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Kings build excitement for season with Hockey Fest

by Eric Stephens
LOS ANGELES -- Predictions for the 2009-10 NHL season have already been made in many hockey outlets, with the Los Angeles Kings often been mentioned as a team that could be poised for a breakthrough following three painful rebuilding seasons.

It's been seven years since the franchise has played a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but there is a lot of hope floating around Staples Center these days. The team is looking to build excitement among its fan base with L.A. Kings Hockey Fest '09, a three-day interactive extravaganza this weekend bringing together the past, present and future.

The hockey showcase mirrors what some other pro sports teams have done in recent years. For instance, the Chicago Blackhawks have hosted downtown fan conventions the last two summers.

"Hosting Hockey Fest at L.A. Live will be a great way for fans to interact with the L.A. Kings in ways they have never done before," said former Kings star and recent Hall of Fame inductee Luc Robitaille, now the club's president of business operations.

"It's a celebration of the best game in the world and a can't-miss event for anyone who loves the L.A. Kings and the sport of hockey. Hockey Fest will be a fantastic way to kick off the 2009-10 season."

The event opens Friday night with an old-fashioned pep rally within L.A. Live Plaza, followed by the introductions of the current Kings players along with past alumni and other special guests at the Nokia Theatre. An acoustic concert featuring Eddie Kowalczyk, lead singer of the rock band Live, culminates the first evening.

A full schedule of activities is on tap for Saturday, beginning with a press conference run by kids that will feature players Anze Kopitar, Matt Greene, Wayne Simmonds and Teddy Purcell answering their questions. Former Kings and current NHL analysts Ray Ferraro, Jim Fox and Kelly Hrudey will conduct a panel discussion on the team and other hockey topics, while former NHLers Stu Grimson and Brad Norton will share their thoughts on the role of enforcers in the sport.

The day will be highlighted by a reunion of the famed Triple Crown Line -- Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer—that was one of the NHL's best forward lines in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Other activities will also include a street hockey tournament and an EA Sports video game tournament that will feature the debut of its newest hockey release, "NHL 10."

To culminate the event Sunday, fans can start the morning by listening to a discussion on the current state of the Kings among its key decision-makers -- General Manager Dean Lombardi, Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall and coach Terry Murray.

Fans will be treated to a one-man performance by Bob Miller, the team's legendary announcer, along with a segment titled "Growing Up Kings" that features Robitaille and former King stars Bernie Nicholls and Mark Hardy.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chris McGowan, the club's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, is estimating a total turnout of 10,000 for the three days.

"The reasoning behind it was mainly we want to launch our season," McGowan told the Times. "This is better than any type of advertising you could do."

Further details on ticket prices for each day or the entire three-day event can be found by visiting

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