Outdoor game at Dodger Stadium was something special
Iconic ballpark, perfect conditions made for memorable night three years ago todayby Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES -- Luc Robitaille didn't just wake up one morning and decide it would be a radical idea to hold an outdoor hockey game at Dodger Stadium, then wave his hand and get it done.
The Los Angeles Kings president of business operations said the process took years of lobbying the NHL to get the game, which was held on Jan. 25, 2014, between the Kings and Anaheim Ducks. There were skeptics when the idea was first floated in casual conversation long ago.
You would think a reporter who had covered Robitaille since the 1988-89 season, his third as a player with the Kings, would have known better than to doubt him. The ninth-round pick (No. 171) in the 1984 NHL Draft finished his NHL career as the highest-scoring left wing in League history, won a Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
But everything went as smoothly as a Vin Scully call of an August baseball game. In fact, Scully, the now-retired baseball announcing legend, was at the hockey game, as was NHL icon Wayne Gretzky on a picture-perfect night at Chavez Ravine. So was KISS.
Video: Memories: Outdoor hockey at Dodger Stadium
Almost no event could be held at Dodger Stadium without the irrepressible presence of Tom Lasorda, the Los Angeles Dodgers ambassador. Lasorda said, beforehand: "We had the Pope here. We had the Beatles here. Now we have hockey here."
The League's vice president, facilities operations, Dan Craig, didn't have to worry about the ice surface being affected by unseasonably high temperatures in late January or the multiple rainstorms that have been hitting the Los Angeles area this January.
Temperature was 63 degrees at puck drop.
At that time, I was covering the Kings as the beat reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The Ducks won 3-0, handing the Kings their fifth straight loss. Anaheim goaltender Jonas Hiller made 36 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and the 20th of his NHL career.
The Times headline online: "It's all goose eggs for Kings as Ducks pitch shutout at Dodger Stadium."
There was also was a reference at the end of the story to the elaborate pregame ceremony.
"Who knows? The names Gretzky, Scully, [Kings broadcaster Bob] Miller and KISS may never have appeared together in the same sentence, or the same story, for that matter.
"… Scully invoked Dodgers past and present, saying: "From Koufax to Kershaw."
"And on this night he could have added: From Gretzky to Getzlaf."
One special personal highlight came a couple of days before the game, at the media skate on Jan. 22. The Kings had finished a trip at Columbus the day before, and getting from Columbus to Los Angeles isn't easy under the best of circumstances. Despite flight delays and afternoon traffic in Los Angeles and a quick stop in El Segundo to buy skates for a member of our group, we made it to Dodger Stadium in time.
The effort was worth it.
It would be hard to match the beauty of the location. Dusk settled over the iconic stadium with the hills in the background. All the things that make Dodger Stadium such a scenic venue were magnified whirling around the ice.
Skating at Dodger Stadium equals priceless.