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Kings' fans excited to have NHL back

Updated: 2013-01-21 07:58
By Agence France-Presse in Los Angeles ( China Daily)

 Kings' fans excited to have NHL back

Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews (center) and Daniel Carcillo fight for the puck with Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty during their NHL game in Los Angeles, California, on Saturday. The Blackhawks won 5-2. Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Clint Frazer says seeing the Stanley Cup in person on Saturday allowed him to put aside any hostile feelings he had over the labor dispute which delayed the start of the NHL season for four months.

"It is LA. It's a great sports town," said the 47-year-old accountant from Reseda, California. "There is nothing like this. Look at the atmosphere, it is phenomenal."

The long-time hockey fan says he couldn't wait to get inside Staples Center for the Los Angeles Kings' first home game against Chicago to watch the players get their Stanley Cup rings and the club unfurl its first championship banner.

Thousands of fans turned out on Saturday morning to view the Stanley Cup which was on display in the square outside Staples Center for several hours before the game.

"I got a chance to hug the Stanley Cup when they brought it to my work for one day during the summer," Frazer said.

In June, the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in six games to win their first NHL championship in franchise history.

Tim Tripp, of Santa Clarita, California, said he thought the season was going to be a wash out so he's just thankful they salvaged a portion by deciding to go with a truncated 48-game schedule.

"I was very upset but about halfway through the lockout I started to accept that we might not have a season," Tripp said. "I missed hockey just as much at the beginning of the lockout as I did at the end."

He said many Angelenos decided to cheer for the Kings after they won the Cup.

"If they hadn't won the Cup, the city wouldn't have been as excited," Tripp said. "Only the core hockey fans would have come back."

Painter Brad Robertson, of Los Angeles, said hockey fans are quick to forgive.

"Once the Kings raise their banner, everything will be forgotten," Robertson, 58, said. "I am glad it (lockout) is over with.

"Some people think the lockout only hurt the fans but it hurt the people who work in the stadiums more."

Frank Amaya, 32, said he switched his allegiance to the Kings after the latest NBA lockout which put the Los Angeles Lakers games on hold.

"When the NBA lockout happened last year I fully jumped on the Kings' bandwagon," Amaya said. "I hope the lockout hasn't affected the fan base too much.

"Even during the lockout, the Kings did a good job keeping the fans notified of what was happening through social media like Twitter."

The lockout ended earlier this month after the owners and players signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the major issues agreed on for their new collective bargaining agreement.

The backlash from disgruntled hockey fans hasn't materialized to the extent that some anticipated.

There have been surprisingly large crowds coming out this week to watch teams practise drills during their abbreviated training camps. About 7,500 fans turned out to watch one St. Louis Blues' workout.

The lockout didn't scare some clubs from raising ticket prices though.

Tickets for the Kings' sold-out home opener againt Chicago were going for $155 in the high-up seats and being offered for as high as $1,500 on ticker broker StubHub for a seat in the lower section.

(China Daily 01/21/2013 page23)

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