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Round 2

Stanley Cup Playoff postcard: Huntington Beach

NHL.com Staff Writer Lisa Dillman visits the International Surfing Museum

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- There is a little-known connection between NHL players and surfing.

Really.

Things have changed when some front-office executives around the League are surfing instead of golfing. Los Angeles Kings general manager Rob Blake has been a surfer since his first go-around as a player with the Kings, introduced to the big waves by teammate Marty McSorley.

"Little less surfing though!" Blake said to NHL.com recently via text message.

Yes, he's gotten a little busier these days.

One of the best surfers of former NHL players is said to be Paul Kariya. He started surfing in 2003, following the Anaheim Ducks run to the Stanley Cup Final. Kariya and Blake got Joe Sakic into it as well.

Others followed. Kariya recalled once seeing about 10 NHL players surfing off the beach at San Clemente in 2006.

"It's great when Blakey and those guys came up because most surfers aren't that size, so if you're around them it's like the parting of the Red Sea," Kariya told the Toronto Globe and Mail in a 2006 interview. "No one goes near them."

The pull of the water, surf and sand is understandable and almost soothing after a chilly morning at the rink. More than a few reporters covering the Ducks live in either Long Beach, which is in Los Angeles County, or Huntington Beach, located in Orange County.

Huntington Beach is known as Surf City. But most residents, myself included, have never been to the International Surfing Museum. The cost is $2 and it's been there for 30 years, on the corner of Olive Avenue and 5th Street, easy to miss amid the coffee-house chains and pizza places downtown.

Inside is an exhibit dedicated to the memory of the late surfer/lifeguard Eddie Aikau, one of the most respected figures in the sport, who died in 1978.

My other favorite part of the museum is located outside, a mounted, 42-foot long 'Largest Surfboard.' In 2015, 66 surfers rode a wave on it for 12 seconds, making the Guinness World Records book.

There is a sign below the board and I figured it had to do with the historic day.

Not exactly.

"PLEASE DO NOT DEFACE THIS HISTORIC INSTALLATION. No stickers, markers, paint, ink, adhesives, or covering of any kind are allowed. Smile, you're on camera. This area under 24-hour video surveillance."

You could say this was chill surf vibe meets Big Brother.

Back inside, there were also kudos to the surf lifestyle of years gone by, including an old concert list of shows at famed nightclub The Golden Bear, which, now closed, was across from the Huntington Beach Pier.

The other cool aspect was looking at the guestbook. There were acknowledgements from travelers from noted surf countries such as South Africa and Australia, and, finally, from a land-locked place, responsible from producing many NHL players: Edina, Minnesota.

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