Stanley Cup returns to SoCal while labor talks drag on

The Stanley Cup, newly engraved with the names of Kings players, executives and staffers, will be making a few appearances in Southern California this week before continuing its travels and, eventually, finding its way back to the region.

On Tuesday the Cup will visit six local rinks, where fans who have won special raffles will have their pictures taken with the trophy. Proceeds from those raffles will go to help youth hockey programs at the Ontario Ice Skating Center, L.A. Kings Icetown in Riverside, KHS Ice Arena in Anaheim, Aliso Viejo Ice Palace, Glacial Gardens in Lakewood and Ice Chalet Palos Verdes. The Kings’ first rink tour, last month, raised more than $11,000 for the benefit of youth hockey programs.

The Cup is then scheduled to appear at a season-ticket holders’ event at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday before heading to Europe. It will be displayed at games involving Eisbaren Berlin and the Hamburg Freezers, teams that are owned by AEG, the Kings’ parent company. It will also make a visit to Finland so Kings scout Christian Ruuttu can enjoy his day with it.

The Cup is due back in Los Angeles on Oct. 9 and, at the moment, is still scheduled to appear at the Kings’ opener at Staples Center on Oct. 12. But with the lockout continuing and no hope of imminent resolution, the NHL is expected to cancel games this week, thereby postponing the Kings’ banner-raising ceremony.

Although it’s customary for the reigning champion to give the Cup back to the Hall of Fame when the next season starts, the Kings might be allowed to hold onto it a bit longer if the lockout remains in effect. In that case, some charity and public events might be scheduled for the Cup locally in mid-October. We’ll keep you posted.

And on the labor front, the NHL and NHL Players’ Assn. are scheduled to meet Tuesday in New York to discuss hockey-related revenues. They spent the previous three sessions talking about secondary issues, so it seems a positive sign that they’re attacking the central issue in the dispute that has wiped out the exhibition schedule and will soon wipe out the first few weeks of the season.

However, the two sides are still so far apart on how to divide revenues, how to help small-market teams and who has made more economic concessions that it’s difficult to take much consolation from their decision to shift focus in Tuesday’s talks. There probably won’t be much urgency until players lose their Oct. 15 paychecks and enough time passes that it would be impossible to play a full season even if the schedule were to be condensed.


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