For the perception – and perhaps fair criticism – that there is an inherent “east coast bias” in the gravitation of National Hockey League news, the Los Angeles Kings have hosted and been involved in many large scale NHL events.
Los Angeles hosted the 2002 All-Star Game, the 2010 NHL Draft, and a 2014 Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium that was viewed as a major success by the league. The Kings have also taken part in NHL Premiere games in Europe in 2007 and 2011, will travel to the Bay Area for a 2015 Stadium Series game and won Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.
Partly by their ability to host large events, and partly by virtue of their own success, the Kings have owned a share of the league’s spotlight, even if it wasn’t until recently that they began appearing more regularly on nationally televised games on NBC and NBCSN.
Given the frequency of the major events that the Kings have been a part of, it’s likely that the league will look outside of Los Angeles when there comes a choice in where to host such an event, never mind that the club has won two of the last three Stanley Cups.
“Well, there’s no question that this organization, AEG, the Kings and Los Angeles can host major events,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Wednesday. “What we did, what the Kings did in Dodger Stadium with the Ducks was captivating. I remember being here that weekend, and the Grammys were taking place and a variety of other things, and nothing was getting the attention that the game at Dodger Stadium got. But we do have 30 clubs, and they all want everything, so we have to spread it around a little bit. There’s no question that the Kings have been, are, and can be great hosts for any major event.”
That there are highly successful teams in the United States’ three largest markets – New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – is a positive development for the league, as Bettman explained, though parity throughout the league is still paramount.
“Market size, particularly when you’re dealing with two major media markets, has an impact in terms of gathering attention,” Bettman said. “But I got asked that question when I did the media availability here before the Stanley Cup Final started, and it’s frankly more important what’s taking place on the ice. You can have the biggest markets in the world, but if the game isn’t exciting and compelling and competitive, it’s not going to generate a lot of interest. The Kings, for example, had a magical, spectacular run in last year’s playoffs, and I think that was as important – if not more – than the fact that it was taking place with a team based in Los Angeles. And, also, it’s interesting. We talk about competitiveness and competitive balance, and you see it. I mean, as the season starts, most of the prognostications I’m seeing are all over the place as to who’s going to make the playoffs and who’s going to win the Cup. Nobody knows, but there aren’t a whole lot of teams that are out of the conversation, and that’s one of the things that we think is paramount about our system.”
The 2015 All-Star Game will be held in Columbus, Ohio on January 25. The 2015 NHL Draft will be held in Sunrise, Florida on June 26-27, 2015. No further All-Star Games or drafts have been announced at this point.
No decision has been made on reintroducing the NHL Premiere, which brings a small collection of teams to Europe to start the NHL season in an effort to broaden the league’s international footprint. Bettman said the continuation of the Premiere could be tied to the efforts to reintroduce the NHL-organized World Cup of Hockey.