $30,000, with all proceeds going to the Love for Lokomotiv Foundation.
Closer to home, Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier sponsored an essay contest in which a local, deserving goalie between the ages of four and 10 was awarded a new set of RBK goalie equipment, which included pads, blocker and a goalie stick.
Bernier also sponsors “Bernier’s Angels,” which donates four prime tickets to each game. The goaltender makes it a point to personally meet with the four recipients after every game. Bernier said he gets much more than he could ever give.
“You might have had a bad game,” Bernier said, “but then you sign something for them or take a picture with them, and you see the smile on their face. After that, you have a different mindset.”
Bernier is not alone in his generosity. The number of players who serve as active participants in community relations projects runs almost as deep as the team’s roster.
• Jonathan Quick has established the 326 Foundation with his brother-in-law, former King and current New York Islander Matt Moulson. Quick donates $500 for every game he wins to Kings Care.
• Robitaille participated in “Looking for Luc” at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, an online game in which participants search for the Hockey Hall of Famer as he visits the hospital.
• Dustin Brown, who was awarded the 13th Annual NHL Foundation Player Award for his community involvement, has been as influential in the Kings’ community initiatives as he has in the team’s drive to the Finals. Brown and his wife, Nicole, are longtime supporters of KaBOOM!, a non-profit organization that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in American. The Browns’ efforts reached a crescendo on September 29, 2011, when the couple were joined by hundreds of volunteers as they built a 2,050 square foot playground for the Walnut Mini-Park, a 1.5 acre park built in 1986 in need of major care, in just one day. Brown continues to donate $50 per hit to the Dustin Brown Hit Tracker.
• Davis Drewiske, one of the club’s defensemen, has raised more than $30,000 for Huntington’s Disease Society of America the past two years through the Davis Drewiske 3 on 3 Youth Hockey Tournament.
• The annual Tip-A-King event, held November 13 at Sony Pictures in Culver City, raised more than $200,000 for Kings Care.
The Kings’ commitment to helping those in need does not stop with the players.
“Our entire organization is involved,” said McGowan. “We have fund-raisers at games, golf tournaments and Tip-a-King, which are all geared toward giving back to the community.”
There is another gift the Kings would like to give to the community. Four more wins and the team and its fans will share a special memory sure to last forever. And, through initiatives like the Beard-a-thon and Platelets for Playoffs, when the Kings win, everyone wins!