NHL puts down ice in Dodger Stadium
Kings, Ducks to play outdoors on Jan. 25
LOS ANGELES – Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille squinted into brilliant sunshine Monday as the 18-wheel truck carrying the NHL’s portable refrigeration units pulled up to the outfield entrance to Dodger Stadium.
In less than two weeks, their Los Angeles Kings and the rival Anaheim Ducks will turn Chavez Ravine into California’s version of a winter wonderland. The NHL is staging its first warm-weather outdoor game on a hockey rink flanked by a beach volleyball court and a below-ground swimming pool in the famed baseball stadium’s outfield.
The NHL ice-makers were already at work on a beautiful 79-degree day, and Gretzky can’t wait to see the next step in the evolution of a sport that didn’t bloom in the California sun until the Great One moved to L.A. in 1988.
“I’m very proud that I was a piece of the group that was sort of responsible for stamping hockey into this area,” Gretzky said.
The game will be a landmark for hockey in the American Southwest.
The game will be played after the sun goes down on Jan. 25.
The NHL ice crews are putting down the foundation for the rink over the next few days. They will work entirely at night, gradually building up the ice sheet in colder temperatures while keeping it covered during the day.
NHL ice specialist Dan Craig is intrigued by the challenge of a warm-weather game, but confident his crew will deliver a workable surface – although he won’t be getting much sleep over the next two weeks while working through the nights.
Gretzky and Robitaille also aren’t worried. After all, they both remember the Kings’ outdoor exhibition game in 1991 in Las Vegas, where the biggest hitch was a grasshopper invasion of the ice.
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