Hockey Hall of Fame members Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille will serve as captains for an NHL alumni and celebrity outdoor game in Bakersfield, Calif., on Jan. 6, 2017.
Gretzky and Robitaille, who each played for the Los Angeles Kings, will captain the NHL alumni celebrity teams one day before the Three-Way Chevrolet Condorstown Outdoor Classic between Bakersfield, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, and Ontario, the AHL affiliate of the Kings.
Gretzky, who skated in the alumni game in Winnipeg prior to the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic in October between the Oilers and Winnipeg Jets and played with the Kings from 1988-96, is widely credited with helping the game grow in California.
"The success of the (California) NHL clubs has been very positive, but the minor league teams in cities like Bakersfield and Ontario have elevated the sport that much higher and made it even more popular," Gretzky said. "It's great to see a city like Bakersfield with people who are excited about watching hockey and have gravitated to these players that one day will play in the National Hockey League."
Robitaille played with the Kings from 1986-94, 1997-01 and 2003-06 and is their president of business operations.
"This will bring new fans who may have seen only one or two hockey games, or maybe have never seen a hockey game," Robitaille said. "They'll go see it (the alumni game and the Outdoor Classic) and it is a lot of fun to be part of it. That's why we do this -- to bring new people and give them an opportunity to enjoy the game that we love."
The names of NHL alumni and celebrities playing in the game will be released prior to Dec. 21.