Kings vs. Thrashers: Armenian Heritage Night was… Something Else

I don’t mean to offend you, but some of you are not going to get this post.

A hockey game is a hockey game. There are always people who are ready to remind you that a game is a game, the outcome is not going to have a major impact on the world, that is, unless it is the Miracle on Ice, or you are the guys sitting behind me at the game tonight (I’m sure every game is like that for them). In the game, hits are thrown, shots are taken, injuries happen, and glory is bestowed on one team until the next time it is someone else’s. It’s a hard perspective to keep when we “live and die” by our teams.

A hockey game may not mean much, but the events surrounding that game might. For me, tonight was one of those nights. In fact, it was one of those nights that is hard to put into words.

Tonight, the L.A. Kings held Armenian Heritage Night. This isn’t the only heritage night they held this season, they had nights for Russia and other nationalities (sorry, I can’t remember them off the top of my head). At first, it sounded like a joke, or a cheap promotion. The post-game entertainment was Armenian hip-hop artist R-Mean (seriously), and there would be Armenian beer at the after party. All of this because it was Atlanta Thrashers rookie Zac Bogosian’s first game in L.A., and he is the first Armenian to play in the NHL. It sounds like a cheap gimmick, and it could have been a cheap gimmick.

It wasn’t. In fact, it is going to be hard to top this night on the rest of the tour. Let me show you what I mean.

Armenian169

That is Zac Bogosian on the left. He doesn’t look like your typical Armenian. For one, he’s tall. Armenian men are not that tall (I am 5’10”, which makes me a giant by comparison).

Armenian172 Armenian168
Zac had a great post on the Blueland Blog (which I would not have found if not for Kukla’s) about his Armenian family and heritage. Here is an excerpt:

It’s pretty special for the Kings to have Armenian Heritage Night while I’m playing there. My grandparents are Armenian and that part of my background is really important to me, because even though I’m not from there it’s always good to go back to your roots and understand where you came from. Plus it’s special to my family so it’s special to me. I’m pretty proud to be Armenian, and there are a lot of them out in LA, so my grandfather is really excited about it. I think there’s something like 2 million of them in the LA area, which is crazy since there are only about three million people that actually live in Armenia. As far as I know I’m the first Armenian player to play in the NHL, so there’s going to be a lot of them there rooting for me. That’s going to be pretty cool.

I don’t know if I really look Armenian. Most of them are 5’9″ with dark hair and dark skin- kind of Persian looking I guess. I might look more Armenian with a buzz cut, but I’m too tall. They’re known for being strong though. There are a couple Armenian guys in the UFC that fit the stereotype better than I do- Kenny Florian is 5-10 and fights at 155 lbs. Karo Parisyan is 5-10 and 170.

I look a little more Armenian than Zac. Just a little. OK, a lot, but not nearly as Armenian as some of the people at the game tonight.

Yeah, about that. The Kings did not mess around with this. At first, I thought I would be the only guy in the place who cared. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There were Armenians everywhere. They would take one look at my Armenian National Team jersey and nod and smile at me in that approving way. There were Armenians everywhere. Even the Armenian consul was there, see?

Armenian142

Here are a few more (click on the pics to make them bigger).
Armenian140 Armenian078
How about these guys?
Armenian076

Or this guy, who was part of the Armenian National Team (the one on the left, of course):

Armenian077
Yes, members of the Armenian National Team were at the game, and the after party. Talk about doing this thing right.

Fine, you didn’t come for this, I understand, but this is something that was not only important about the night, but also important to me. So here is what I am going to do. Pictures of the game and after party are posted after the jump. You get to choose, but know this. There is a big time picture at the end. You want to see this.
[Read more…]

Kings vs Flames: So It Begins

Considering that this is me we are talking about, it isn’t any real surprise that I got out of Tempe, AZ. I said it before, I will say it again. If I had a traveling name, it would be Start Later Than Wants. Basically, my day was pack, drive, game. I arrived in LA about an hour before puck drop. And I know I was coming into downtown, but for rush hour, the traffic wasn’t as bad as I was dreading.

On to the game.
Lakings021209 51

Oh, very exciting.
A bit of history for you. If this was Montreal or the New York Rangers, you would have about twenty numbers up there, all retired in the last two years.

Lakings021209 50

Tony McKegney dropped the puck tonight, as part of Black History Month. Jarome Iginla and Wayne Simmons took the draw.
Lakings021209 39

Refs have a moment of happy time before the rough stuff starts.

Lakings021209 38

Not that it ever got that rough. I would say the roughest thing I saw was an intentional high stick by Adam Pardy (big freaking guy!).

The crew had to come out to fix the rink a few times. This was the first:

Lakings021209 34

They were pretty quick with the fix, but not so with the second one, which happened with less than a minute to go immediately after the empty net goal by the Flames (oh sorry, did I give it away?). The second fix was painful.

I will be honest with you. I didn’t go back to my seat for the second period. I was too damn hungry. And so I tortured my body with this:

It was GOOD!
More Action!

Lakings021209 21
The empty netter:

Lakings021209 15

A gaggle of Kings (what is the multiple of Kings?):

Lakings021209 10

Anyways, the Kings were shut out by the Flames, and the crowd seemed more into the game than the Kings ever did. There was some spirited jousting after whistles, but other than that, the Flames never took their eyes of the prize, and even though they only snuck one past Quick, it was all they needed. Kiprusoff was just that good tonight, robbing the Kings a few times, and never losing sight of the puck.

