Kings' Stanley Cup Run Increasing Merch Sales, Putting Celebs In The StandsPublished June 6, 2012
FAMOUS FANS: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote the momentum from "this miracle-like playoff run" by the Kings has brought a "surge of sightseeing from longtime fans who wondered which members of the 'Hockeywood' community would join them for this momentous occasion." NBC's Al Michaels, who has been a Kings season-ticket holder "for the past 20-something years, was hardly placid watching L.A. face the New Jersey Devils in the Kings' first Stanley Cup home game in 19 years." Michaels said, "One of the great things about sports is when something is so totally unexpected, it comes out of nowhere, and you're almost in a dream sequence." He calls himself a "maniacal fan" and added, "You can't believe you're coming to a hockey game in June. We've always been done in early April. There's been tremendous anticipation. I think I've only missed four minutes of one game this playoff run." Hoffarth noted like Michaels, some longtime Kings fans such as actors Matthew Perry, Will Ferrell, Tom Arnold and Mary Hart "have been through thick and thin," with the team. A "newer wave of L.A. celebrities" that includes actors James Gandolfini, Channing Tatum, Ellen Page, LL Cool J, Alyssa Milano and Ron Perlman also "made it cool again to be at Staples Center" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/5).
ALL THE KINGS' MEN: In L.A., Sam Allen noted as the only L.A. team "in championship contention, the Kings have a lot of new fans." Kings VP/Broadcasting & Communications Mike Altieri said that unlike most other professional sports teams, the Kings' practices "are open to the public, and in recent weeks hundreds of fans have turned out for a free peek at the team in action." Allen wrote, "Although the Kings are obscured by the overwhelming popularity of the Lakers, Dodgers, UCLA and USC, there's still a solid base of intelligent and passionate hockey fans who are deeply devoted to their team" (L.A. TIMES, 6/5). CBS' “The Insider” host Kevin Frazier appeared on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" to discuss the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup and the affect it could have on the team's exposure in Hollywood. He said, “Let the Kings win the Stanley Cup and you watch the gear as it starts to penetrate the culture of L.A. and people start wearing it on the red carpet, it becomes cool … for the rappers and other folks to wear." He added, "L.A. Kings become the team and next season you’ll see more faces in the crowd and more people hanging out” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 6/5).
LONG TIME COMING: ESPN.com's Scott Burnside noted Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille "has played a significant role in both catering to the longstanding Kings fan base ... but also cultivating the new fan base that is crucial to continued growth in a competitive marketplace" like L.A. While Robitaille's duties "are separate from the team's hockey operations department, they are inexorably linked." Selling the Kings' fan base "on what GM Dean Lombardi and assistant GM Ron Hextall were building was as important as the draft picks and trades that went into the formation of this record-setting team." Burnside wrote, "No man is an organization, but if it was so, then Robitaille would be the Kings." It is "hard to imagine, if the Kings manage to win one more game ... anyone appreciating it as much as Robitaille." Robitaille said, "We're close, we still got a ways to go, but it's certainly something if we can get that one more victory it's going to be very special because it's never been done before." Burnside noted before this season, "the team had appeared in only one Stanley Cup final, in 1993, and Robitaille was a big part of that Kings team that lost to Montreal in five games." ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose said that he is "not surprised at all that Robitaille has parlayed his Hall of Fame playing career into a stellar career as a front-office executive" (ESPN.com, 6/5).
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