Is Los Angeles a big hockey city?

Is Los Angeles a big hockey city?

Caden Fitzroy Jul. 28 0

The Story of Hockey in Los Angeles

When talking about sport cities, there's no denying that Los Angeles invariably ranks high in the conversation. A quick look at the city's sporting pedigree features teams that have had storied careers in basketball, baseball, and football. But one sport that typically falls off the radar when discussing LA's sporting panorama is hockey. Yet, in this often overshadowed corner, lies a vibrant, active, and passionate ice hockey community living in the heart of Los Angeles.

Hockey may seem incongruous in the perpetual sunshine of Los Angeles, a city known for its beaches and surf culture. But anyone who would dismiss LA as a hockey backwater due to its geographical and climatological quirks stands to be thoroughly surprised.

Ice Hockey's Early Beginnings In Los Angeles

The history of hockey in Los Angeles begins at a time when few would expect it to. The first professional ice hockey team to grace the City of Angels was the Los Angeles Monarchs, members of the Pacific Coast Hockey League in the late 1940s. That’s right, even as the film industry was slowly finding its footing in LA, so was professional ice hockey.

Despite often being overshadowed by the immense glamour of Hollywood, the sport began to slowly take root. After several false starts and inevitable setbacks, perseverance shone through as it often does, paving the way for the LA Kings, the city's first NHL franchise.

Arrival of the LA Kings

Established in 1967, the LA Kings brought a new dawn to LA's hockey scene. It was an exciting time for fans and sports buffs. Suddenly hockey had become more than just an icy sideshow in a city of sunny distractions. It was now rubbing shoulders with heavyweights on the main stage.

Over the years, the Kings have experienced highs and lows, but their popularity and influence in making the city a hockey town can't be overstated. Two Stanley Cup victories in 2012 and 2014 not only raised the profile of the game but also fostered a new generation of hockey enthusiasts in Los Angeles.

The Miracle of '88 and the Gretzky Effect

Without a doubt, the most significant turning point for hockey in LA was the acquisition of Wayne Gretzky in 1988. Gretzky, 'The Great One', as he's fondly referred to was an electrifying presence on the rink. His arrival ignited the city's interest in hockey in a way never seen before.

As Caden, a lifelong fan, I remember this period vividly. I was young, and Gretzky's performances on the ice were nothing short of magical. It induced a new-found passion for hockey in me. A passion I believe was shared by countless Angelenos. The Gretzky era was a period of growth for hockey in Los Angeles. It drew more fans to the sport and increased its visibility in a market originally dominated by basketball and baseball.

The Arrival of Anaheim Ducks

Another notable milestone in LA's hockey history came with the establishment of a second NHL team in the region - the Anaheim Ducks. With their entrance in 1993, bolstered by Disney's creation of the movie "The Mighty Ducks", they brought additional attention to hockey in Southern California.

The rivalry between the Ducks and Kings has done wonders to further enhance fan engagement in the sport. Watching these two teams vie for regional dominance has been a joy that has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of the sport within the city and beyond.

The Rising Popularity of Youth Hockey

One fascinating way to gauge LA's love for hockey is by looking at the interest in youth hockey programs. Over the past two decades, there's been a boost in the participation in youth hockey programs, thanks to the dedication and investment from both the Kings and the Ducks.

Both franchises have spent millions in developing new rinks, providing equipment, and coaching young talents. Their efforts haven't gone unnoticed, with more talent from Southern California getting drafted in the NHL. It’s opened doors many never realized were there.

So, Is Los Angeles a Hockey City?

A city's sports identity is an amalgamation of its history, its teams, its victories, and most significantly, its fans. In the case of Los Angeles, yes, it is a basketball city. It is also a baseball city, a soccer city, and a football city. However, the question was, is Los Angeles a hockey city?

The answer? An emphatic yes. From the Monarchs to the Kings, to the Ducks, from Gretzky to Luc Robitaille, from building new rinks to nurturing young players, Los Angeles has carved out a space for hockey that can no longer be ignored. While it may not have the traditional icy backdrop, this sunny city has proven that passion and dedication transcend geographical barriers. As someone who has experienced this passion firsthand, I'm excited to see what the future holds for hockey in Los Angeles.

Think about what makes a city a 'hockey city'. If it's the presence of devoted fans, the cultivation of home-grown talent, the high-octane games delivered by its franchises, then yes. Los Angeles, the city of angels and ice, is indeed a big hockey city.

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