Photos: 2011 NHL Premiere, Hamburg and Stockholm - LA Kings Insider

With the Kings heading across the Pacific for the NHL China Series next month, I got to thinking about the 2011 NHL Premiere and dove into my archives from an old computer to dig up some photos and memories of when I covered the European trip for FOX Sports West. After concluding the exhibition schedule with a game against the DEL’s Hamburg Freezers, the Kings opened the season against the Rangers and Sabres in Sweden and Germany as part of an unorthodox Anaheim > Las Vegas > Hamburg > Stockholm > Berlin > Annapolis > New Jersey > Philadelphia road trip that bridged the preseason and regular season.

It was the second extended trip in as many seasons. One year prior, Los Angeles played 10 consecutive road games, which began with a Minnesota-Edmonton-Calgary jaunt and, after returning home without playing a game, resumed with a trip through Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, Columbus, Manhattan and Long Island.

“That trip last year was probably the longest trip – I mean, we had three days to break it up. Realistically, we were gone 20-something days,” Dustin Brown said of playing 10 consecutive road games during the 2010-11 season. “This one’s very similar. I think the travel is much more of a burden this time around, I guess. There’s a vast time change.”

But the Kings forged their own success in Stockholm, erasing a late deficit against the Rangers on Mike Richards’ redirection of a slick Brad Richardson feed, and won in overtime when Jack Johnson converted Richards’ cross-crease feed. The next night in Berlin, a game I didn’t attend, the Kings lost, 4-2 to the Sabres. Between touching down in Hamburg and leaving Stockholm with two points, these photos from practice, games and around town depict a promising team with the clean-as-a-blank-sheet approach to a season that would ultimately end with the greatest honor in the sport, set amidst the backdrop of one of the world’s greatest hockey cities (and Hamburg, which is beautiful and has its own more localized hockey culture).

It was a wonky but memorable beginning to a season that ended at Staples Center on June 11, 2012. Some nine months earlier, shortly after Drew Doughty signed his eight-year, $56-million contract extension that ended his contract holdout, the Kings’ all-world defenseman shared one of his pithy and profound declarations, one that holds up quite well. “I’m so excited to be back,” he said. “We have a great team this year, and I’m really looking forward to the season. I think this is the year we can do it.”

Rich Hammond shared photos from Europe here and here.) Also make sure to check out The Royal Half’s excellent coverage.

HAMBURG, GERMANY // OCTOBER 3-4, 2011

O2 Arena, home of the Hamburg Freezers, who played in the DEL from 1999-2016

Hamburg buildings along Binnenalster

These two days were the only days I’ve ever spent in Germany apart from passing through on a train. In the limited exposure, Hamburg seemed very clean, affluent and cosmopolitan.

This seems like a good place to blog.

O2 Arena interior

Drew Doughty, who signed a contract on September 29, made his preseason debut in the Kings’ final preseason tune up, a 5-4 win over the Freezers. Icing a mostly regular lineup, Los Angeles received goals from Justin Williams, Alec Martinez, Anze Kopitar, Brad Richardson and Ethan Moreau.

Rob Scuderi chats with Hamburg goalie John Curry, a fellow ex-Penguin who also played in Wilkes Barre/Scranton.

The full bells and whistles come with the larger scale NHL events. They may be exhibitions, but I’m still very interested to see how the games are presented in Shanghai and Beijing next month.

Freezers supporters made plenty of noise during the exhibition game. It’s expensive and the logistics can be tough, but any opportunity to see hockey played and presented across Europe should be taken advantage of.

Terry Murray expressed ample respect for the German hosts during this leg of the Premiere.

Terry Murray, on whether he expects a good atmosphere in Hamburg:
Absolutely. I was here for the (DEL) game this afternoon, and boy, there’s a tremendous amount of energy in the building. The fans were into it from the time the puck hits the ice to right through playing at the end. It was pretty incredible. I think it’ll be a good energy game for the LA Kings to have another exhibition game in a new environment like this. We want to put on a good, entertaining effort for the fans here in Germany. I think it’s a great way to finish the camp off.

The Hamburg press box. The media meal was… different. Perhaps Nick, Daryl or Rich can tell you what type of wurst we ate.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN // OCTOBER 5-8, 2011

Thor slays Jörmungandr with his mighty Mjölnir in the beautiful Mariatorget square on the island of Sodermalm in Stockholm. I can’t express enough how beautiful Stockholm is, and any trip there should pay particular attention to Sodermalm, a younger enclave just south of the city center that isn’t too different from some neighborhoods in Brooklyn.

A quick glance of Götgatan during the brief walk to the Metro. The Ericsson Globe was a convenient three stops away.

Practice at the Globe, October 6, 2011

The New York Rang-ahs!

Dan Rosen, aka Dr. Rosen Rosen, asks Hank a question 24 hours in advance of the season opener.

John Tortorella, on Henrik Lundqvist:
As well as I know him, he’s thinking about one thing: he wants to start the season. That’s the greatest thing about him – how hard he competes. But he wants it to mean something to him. So I watched him practice, and today he didn’t give in on one shot. He’s ready to play.

The Kings assembled in front of a the white board for one final practice before beginning a season that would end with a Stanley Cup.

Dustin Brown, on packing for a long, multi-continent trip:
Even if this was all a North American trip, I pack light and just get dry cleaning at hotels. It’s a lot easier that way than packing four suits and six shirts. I normally pack two suits and try to stay as light as possible. On a long trip, you almost become a zombie when it comes to different hotels. You end up with two, three different hotel key cards in your pockets. If you can simplify, it’s a lot easier.

Colin Fraser. Not too many guys in hockey better than this one. He was nearing the end of his rehabilitation from his foot injury but had not yet been activated. The On the Bench boys would’ve enjoyed the conversations Fraser had with former Kings equipment assistant (and fellow Western Canadian) Denver Wilson.

Game night! For additional reading, I recommend The Royal Half’s Stockholm Syndrome recap of what was called “The Humiliation at Hovet”

Jonathan Quick takes a break during a TV timeout during the first game of the finest season by a goaltender in club history.

Jonathan Quick, on opening the season in Europe:
I think we’re all looking forward to it. It’s an interesting way to start the year being over here in Germany and Sweden, so it should be a lot of fun. The team gets to bond a little bit with a little team chemistry to start off the season.

Ryan McDonagh was whistled for a penalty in overtime, and because there was a walkway between the penalty box and the seating area due to an NHL-sized rink placed in an Olympic-sized footprint, Bailey was afforded a terrific perch from which he could taunt the Rangers defenseman…

…and taunt McDonagh, Bailey did!

The walkway also allowed Bailey to greet the team in the corner after Jack Johnson’s game-winner. After arriving back in the United States, Rich Hammond recalled of the “home games” that the Kings “certainly did have some support in both cities but for the most part they were given only polite applause in Stockholm and were actually booed in Berlin.”

Another beautiful scene from picturesque Stockholm.

The Rangers, who played two “road” games, backed by their own game presentation staff, were also supported by the local fans because of Zucc and Hank’s Scandinavian ties.

Several Kings fans remained in Stockholm even though the team departed for Berlin after their win over New York. At right are the Adlers, who won a trip to the NHL Premiere through a promotion with the team (and, if I remember correctly, some sort of credit card benefit program). Their trip also included a game between the Ducks and Rangers the following night.

Anaheim won that game in a shootout to send New York back across the Atlantic with a 0-0-2 record. It was an ugly early-season game in which the two teams combined for 17 minor penalties – two of which were too-many-man infractions against the Ducks – and 13 power plays.