Kevin Harvick is no stranger to Kings Hockey.
The NASCAR standout, in fact, has actively followed the Kings over the years while attending games at STAPLES Center.
As the 2014-15 season came to a close, Harvick dropped the ceremonial first puck before a Kings-Coyotes game. Afterwards he answered these questions from LAKings.com:
LAKings.com: Obviously with this job you get to do a lot of cool things, a lot of unique things. Do you tend to enjoy the ones that are more sports oriented?
Kevin Harvick (KH): “I like sports. To be around sporting events and just go in and just see different athletes do their thing is fun. To be able to watch them excel, and to be challenged, and different things that come with sports. For me it is fun to watch.”
LAKings.com: Can you talk about your interest and passion for the sport of hockey in particular?
KH: “I grew up in Bakersfield, California, and obviously wasn’t exposed to too much hockey in Bakersfield until I was older. I guess it would be the Condors, and we went and watched the Condors play. As I moved east hockey was more popular. I met Jeff Carter in fact in 2007, and we kind of hit it off and became friends and have followed each other since then. It has been fun to watch hockey. I wish I had watched it more when I was younger. I have a son who is three, and he’s got his stick and understands what’s going on and likes to watch the game. That makes it fun.”
LAKings.com: Specific to the Kings, this is clearly not your first Kings game. I think you have even been to some of the playoff games too, right?
KH: “Yeah. My wife has been to more Finals games then I have, but we have hit a couple over the past couple of years. I know that she went to most of the series with the Devils. One of her best friends is a Devils fan, so that was fun for them to go back and forth and watch the games together. We have definitely been to a lot of games and enjoy watching them on TV.”
LAKings.com: Obviously you survived the big puck drop as you didn’t slip and fall. How was it?
KH: “It was good. That’s pretty cool to be able to do things like that. To be able to be on the West Coast, and to be on home turf I guess you could say. Come out and watch a Kings game and see my buddy Jeff Carter play is a lot of fun. You can call that a good night.”
LAKings.com: How do you rank your skating skills?
KH: “My skating skills are zero. They are not very good. It’s like hiring a pilot for the airplane. You are going to leave it to the professionals to do their thing.”
LAKings.com: You were sitting down real close to the ice. It’s not the first time you have been that close to the NHL, but what would one thing you take as comparisons between NASCAR and hockey that kind of jump out at you as you watch the sport?
KH: “The two things that jump out at me are first the speed, especially the closer you get to the glass, just the speed of the game. Then, the strategy and the things that go into scoring a goal. I know a lot of times there are rebounds, bounces and lucky things that go into scoring a goal. All in all there are still a lot of things happening that are done on purpose to strategize and make things happen.”
LAKings.com: As you well know, Southern California features a busy sports calendar -- Lakers, Clippers, Angels, Dodgers, Kings, Ducks, USC, UCLA. But the annual race in Fontana is a pretty big draw. Have we moved past that nontraditional NASCAR market?
KH: “In our sport now, we have the most drivers in Sprint Cup racing from California. A lot has changed over the last 25 years, and I think as you look at the crowd and the things that happen in California speed right now. It’s great to see the grand stands full and people enjoying the races and coming out and participating. For those who have not gone to a race I would suggest they come out. They will enjoy it.”
Special Thanks – Lindsay Gersten