LOS ANGELES -- It would not have been hard to tell the location of the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game just from the crowd reaction at Staples Center on Sunday. There were boos for Cam Fowler and Ryan Kesler of the Anaheim Ducks, boos for San Jose Sharks players Martin Jones and Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns.
There was, on the other hand, adoration for the hometown players, for Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty, the two Los Angeles Kings who got to add an extra game to their regular 41-game home schedule with an invitation to the All-Star Game.
For them, this was a different sort of weekend. They weren't on vacation, weren't adapting to a new location, weren't on unfamiliar ice. Though they, like the rest of the All-Stars, had to fly in for the weekend, with the game situated between a four-game road trip that ended at Carolina on Thursday and a trip to Arizona on Tuesday.
But for the moment, they were home. They were the hosts. This was their party.
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"It was a lot of fun," said Doughty, a defenseman. "The crowd was behind me and Carts the whole time, like they always are, but to have the fans on your side felt pretty special. I felt the Kings organization and the NHL did a great job of doing this event. It was fun for the fans and the players."
And they connected, too. Doughty and Carter's Pacific Division team made it to the final, where it lost to the Metropolitan Division 4-3, and certainly got a couple of boosts from the Kings players. Carter, a forward, and Doughty each had a goal and two assists in the Pacific's 10-3 win against the Central in the semifinals. Each had an assist in the final.
"The weekend, it kind of flies by, there's a lot going on," Carter said. "But when you're out on the ice and hanging out in the room, it's a lot of fun, just getting to know the ice. To be on the ice with that much talent - it was a good weekend."
That was ultimately what mattered, not that they lost in the final. What mattered was the weekend, which became a celebration of Los Angeles, of the city and the team and their 50-year marriage, one boosted by an unprecedented collection of star power -- perhaps appropriately for Los Angeles -- with the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian also in attendance.
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"It means a lot," Doughty said. "We had our 50th anniversary this year, so for them to have that along with the 100-year anniversary for the NHL was really special for them. I know that they really wanted this, had been talking about it for years. So I thought they did a great job and everyone had fun."
There was only one problem: Doughty said he was relied upon by fellow All-Stars to provide recommendations for the weekend but that he failed in that aspect of his hosting duties.
"I used to be dialed in back in the day, but I lost all my contacts," Doughty said. "I kind of disappointed a lot of people, I think."
Fortunately, the day and the experience didn't do the same for Doughty and Carter.