Robitaille on having Gretzky involved in LA’s outdoor game

It’s getting closer… the Kings and Ducks will square off outdoors in less than two weeks. To help kick off the official countdown, the NHL held a special press conference at Dodger Stadium on Monday afternoon, where Wayne Gretzky met the ice truck as it arrived at Chavez Ravine. Among the others in attendance were Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau and Kings President Luc Robitaille.

Here’s what Robitaille had to share on a wide range of topics, including what it means to have Gretzky back involved in something Kings-related for the first time in a long time…

On building the ice rink in the LA heat:

“It really doesn’t matter. Anyone of us that has lived in LA, we know that by the time it gets to be about 5:30, it will drop down to 60 degrees and get cooler as the night goes on. It’s just the way LA is. So we’re going to build the ice at night- we’re not building during the day, we’re going to cover the ice. We have experience, even us the Kings- I mean this is the league doing it and they’re experts at it- but when we do our ice rink at LA live, our holiday ice, we cover it during the day and then everyone skates at night. We’ve never had a problem. So it’s going to be the same system.”

On skating outdoors:

“There’s nothing like it. It’s funny, we skated outside at LA during the holiday, and we just think it’s just the greatest thing. It’s something very special. I think for our players here that get the opportunity to play, it’s going to be something absolutely incredible. It’s a memory that will last with you forever. It’s just that feeling of being outdoors, no matter where you are. I think it’s going to be a great night.”

On how he expect the game to change hockey even more in Southern California:

“Well we believe that this is going to elevate our game. It will elevate- like the people watching the game. We’ll get a lot of new fans out of it. You just look at today, there’s a lot of people here. Even Wayne was surprised to see that much press. I think it’s that kind of event. We’ll get a lot of people that might have never watched a game. Let’s face it,if you played LA vs Ducks on January 25th at Staples Center or at the Honda Center, you’d have the hockey fans watching. That game at Dodgers Stadium, there will be a lot of non-hockey fans. They’ll be intrigued by it, they’ll want to watch it. That’s kind of the idea behind the big picture. Obviously for us, for our fans, for our players, we think it’s an amazing event. but we really believe it’s going to help the growth of the game.”

On the excitement he is feeling:

“Really excited. This is something we’ve been pushing for probably 4, 5 years. Last year when John Collins and I were talking, he kind of gave us the okay, I think we can do it. I think we had to take a step back and go, ‘really? Did he just say yes?’ And it’s finally here, and they have the platform s things are going. I’m really excited about it, I think we all are.”

On the building anticipation in the next few weeks:

“Well we think there’s going to be a lot starting today. There’es going to be a lot of talk about it. It’s a big event. This city loves big events- this is the way LA goes. They love winners. We have two teams that are winners. Two California teams that have won the Stanley Cup in the last six years. The game itself is going to be great, but everything around it is going to be amazing for the league and for hockey in Southern California.”

On what it means to have Wayne Gretzky involved:

“Yeah, I mean it- Marcel Dionne was amazing, but Wayne Gretzky kind of went above the game and because of him, there was a team that came in in Anaheim. I don’t think it would have happened. He changed the game, he was aware of it. I was playing with him in those days, they kept him busy. Every day he had something to do for the league or for the team to develop hockey. I was joking to him a couple of years ago when we held the draft here, we were kind of trying to do the math, and it kind of almost felt like the day he got his hat trick against Toronto in ’93, 18 years and a few months later, there is a bunch of kids drafted. So we were joking, maybe a few of them conceived right around that time.”

On how personally gratifying it is to him that the game is happening:

“I believe in LA, I believe in the Kings, and I believe I love the game of hockey. It’s just one of those things, I’m just glad that it’s happening. It’s going to happen out there and it’s certainly going to help the growth of the game. That’s what I’m excited about.”

On the LA weather:

“It’s going to be absolutely incredible. It’s totally different than being in 20 degree weather, but it’s certainly going to be a lot of fun for our guys. It’s going to be the perfect weather for them, so I think they’re going to love it.”

On playing Anaheim back-to-back:

“Yeah, I think they want to make sure that that was going to happen. I think it’s a good thing. It’s a tough schedule for both teams. We’re coming back from a road trip and we’ll go right to Anaheim. Every time we play them- over the years, it was always one of the two teams that was better than the other- and now obviously they’re playing really well but we’re there and both teams are a lot alike. Those games now are getting more and more tense every year. We can see that one day, hopefully, we’ll meet in the playoffs and it certainly will be something special.’

On who got Gretzky to be involved:

“The league has talked to him. We asked him to, we talked to him. I know it came from the league. I think it was John Collins and his group and Gary and Bill and they reached out to him and asked him if he’d be part of it. We want to make sure it has to be from everyone. We can’t have this game without having Wayne. It’s so important that he’s here and that he’ll be here for that game. It’s the day before his birthday, too, so we have to make sure we have a cake.”

On having Gretzky being apart of the league:

“Wayne Gretzky is probably like our Babe Ruth, you know? We need him around. He’s the guy that had the most impact on this game. The difference he made- when he left Canada, it meant to much to everybody there in a negative way- but when he came to LA, it changed the game in the United States forever. You look at what he’s done on the ice, it’s incredible. A lot of what he’s done off the ice, it’s his legacy that lives on. It’s very important that he’s apart of the league and involved in all the big events that are going on.”

On if there will be a time that players are able to soak in the atmosphere of the game:

“I’m sure the guys will probably get caught up and I’m sure Darryl will bring them back on track.

On how it would have been playing at Dodgers Stadium as a player:

“It would have been amazing. You know what, you realize once you retire, you remember these moments. When you’re a player, you’re living it and it’s kind of fun, but you don’t really realize until when you retire you think, ‘man, we played outdoor in Dodger Stadium. It’s like when we went to London and we played there and guys now talk about it. Man that was amazing. It was very special.'”

On the chances of rain during the game:

“Are you from here? What are the odds, I don’t know it’s California. I hope it doesn’t rain. I asked my guy, ‘can we check two weeks ahead on those weather reports?’ But I don’t know what are the odds in two weeks. I know this week, there’s nothing. The odds are, the amount of rain we get in California.. but that’s definitely, if you ask me what’s the biggest fear, it’s that one.”

On what building an outdoor rink means to him:

“The fact that we got the platform, now I know what’s going to happen, it’s the greatest thing for our fans and the Ducks fans. Our fans are so passionate, they deserve big events. It’s the same reason we did the draft, we knew our fans would support it. They deserve these kind of events because they’ve been so supportive. When we won the cup in 2012, the league couldn’t believe how loud our fans were, how passionate they were around Staples Center. So, this is for our fans first and foremost and then the second thing is, it’s going to help us elevate the growth of the game. There are a lot of people that are starting to play attention because both teams are really good. This gives us an opportunity to maybe have fans that have never seen the game or new people that might say, ‘oh I’m going to take a look at this’. We believe that once they see the game, they’re going to go, ‘wow this game is really fun to watch.'”


Doughty and Penner bring the jokes to outdoor game presser

Ducks coach Boudreau on Gretzky and the outdoor game

NHL ice guru Dan Craig on what to expect at Dodger Stadium

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