Hockey Fever Grips Los Angeles, Part I: Stan Kasten Has Lost His Mind

1 06 2012

Although you would be hard-pressed to prove this by me, the following sentence does illustrate that hockey fever may indeed be gripping Los Angeles.  Dodgers President Stan Kasten said he would like the Los Angeles  Kings to host an NHL Winter Classic game at Dodger Stadium. It’s not like Kasten has no idea of the dynamics of hockey, after all he is the former president of the NHL Atlanta Thrashers.  But in this case, he’s clearly gone batshit crazy.

I’ll cut to the chase. This is a terrible idea for three reasons.

1) The Weather

The NHL has yet to award its New Year’s Day showcase to a warm-weather city. Kasten believes Dodger Stadium can handle the event from a facility stand-point, and in terms of the temperatures, he could very well be right.  Twenty years ago, the Kings played an outdoor exhibition game in Las Vegas., and with some technological hocus-pocus, the ice remained playable despite a game-time temperature of 85 degrees.

It’s rain that is the problem. Look at the problems they had with the Winter Classic last year in Philadelphia. It was the rain that delayed the game, medded up the ice and generally played hell with the game.  It just so happens that January is the rainy season in southern California.

2) The Stadium

While it is true Dodger Stadium is the largest in baseball, that is also the problem. Previously, this has been done in small ball parks, such as Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia or Fenway Park in Boston. Depending on where they put a rink in Dodger Stadium, there won’t be very many seats closer than 40 yards to the ice.

3) Nobody Cares About Hockey in Los Angeles

Even with the current band-wagon being towed by the Kings run to the Stanley Cup Finals, even though Southern California boasts two NHL franchises, niether of them are in the top half of the league in terms of attendance.  To be even more honest, hockey isn’t a terribly popular sport in the majority of America anyway.  To be brutally honest, the Winter Classic has outlived it’s novelty factor.

Last year, the Winter Classic posted a paltry 2.4 TV rating, and that was with the fact the usual glut of college football on New Year’s Day had been moved back a day to let the NFL have that Sunday for its  final regular season games. However, the Winter Classic was also moved back so as not to compete with the NFL.  The NHL was smart enough to not go head-to-head with the NFL, but they can’t even beat college football in the ratings.

The following bowls had higher ratings than the NHL’s event — the ones in bold would’ve been played on New Year’s Day in any other year:

  • BCS Championship, LSU vs. Alabama: 14.01
  • Rose, Wisconsin vs. Oregon: 10.17
  • Fiesta, Stanford vs. Oklahoma State: 9.6
  • Sugar, Michigan vs. Virginia Tech: 6.07
  • Outback, Georgia vs. Michigan State: 5.14
  • Cotton, Arkansas vs. Kansas State: 4.95
  • Orange, Clemson vs. West Virginia: 4.56
  • Alamo, Washington vs. Baylor: 4.41
  • Chick-fil-A, Auburn vs. Virginia: 3.6
  • Champs Sports, Notre Dame vs. Florida State: 3.28
  • Insight, Iowa vs. Oklahoma: 3.0
  • Capital One, Nebraska vs. South Carolina: 2.86
  • Sun, Georgia Tech vs. Utah: 2.71
  • Holiday, Texas vs. Cal: 2.69
  • Meineke Car Care, Texas A&M vs. Northwestern: 2.69
  • Music City, Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest, 2.66

Nobody watches the Music City Bowl, and statistically, even less are watching the Winter Classic.  Nobody cares about hockey in Los Angeles.  Nobody cares about outdoor hockey, and the fact that Stan Karsten can’t wait to get on an empty band-wagon suggests he’s lost his mind.

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3 responses

4 06 2012
sportsattitudes

The Winter Classic set the bar so very, very high in Buffalo in Year One in retrospect that should have been it right then and there. Or, they should have just kept it going up in the “weather-appropriate” parts of Canada. We just had it here in Philly…barely…it just isn’t worth attempting to pull this off in places where it might be 60 degrees all week. It’s a lovely, romantic bouquet to the origins of the sport but in order to pull it off you really have to annually have it closer to the Arctic Circle where the only issue might be too much snow. Frankly, I thought the Pittsburgh one was a debacle in the nighttime rain. I LOVED the idea…I LOVED the first one…but the reality is since weather is supposed to be part of the experience – in a good way – that certainly rules out most of North America…you too L.A.

5 06 2012
ChrisHumpherys (@SportsChump)

Any comparisons in modern professional sports to what the Kings have done so far, Dub?

5 06 2012
J-Dub

Well, to me the most obvious comparison in terms of post-season performance is the 1988 Edmonton Oilers who just steam-rolled everybody in their path. But the Oilers were one of the best teams ever. To get a real comparison to what the Kings are doing now, you need a team that was barely playoff worthy, then got hot at the right time.

Of course, should the Devils come back to win, then you can start the Yankees-Red Sox 2004 ALCS comparisons…

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