The scene: A greet-the-Kings party Monday night to kick off the hockey season and to meet Canadian defector Wayne Gretzky. Rabid fans ducked into Chasen’s to schmooze with players and team owner Bruce McNall, whose cherubic face lit up when he counted the celebs and talked about bringing the Stanley Cup to L.A.
The buzz: Lots of sports talk from the XY-chromosome crowd; player Bob Carpenter was quizzed about the nasty black stitches in his bottom lip (“Oh, you got a cheap shot in the head,” John Candy said); and season ticket holders compared seat locations.
Who was there: Gretzky and wife Janet Jones; the rest of the team (easily identifiable by their scars and outsize shoulders), including captain Dave Taylor, Luc Robitaille and Bernie Nichols; hockey great Gordie Howe; hockey amateur Michael J. Fox; actors Peter Weller, Milton Berle, Marlee Matlin, Nancy McKeon, Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke; singer Neil Diamond.
Dress mode: Enough suits to make it look like a trial lawyers’ convention. Gretzky was positively Melrose in a baggy black and white houndstooth jacket; his wife wore a black lace miniskirt and black velvet jacket. Publicists imitated Secret Service agents as they maneuvered through the crowd wearing earphones connected to walkie-talkies.
The food: Chili (of course), pot stickers, mini pizzas, nachos and hamburgers, fruit dipped in chocolate sauce (where have we had that before?).
Overheard: When Kings owner McNall heard that Fox planned to attend team games, he exulted, “Oh, you’ll be our Jack Nicholson.”
Hey Wayne, listen up: Fellow expatriate Canadians advising Gretzky about moving here: “Get a good immigration lawyer” (Fox); “Get a good agent” (Candy); “Get paid in American dollars” (Alan Thicke).
Triumphs: The party didn’t turn into the Wayne Gretzky Show. He acted like a team member, sneaked in the back door, remained accessible and didn’t give attitude.
Glitches: Chasen’s party room isn’t as big as a hockey rink, but you’d never know it from the number of guests.
Justine Bateman/Leif Garrett watch: Those two crazy kids were on the town again, this time making a brief appearance and smooching during the party.