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LA Kings Hit the Ice in Laurel, Maryland. Wait, What?

Posted October 11, 2011

A jet-lagged Jonathan Quick attempts to shake off the cobwebs. (All photos by M. Richter)

Yesterday marked the first of three open practices that the LA Kings will be holding at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, Maryland.

To address the immediate round of WTF in order:

  • No, the LA Kings will not be playing the Capitals anytime in the next week/month/remainder of the calendar year.
  • No, we’re not even the home team when we DO play the Kings in January.
  • No, Drew Doughty does not actually smell like money.  Even rich hockey players still smell like hockey players.

So why are the Kings haunting the halls of the Gardens?  Well, the answer is a combination of geography and awkward timing.  The Kings played their first two regular season games in Europe (Sweden vs. the Rangers, and then in Berlin vs. the Sabres), in a time zone six hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  They now have four days off before they play the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.

It’s far more work than it’s worth to haul a plane-full of professional hockey players out to the West Coast, force them to adjust to Pacific time, and then haul them right back to the East Coast so they can adjust to yet a third time zone.  So instead, the Kings decided to fly into the East Coast and stay there, but there was one problem – the Devils have Carolina in town and the Caps hosted Tampa Bay Monday, which means that nobody has “visitor” ice slots available.

Rather than going days between ice time, since apparently neither the NY teams or the PA teams have ice to sell, the Kings elected to go with the Gardens – it’s got three rinks, large locker rooms, and it’s less than 20 minutes from BWI.

Despite the shocking lack of local Kings fans and the fact that the schools were in session, turnout for the Monday practice was strong.  The Kings goofed around much like the Capitals do on the off-days, playing to the crowd and attempting to burn off enough energy to work themselves through their jetlag.  After practice, they signed autographs and kicked around with the fans who stuck around before heading out for the rest of the day.

The Kings will be taking the ice from 11AM-1PM on both Tuesday and Wednesday before hitting the road for New Jersey.  Even if you’re not a fan of the Western Conference, it’s well worth taking a few hours to catch some elite hockey players doing their thing.  Especially for those of us who live in the Laurel/Silver Spring/Baltimore area; it can be a long and rush-hour filled drive down to Kettler for Caps practice, and parking is free at the Gardens.

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