As we approach Day 100 of the NHL Lockout, everything is still up on the air regarding the 2012-13 schedule, including any plans the LA Kings had put together to celebrate their Stanley Cup Championship.
“We feel as an organization we’ve been ready,” began Luc Robitaille, President of Business Operations, in a recent conversation with MayorsManor. “But, obviously, every time games get cancelled, we have to readjust what we want to do.”
One thing is certain, during a ceremony prior to the next hockey game in downtown LA – excluding any exhibition games that might be played – the Kings will be raising a new banner to the roof of Staples Center. Until then though, it’s pretty much a wait and see game for everybody involved, including the fans.
“I don’t know what our fans would say, but we feel we’ve been really good about communicating what’s happening with our fans and our sponsors,” said Robitaille.
Although the Kings have limited alternatives for their fans who miss hockey – there’s always the ECHL’s Ontario Reign – they’ve had a little more leeway with sponsors.
“We’ve been working with our sponsors to try and facilitate some of the promotions that they weren’t able to do (with the Kings, due to games being cancelled). We’re pretty fortunate to be part of AEG, so we’re able to move sponsorships here and there, to different entities that we own. That’s helped.”
Helped the sponsors, sure. But, what about the franchise and its legion of supporters? With each passing day, hockey seems to move further and further from the forefront of what Angelinos are thinking about.
That’s a far cry from just six months ago when the Kings were the talk of the town, maybe even the entire league.
“We’re constantly working on trying to stay relevant in this city. That’s been a lot of work,” explained the former player turned team executive. “We’ve been part of more events now than ever before in the history of the Kings, with our Ice Crew and Bailey and our Alumni. Plus, Bob Miller, Jim Fox, Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans have been very instrumental in us trying to stay relevant – which is hard in this big city. But, that being said, on average, we’re attending more than one event per day.”
Still, the event Robitaille and dozens of other former Kings can’t wait to be part of is the celebration of their first Stanley Cup banner.
“It’s amazing how every guy who played for the Kings was so happy when we won,” he proclaimed. “Whether is was Matty Norstrom, Tony Granato or Lappy (Ian Laperriere) and even guys like Tom Laidlaw, from way back – whether it was Charlie Simmer, who was really happy and Marcel (Dionne), obviously – they were all so happy for us and happy to still feel part of the Kings.”
Speaking of the Alumni, Robitaille said he hadn’t heard the story about Derek Armstrong wearing his Kings jersey while watching playoff games on TV – “That’s a great story about Army though. I wish I had a picture of that for our website!”
Even so, Robitaille and the rest of the Kings staff will just mind the course and continue trying to find ways to keep the Kings in the news. Despite the lockout, it seems there’s a new set of challenges he and his team have had to face each week.
When asked if he’s solved all the problems yet, Robitaille jokingly replied with – “Not yet. But, off the record, we’re trying!”