Andy Lassner isn't trying to make any kind of fashion statement when he wears LA Kings' apparel on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show."
Lassner is an executive producer for the show, and has been with the show since 2003. Lassner has won 18 daytime Emmy Awards in his distinguished career, but he also has season tickets for the Kings. He often heads to the studio already decked out in gear for his favorite team, and then leaves for Staples Center right after filming is done.
"It just so happens that a lot of the times that I'm on the show, there's a Kings game that night. And, I always like to try and wear something Kings,'" he said.
In recent years, Lassner has become one of the more visible Kings fans. He has fostered a friendship with captain Anze Kopitar and built a strong relationship with the organization that has led to some viral video moments on the show. These have included: Kopitar raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2013, Jonathan Quick surprising young piano whiz Daniel Clarke Bouchard in 2014, and Lassner playing goaltender against some of the Kings for a skit in 2017.
This season, Lassner has gone on Fox Sports West a few times to give his take on the Kings where his nervous, passionate energy for the team has furthered his appeal.
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"I'm like on 20 different text message situations when a Kings' game is going on. It's like a community of fans and we're all the same kind of crazy, fanatic fans," Lassner said. "I watch every game. If I'm somehow at some social situation, some other thing that I can't go to the game or I can't be at home watching the game and I'm out, I'm literally getting yelled at by my wife for checking the score every 30 seconds."
Lassner, who grew up in New York City as a huge hockey fan and Rangers fan, adopted the team after he moved to Los Angeles in the late 90s. When he was younger, he was asked to go to a game at Madison Square Garden with a friend, and the friend suggested they wait outside afterwards to get autographs from Rangers' players. Lassner was blown away by the affable nature of the athletes and how they seemed to actually care about the people who supported the team. This got him hooked on hockey immediately.
"These guys would come out, and they would sign stuff and be nice and ask us where we were from and how long we had been Rangers fans. I was like 'this is the greatest thing ever,'" he said.
After Lassner moved to Los Angeles, he started going to Kings games that involved the Rangers. But when he began having kids and his children became invested in the Kings, it was hard for him to not share their passion.
"My sons were born in 2006, and that's when it really became insane for me, because it's really hard to keep going to games with your kids and not start caring about the team. And, so the Rangers became sort of my second team," Lassner said.
His Kings' fandom reached extreme, high levels in 2014 when the Rangers and Kings played for the Stanley Cup. He went to New York and saw a game with his brother at Madison Square Garden - a game where Andy rooted for the Kings.
"I felt so guilty that I went to New York and took my brother to a Kings-Rangers Stanley Cup game because he has yet to forgive me for becoming a Kings fan over the Rangers," Andy said.
Lassner's closer personal association with the Kings franchise really started when Kopitar appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to help raise money for Breast Cancer Awareness Month by shooting pucks at plates.
For every plate Kopitar hit, J.C. Penney donated $1,000 for breast cancer research, and the Kings matched the donation. Lassner said he was anxious before the appearance since Kopitar was, and still is, his favorite player. But, he quickly formed a bond with Kopitar when he saw his friendly nature.
"It was unbelievable. And of course, if you've met Kopitar, he's everything you want him to be and more. He's literally the nicest, sweetest, smartest guy and he was great," Lassner said. "Even Ellen after was like 'he's awesome.' And that's sort of how I met Kopitar; plus, his wife was really excited to be there. She came there and she was a huge Ellen fan, so I talked to her a bit. I told her 'if you ever need tickets, let me know.' And that sort of started to develop my relationship with their family."
When Lassner got Kopitar's phone number, he joked that he was almost equally as excited as when he got his wife's.
"He was a long shot for me. I was pretty confident I would get my wife's number. I wasn't as confident I'd get Kopi's," Lassner laughed.
Lassner's friendship with Kopitar also opened the door to meet other Kings' players and their families. They welcomed him with open arms.
"I might as well be one of the Kings' wives. I know all of them now," Lassner said. "They're like 'hey Andy.' And my wife is like 'what the hell?' And I go 'I'm like one of the wives now. We all hang out.'"
Lassner's visibility as a Kings super-fan seemed to hit new heights with his 2017 'Average Andy' skit, where he dressed in goalie gear and tried to stop shots from Kopitar, Tanner Pearson and Trevor Lewis. 'Average Andy' is an Ellen show segment where Lassner is put in situations with elite athletes to have him jokingly compete with them. He also swam against Michael Phelps, skated with Tonya Harding, worked with Cirque du Soleil and done sumo wrestling with World Sumo Champion Yama.
"One of the writers came up with an idea to put me up against professional athletes because Ellen had such a good time always making fun of me for being average," he said.
Lassner said someone brought up him playing goalie for the Kings, and the idea of doing it freaked him out because he had such admiration for the players. Though Lassner has worked with some of the biggest celebrities in the world, being around the Kings made him panic.
"That was the one where I was like 'oh I don't know that I want to embarrass myself in front of these guys.' And then before I had anything to say about it, my producers and the Kings had already decided 'oh it's happening, it's totally happening,'" Lassner said. "I've actually developed a bit of a friendship with a few guys on the Kings and I'm still like 'wow I just got a text from Kopitar' like every single time. It's kind of insane. And that's why doing that piece with the goalie thing was incredible and horrifying all at once."
Beforehand, Lassner asked Kopitar to not have fun at his expense. But, it was hard for the Kings' captain to listen.
"Nothing was going to bring him more joy than to embarrass me," Lassner said.
That specific skit seemed to make Lassner even more popular with Kings fans. This year, Fox Sports West has brought him on the air during some broadcasts, one of which included a situation where Emmy winning "Modern Family" actor Eric Stonestreet crashed the set and tried to body-slam Lassner.
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"It's not just that Andy connects to the Kings fans, he is just a great Kings fan like many of us," said Fox Sports West broadcaster Patrick O'Neal. "I just really relate to him and how he feels as a fan. He really, truly cares."
As the Kings continue their playoff push, a lot of what they do impacts Lassner. He has such emotion about the Kings, that a win can lighten his day as much as a loss can dampen it.
"I'm a genuine fan whose mood is completely controlled by whether the Kings win or lose," Lassner said. "I always say it's really hard to be a fan, for anybody. Because when you're a real fan you get so invested and you care."
"His emotional well being relies on the Kings winning," O'Neal joked.