Veterans enjoy family skate time for Stadium Series
Saku Koivu seems headed for retirement along with Ducks teammate Teemu Selanne after this season, but his children’s reaction to the Stadium Series might give him pause to stick around for another year.
“All of a sudden, skating is the biggest thing there is,” Koivu said. “My kids have been talking about this for two or three days.”
Ilona Koivu, 9, begged her 39-year-old dad for new skates that would fit her for the family skate the night before Saturday’s Stadium Series game between the Ducks and Kings at Dodger Stadium.
Koivu also had his hockey playing son, Aatos, 7, by his side at the skate.
“When you get older and realize you don’t have too many years left in your career, and won’t have a chance like this again, to share it with the family and kids, and hopefully they remember skating at Dodger Stadium, this historic place … to look around at this setup, it’s amazing,” Koivu said.
Selanne, definitely headed to retirement at season’s end, was the final Duck off the ice.
“I tried to enjoy it,” he said. “It’s different for me than the other guys. Last chance. I know this is my last year. I try to enjoy every day, every moment.
“And this is one of them.”
Selanne said the showcase represented a stop to appreciate how the game has grown in popularity in Southern California.
“If someone told me 10 years ago we’d have an outdoor game, I’d say impossible,” he said. “Hockey has really exploded here, the Kings and Ducks have done a lot and the kids will remember this for a long time.”
From the red carpet
… where L.A. sports legends Wayne Gretzky and Fernando Valenzuela met for the first time. … .
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman declined to say whether an outdoor game in California was a one-time event or, if not, where the next location might be. He also said he had not discussed the possibility of an Angel Stadium game with the Ducks.
“We haven’t gotten that far,” he said. “We’re taking this one step at a time.”
Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson said he played outdoor hockey as a kid.
“On the pond, where you shovel the snow off,” he said. “I didn’t want to play in the rinks. It was way too early in the morning.”
Out in the street
In the Dodger Stadium parking lot, the NHL arranged what’s known as “Spectator Plaza,” where fans could shoot pucks, broadcast games, buy $6.75 Coors Light and compare team colors.
“It’s a statement game,” Ducks fan Brendan Martinez, 22, of Anaheim Hills said. “We beat ‘em Thursday. To do it again, in this stadium, at this event, that’s a statement.”
Martinez’s life has seen the growth of the sport launched by Wayne Gretzky’s arrival as a King, the birth of the Ducks 20 years ago and both teams’ Stanley Cup wins within the last decade.
“It’s cool to see how big SoCal hockey is now,” Martinez said. “I’ve played my whole life, love it.”
Meanwhile, Kings fan Vince Correa, 39, of Bloomington, came decorated with a puck hat adorned with tassels, a beat-up Duck attached to his Kings’ shirt.
Correa expressed confidence his Kings would shake off Thursday’s 2-1 loss in Anaheim and win with the home-city advantage.
“We barely lost to them … this is the hub of L.A., Chavez Ravine, you can’t get any deeper into L.A. than this,” Correa said. “Wonderful day for L.A., everyone together having this hockey party.”
Drink of choice
With the game-time temperature around 64 degrees with 43% humidity, the players requested extra water and sports drinks by the bench.
For Ducks forward Dustin Penner, memories of playing outside for the first time in 12 years brought him back to the old liquid refreshment of choice in the bitter cold of Canada.
“Hopefully, there’ll be some hot chocolate, then we’ll really feel like we’re outdoors,” he said.
After beating the Kings at Honda Center with a “big” lineup that included Patrick Maroon and Tim Jackman, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he wasn’t married to the same lineup Saturday.
Yet Boudreau kept Maroon and Jackman in there Saturday, sitting center Mathieu Perreault and wing Jakob Silfverberg, and had a 2-0 lead on goals by Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey after two periods.
Stadium Series ticket prices on StubHub dropped as the day went on, from $185 in the morning to $115 an hour before the first puck drop.
The website added a disclaimer during the day that, “This is a baseball stadium, not a hockey rink,” warning there were partially limited views based on the proximity to the rink.
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