8:00 PM EDT, April 7, 2013
An outdoor game between the Kings and the Ducks, to be played amid the palm trees and history of Dodger Stadium, is moving closer to reality.
Details are still being negotiated, but plans call for the teams to face off in a regular-season game on Jan. 25, 2014, using the portable rink and refrigeration equipment the NHL owns and has deployed at sites such as Chicago's Wrigley Field and Boston's Fenway Park.
A formal announcement is tentatively set for April 17 or 18. The NHL Players' Assn. must approve components of the plan, and the NHL and the Dodgers must agree on financial aspects, including the division of revenue, but no snags have cropped up that appear big enough to derail a project the Kings have energetically promoted.
The game would be played at night to avoid sun on the ice. The rink could be in place a week before and a week afterward to stage community events, minor league games or alumni games with Dodger Stadium as a stunning backdrop. The Kings are considering designing a special commemorative uniform that would be worn only for that game.
The Kings and New York Rangers played an exhibition game in the parking lot outside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 1991, memorable for the ice being overrun by grasshoppers. The NHL has since favored cold-weather cities for outdoor games, but advances in technology and the novelty of a game in Southern California won over skeptics who opposed a warm-weather site.
The game between the Kings and Ducks would be the first of two outdoor games that weekend. The second would be played Jan. 26 in New York, with Yankee Stadium the preferred venue.
John Collins, the NHL's chief operating officer, and Don Renzulli, the NHL's senior vice president of events, visited Los Angeles in early March to discuss logistics for an outdoor game, and talks continued from there. A league executive declined to comment Sunday.
As expected, the NHL on Sunday announced that the Detroit Red Wings will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2014, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. That matchup was scheduled to take place this year but was a casualty of the lockout.
Rick Nash couldn't wait to get out of Columbus and join the New York Rangers. But Marian Gaborik waived his no-trade clause to leave New York and join the Blue Jackets, an odd turn of events before last Wednesday's trade deadline.
Who won and who lost in all of those trades?
The Penguins made the biggest splash by acquiring Jarome Iginla from Calgary for a first-round draft pick and two mid-level prospects, as well as adding winger Brenden Morrow from Dallas and defenseman Douglas Murray from San Jose. Acquiring center Jussi Jokinen from Carolina for a conditional draft pick also might prove important while Sidney Crosby recovers from a broken jaw. Not only did the Penguins get a player who could play on their top line and is one of the NHL's top shootout snipers, they got Carolina to pay part of Jokinen's salary through next season.
The Blue Jackets enhanced their speed and credibility by giving up Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and defenseman John Moore for Gaborik, who is signed through next season. They probably won't make the playoffs this season, but they have given fans hope, and there's no price tag on that.
"It's going to be fine. I feel good about this," Gaborik told reporters in Columbus following his debut.
The Rangers wanted some aggressiveness and got it in Ryane Clowe at the price of three draft picks in 2013 and 2014. The Kings did well to obtain defenseman Robyn Regehr from Buffalo for second-round draft picks in 2014 and 2015 and hope to re-sign him after this season. With new doubt hanging over Willie Mitchell's ability to return from knee problems, Regehr could stabilize the Kings' defense and penalty killing for a while.
Vancouver added depth up the middle by acquiring free-agent-to-be Derek Roy from Dallas, but he's small — 5 feet 9 — and that won't help in the physical West. The Minnesota Wild got a two-way talent in Jason Pominville, acquiring the former Buffalo captain and a fourth-round draft pick in 2014 for goalie Matt Hackett, forward Johan Larsson, a first-round pick in 2013 and a second-round pick in 2014.
Among the biggest losers is Calgary, which waited too long to begin an overhaul. The Flames got little for Iginla, couldn't persuade goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to accept a trade to Toronto, and got only a conditional first-round pick and two so-so prospects for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. "I should have had the intellectual honesty even earlier and said, 'This isn't working,' " General Manager Jay Feaster told reporters in Calgary. "So shame on me, but I'm making sure we're going to correct that going forward."
Buffalo is retooling and might be forced to trade forward Thomas Vanek and goalie Ryan Miller before they become free agents. And Nashville, once considered a good place to play, has become a place to leave. Martin Erat wanted out and was dealt to Washington for promising forward Filip Forsberg, defenseman Ryan Suter left as an unrestricted free agent last summer, and defenseman Shea Weber signed a 14-year, $110-million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers before the Predators matched it. They've always been competitive, but small markets have limitations and the Predators might have reached theirs, sad to say.
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