Your final:

Lakings021209 09
Gamesheet
It felt like the trip was never going to begin. The days would drag, the planning was never ending, the reading is still stacking up, and I figured something was going to get in the way. I am so happy to be on this thing. And to be meeting lots of hockey fans. From the people at letsgokings.com to Connie from the Kings World Podcast, there were no shortage of people to talk to. And I guess that will happen when you wear a Johnstown Chiefs jersey in the middle of a bunch of hockey fans. I highly recommend it. Skating at Paramount Iceland tomorrow, home of the first Zamboni. Then the Ontario Reign on Saturday.

Lakings021209 06
If you want the quick updates, I started a microblog for the trip. You can see it here, as well as subscribe to it’s feed. There should be a lot of content there along the way.

And all the West Coast Hockey Tour posts can be found by clicking here.

Frozen Fury 2008: Better Late Than Never (massive post with lots of photos)

People don’t usually care too much about hockey game after they happen, unless they are epic battles, classic wins, or moments of greatness for ones own team. Even less so for a preseason game with “no consequences.” But the Frozen Fury, held every year at the MGM Grand, is one of those hockey games that is more than just players on ice, it’s an experience for the fans that doesn’t really compare to the rest of the NHL world. Frozen Fury isn’t just a game, it’s an event. There aren’t many any venues in the NHL where you can step out of the game and start gambling. The Frozen Fury is a good litmus test for the NHL moving to Las Vegas, for many a forgone conclusion. While the league looks at Kansas City with scrutiny, Vegas looks like a lock.

It’s well past time I put up my photos and talked about my first time at Frozen Fury. It was my intention to post this right away, but Las Vegas hotels would rather that you were on the casino floor, instead of the internet.

There are going to be a lot of photos, and many of them are not going to be hockey related at first. But stay with me, there are some gems.

There are many types of travelers in the world, and all of them react differently to the various difficulties inherent to the industry. For instance, computer failures. Your boarding pass doesn’t get printed right away, but a bunch of people after you get theirs in a timely fashion. My own sense of traveler zen depends on the amount of time I have arrived at the airport before my flight, and the amount of distraction I have at hand. This was a good day for me.

P1000784

Not that I had where to really go, or anything to do in the Kansas City Airport. And calling this and international airport is a bit of a stretch. This is simply a bus depot for planes.
P1000785 P1000786

Compare that to Denver International Airport, with good food, lots of space, and moving walkways from here to eternity.
P1000791
To see the rest of this, click the link below. I promise there will be hockey photos, and talk about the game. Really.
[Read more…]

Avs vs Vancouver: Forsberg on Ice?

One of the great things about being home right now is the healthy string of home games for the Avalanche. Since it’s nothing but good times and vacation for me (in my gig, you come home for vacation), I get to go to tonight’s tilt between the Avs and the Canucks. I have actually never seen the Canucks live, but they all look alike with white jerseys from the upper decks. Stack on that the Sedin twins, and I can’t tell any of them apart. They guy with the hair is the goalie, at least, according to the commercial.

I didn’t put up my photos from the game on Saturday, against the Kings, so I can put them up here.

First thing we did was sign the banner. Do you think they will rip it in two, and give half to each person?

Dscn1383

Here’s my contribution.
Dscn1381
Don’t judge my by my handwriting. I’m a sloppy eater, too. (Not true, mostly)
I tried to get a few good shots of the jumbotron intro, but they didn’t turn out. The loudest cheers, reserved normally for Joe Sakic, Lappy, and Stastny, were for Foote and Forsberg.

The party was rolling, even if it was a pretty dull period, and then…
Dscn1410
Dscn1411

Even after they dragged Smyth off, and the crowd clapped for him, there was a fear in the crowd. Everyone could tell that things were not going to be alright for Smyth, and the worst was feared.

Let’s talk about this.
Dscn1412

Ian Laperriere goes after Jack Johnson for the hit on Smyth. Rob Blake gets in the middle and stops things before they start. Everyone gets two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. I don’t understand what was going through Lappy’s mind (I do, but come on), but Rob Blake wound up saving the Avs bacon in this one. Sure, I can see someone wanting to challenge Johnson, but the Avs at this point are already down by two forwards, then throw Lappy in the box for five minutes or more (add ten for sneezing), and the Avs are really hurting. Suddenly, you are in a situation where Scott Parker, who should be doing the dirty work in this situation, is taking a regular shift. The crowd started chanting “We want Parker” after this, and got their wish, for a shift or two, but with the lineup hurting this much, playing with a short bench, you can’t afford to lose someone like Lappy for a fighting major. Take a number, and get back to the issue later. Maybe when the game is thoroughly in hand. Since the Kings won’t be meeting the Avs again this season, I can see wanting the issue taken care of now, but this was the better outcome for now.
Dscn1417

The good guys still prevailed, and the only real problem was that there was too much attention paid to checking Johnson that the Avs stopped playing hockey, and the second goal was given to them. Oh, and that the Pepsi Center doesn’t like to replay anything that happens against the Avs. As though the crowd can’t handle it. Even the people who sat next to me, season ticket holders who had been to a lot more games than I have this season mentioned it. I was hoping the policy might have changed, but the Avs keep giving the fans more reasons to watch at home on TV.

Tonight, the Avs take on the Evil Empire (I had to get that one in there), and with all due luck, Forsberg will be in the game, and strong on his feet. Maybe a few goals to get the crowd juiced up.

Go Avs!