The new lighting scheme at Staples Center, which focuses the arena's newly installed LED lights on the ice surface and leaves the stands darkened, has drawn some criticism from the Kings.
To be clear: At no point did they say, suggest or hint that the new lighting pattern was to blame for their flat effort Wednesday in a 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in their season opener. But Coach Darryl Sutter said Friday that players have told him that they don't like having the stands darkened in the background, and it's for one logical reason.
"They can't see the puck at a certain height," Sutter said. "When we practiced down there, I couldn't see the puck, either. When it got above the boards, I couldn't see the puck. But I thought it was because the seats were all black and there was nobody in them. So I just said, 'OK.'"
Sutter said the lights on the ice had been adjusted, but not the lack of lighting directed to the stands.
Defenseman Alec Martinez said he had noticed that it's more difficult to distinguish the black puck against the darker background.
"Sometimes when the puck gets rimmed around the glass or just kind of goes above the boards in your angle of view, you kind of have a hard time tracking it," he said.
"I'm just waiting to see if they keep it or not…. It certainly is different. It's almost brighter on the ice but it's darker in the building."
Lee Zeidman, the president of Staples Center, said he will take the players' comments into account. The bright playing surface/dark stands scheme also will be used for Clippers games.
"It is very important for us that the Kings are happy with the new system and we will continue to work with both the team and the NHL to make tweaks as needed," he said. "The ability to make adjustments and dial the system in to where the players and coaches from both the Kings and the Clippers, as well as our broadcast partners, are satisfied is one of the benefits of our new system."
Also, Sutter said forward Trevor Lewis and defenseman Jake Muzzin will not play Saturday against the Coyotes at Glendale, Ariz., because of "frustrating injuries."