New Jersey Devils

Southern California native Shane Harper is one of many local products trying to make a mark in NHL

Southern California native Shane Harper is one of many local products trying to make a mark in NHL

The memory is so fresh in Shane Harper’s mind that the details come right to the surface when he tells the story.

As a kid growing up in Valencia, Harper played hockey at the Kings’ former practice facility, the Iceoplex in North Hills. One year he was put on the same team as Ty and Paulina Gretzky, the son and daughter of Wayne Gretzky.

For Harper’s seventh birthday he had a party at the rink, and No. 99 made an appearance.

“I invited everybody on the team to my birthday, and Gretzky came and gave me a bunch of gifts,” Harper said.

“I got a picture of him. I still have that.”

With memories like that, just being in the Kings’ locker room is still dreamlike...

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