On a brisk February evening, with the picturesque Rocky Mountains looming in the backdrop, Anze Kopitar will pull on fresh white gloves, a one-of-a-kind silver bullet chrome helmet and a black and white geometric jersey before he walks out the tunnel to Falcon Stadium to take the ice in front of thousands of fans.
Though the 2020 NHL Stadium Series™️ will be the 33rd outdoor game in NHL history, and the fourth that the LA Kings will participate in, it's one of the most special events yet for the Kings organization.
For several years, Kings management and the NHL have been in discussion to ensure that a team with such strong ties to the military, plus an ownership group based heavily out of Colorado Springs, CO, would be able to suit up for the second-ever game hosted by a U.S. Service Academy.
"Our fanbase is incredibly connected to the aviation industry," AEG Sports COO Kelly Cheeseman said. "The state of California and the city of Los Angeles have a rich heritage related to the industry. From Howard Hughes to some of the first test pilot planes created here in LA. We wanted to tap into that."
Video: The LA Kings 2020 NHL Stadium Series jersey is here!
One of the ways the Kings will honor their military ties is through their edgy aviation-themed uniforms.
The jersey takes a unique twist on the team's brand markings, with motion lines trailling from a slanted "LA" crest. The inspiration was drawn from a single-seat fighter jet called the P-51 Mustang, which was manufactured in the heart of El Segundo, quite possibly on the same ground where the Kings practice facility sits today.
"It's one of the most iconic planes to have an impact on our nation," Cheeseman said. "We wanted to draw an inspiration around the P-51 Mustang with adidas as we designed the jersey."
The angular architecture of the Air Force Academy and oblique angles of their aircrafts were used to shape the jersey's typography and numbering.
"When you see the full kit and Anze next to the aircraft, it's pretty awesome. We're honored to have the chance to wear that and tell that story, because it's really about the servicemen and women who created, manufactured and flew the plane."
During the game, in addition to a first-intermission performance by country star Sam Hunt, fans can expect to see heavy recognition of the active and former military members and possibly even a flyover.
The Kings jumped at the chance to be a part of a league event, as they are one of the trailblazers when it comes to growing hockey both in North America and internationally. The team's parent company, Anchutz Entertainment Group, owns more teams and manages more sporting events than any other company in the world, including the Ontario Reign, Eisbaren Berlin, LA Galaxy and interest in the Los Angeles Lakers.
"We always want to be in those big NHL events. We were one of the first teams to go to Europe," Cheeseman said. "Obviously as a company, we have a footprint across the world and we were very active in supporting the league this year."
The event will no doubt be a memorable night for fans in attendance, staff and players on both benches and the military community in Colorado as a whole.
"At 6,500 feet, at 6 pm on a February evening - I think you're going to see a fast game," Cheeseman said.
"It will be pretty special."