NHL Stadium Series jerseys

This morning was the unveiling of the jerseys for the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks for next month’s Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium.

Taking a look at both, I think the Kings are the clear winners here. Their design mixes the crown (which I MUCH PREFER over their current home plate logo) with a gray as the dominant color (another nice touch) and black sleeves for a traditional look. LA is featured on the shoulder. My one beef is their website only posted a slow-loading unveiling video, not photos (at least not right away). You can check that out here. I would love to see the Kings turn this into their primary home/road jersey scheme and ditch the current models all together.

The Ducks went all in with the Orange while keeping the giant webbed-foot crest that inhabits their third jersey (which I think should become their primary one as their current home/road jerseys are among the drabbest in the league). The Ducks, who provided a photo gallery of their jersey, have OC on the shoulder and their current color scheme in stripes on the sleeves. It’s really bright but could make a nice third jersey in the future.

Nonetheless, both jerseys are winners and positive editions to the franchises’ jersey catalogs.



CAHA president’s balancing act

NHL.com published an interesting look at CAHA President Steve Laing over the weekend. As you can read here, the gist is how he has balanced an often-harrowing career in law enforcement with being a timekeeper for the Anaheim Ducks.

I’d have liked to seen more detail about his six years as CAHA’s president, because I hold the opinion that he has had a massive influence on the youth game in California, far beyond what many people realize. Two areas come to mind immediately.

Without Steve’s vision, we don’t have “pure” high school hockey in California, and we certainly don’t have it at the levels we do now (i.e. Santa Margarita winning a USA Hockey National Championship). Steve continued to champion that as an alternative (or addition) to travel hockey. High school hockey’s benefits are many: players play with their schoolmates, far less travel is required and the expenses tend to be significantly lower. At some schools, the JV programs serve as sort of an introduction to the sport for some players. (This fills a significant gap in youth hockey in California – there are plentiful programs for younger players who want to start, but what about ones in their teens?)

And high school hockey is only going to continue to grow. The Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League will announce the addition of several new schools in the coming days. Between varsity and JV programs, there could be at least 20 teams in the league this season.

Steve and the CAHA board (whose members also do not get near the recognition they deserve for their commitment to the sport and hard work on behalf of it) have championed measures to reduce hits to the head by increasing penalties for such hits. The transition was not always smooth (for players, coaches and refs), but greatly reducing opportunities for concussions is well worth the short-term growing pains.

Steve, like so many who work in our great game of hockey in California, is an example of someone who dedicates a lot of time to the sport while also working outside of it.

To him, and the many other coaches and administrators, I say, THANK YOU.


Deep playoff runs nothing new in California

Much has been made — and almost certainly will be made — of how California hockey is emerging, as if it’s a new phenomenon.

Let me dispell this right now. As I chronicle in my forthcoming book, California was producing college and pro players as far back as the 1960s and Olympians in the ’70s. Yes, the hockey is better than ever now at the grassroots level, and the numbers reinforce that. But this is NOT a new phenomenon.

Now, back to the Stanley Cup playoffs and the LA Kings’ marvelous run thus far.

Did you realized that in the past 10 seasons a California team has reached at least the Western Conference Finals seven times. The lockout in 2005 took care of one of those years, so it’s seven of nine seasons.

2003 — Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Stanley Cup Finalist

2004 — San Jose Sharks, conference finals

2005 — lockout

2006 — Mighty Ducks, conference finals

2007 — Anaheim Ducks, Stanley Cup champions

2008 — none, though Sharks reached Round 2

2009 — none, though Ducks reached Round 2

2010 — San Jose Sharks, conference finals

2011 — San Jose Sharks, conference finals

2012 — Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Finals

Hockey-State, anyone?


New Year book update

I have a pile of California minor hockey news and stories to post, and I hope to do so in the next few days. But first I wanted to provide an update on the hockey book.

As some of you might be aware, for the past four years I’ve been researching and now writing a book about the history of hockey in California. During this process I’m continually learning more from the people I speak to, and so the direction of the book has changed from initially being one that solely examined the game’s growth here, to one that does that but points to key events, teams and people who were part of its emergence and growth along the way.

So while history is part of it, and there are nods to many of the state’s pro teams, it really focuses on how these events added more kindling to the “hockey fire”.

I’ve spoken to roughly 400 people associated with the game’s history from the late 1930s until now, and the words of many of them will appear in the book. Their stories — to me — are priceless.

At this point I’ve written or nearly written approximately 18 chapters. I hope to complete another 12-15 in the next 3-4 months. At that time, I’ll evaluate what I have (again) and submit it to an editor. As of yet, I do not have a publisher for it, but if it needs to be self-published, I’m preparing to do that.

As the Stanley Cup Playoffs commercial asks, “Is this the year?”

Happy New Year, and keep your head up and stick on the ice.

Defensemen going different directions

With the New Year came news about two moves being made by young defensemen with ties to California.

Former San Jose Jr. Sharks defenseman Ben Paulides has committed to Miami, Ohio. Paulides has brought a physical style of play to the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms the past two seasons. Read more about his season here. The RedHawks regularly reside near the top of the Division I polls.

Meanwhile, former LA Selects defenseman William Wrenn, a 2009 draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, decided to leave Denver University at the semester break and sign on with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, meaning his NCAA eligibility is gone. You can read Portland’s take here.

Wrenn will have the benefit of playing for former LA Kings assistant Mike Johnston in Portland, who has led the Winterhawks to the top of the U.S. Division.

Wrenn had played in 18 of DU’s first 22 games with one assist and a minus-7 rating for the nation’s No. 7 team. You can read the Denver take here.

Three with CA ties make U.S. WJC team

Congratulations are in order for forwards Mitch Callahan, Emerson Etem and Jason Zucker for making the U.S. World Junior Championship team on Wednesday.

The trio, as well as forwards Matt Nieto and Rocco Grimaldi, were in USA Hockey’s final evaluation camp.

Zucker, who is from Las Vegas but played a couple of seasons for the LA Selects, was a member of last season’s gold-medal-winning squad.

Etem, who led all WHL rookies in scoring last season, and Callahan, who has emerged as the Kelowna Rockets’ leading scorer this season, made it despite the presence of six returning forwards in camp.

Check back for more soon. … Also, look for a feature on the players in next month’s issue of California Rubber Magazine.