To live and watch hockey in L.A.

By Stu Cowan | The Montreal Gazette

Canadian Jack Kent Cooke paid $2 million to purchase the Los Angeles Kings as an expansion team for the 1967-68 season. Last year, Forbes reported that the Kings were worth an estimated $276 million. Cooke, who died in 1987 at age 84, loved to tell the story that he had been told there were more than 300,000 former Canadians living within a three-hour drive of Los Angeles, joking: “Now I know why they left Canada: They hate hockey!”

The Kings ranked 15th in NHL attendance last season, averaging 17,920 fans. With a population of 3.8 million in Los Angeles, the city can support just about any kind of sport — including hockey. But after winning their first Stanley Cup last season — followed by a 113-day long lockout — the question now is how many hockey fans will be back to support the Kings this season.

Chris Tsangaris, a Montreal native living in L.A., was thrilled when the lockout ended. “It was like Christmas Days of old,” the 44-year-old co-owner of the Redondo Beach Cafe told Nick Green of the Los Angeles Daily News. The Redondo Beach Cafe is a little slice of Canada in L.A., where the staff wear T-shirts with the phrase “The Puck Stops Here” and poutine is on the menu. The Kings theme for the lockout-shortened 48-game season is “The Journey Continues”.

Wrote Jill Painter of the L.A. Daily News: “The Kings aren’t going to try to win back hockey fans with gimmicks and endless promotions and slashed ticket prices or cheaper beer. No, the Kings will try to win you back with wins. It’s the way it should be.”

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