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MIKE DOWNEY

When All Else Fails, It's Time to Try Hockey Again

October 25, 1995|MIKE DOWNEY

I didn't know what to write about. We have no pro football here. Our baseball teams are as dead as a cow turned into a glove. Basketball hasn't started yet. I came this close to commenting on O.J.'s golf.

Other topics I considered:

--"An All-Male Swimsuit Issue: If Not, Why Not?"

--"Notre Dame: OK, Fine, But Could They Beat USC in Baseball?"

--"The Secret Sex Scandals of Senior Golf."

--"Germany to Steffi Graf: Joke's On Us, We Owe You $25 Million!"

--"Elvis Quarterbacks 49ers: Next on 'Hard Copy.' "

I had no pro teams of my own.

Then I saw an advertisement in my newspaper. It began with five simple words that caught my eye:

"The fun has just begun."

I was glad to hear this. Here in strife-torn Los Angeles, we sure could use more fun. Fun is good.

The next line explained:

"The Kings are off to their fastest start in years--but it's not too late to get in on the excitement!"

Well, let me tell you who got excited.

Me.

Why? Because I finally have something to write about! Because we are a slap-happy little hockey town again. Because here, in the Land That the NFL Forgot, let's face it, we were running out of sports.

It has been a long October, let me tell you.

Winter is coming and our temperature is dropping into the low 60s. Soon it will be November and we will be carving turkey and giving thanks for one of our two pro basketball teams.

Up to now, our October excitement has been pretty much confined to the Ralphs Senior Golf Classic being won by Jim Bland.

Not only had I never heard of Jim, I had barely heard of Ralph.

But then I found out the fun had just begun.

All it took was the Kings to be undefeated after seven games. Suddenly, we were a happenin' pro sports town again, just like Hartford and Winnipeg. The Kings are a hot team, the Mighty Ducks are a hot ticket and, just like that, we have something to put on the sports page other than Indian-Brave games and ads for scalp replacement, a weird combination.

Anyhow, hooray for hockey.

I've got chills.

When the Kings went to Montreal the night before last--they lost--with that unbeaten record of theirs, it reminded me of that thrilling month of playoffs a few years ago, when people all over Southern California were walking around malls, saying, "Did you see him check that Canuck?" "Oh, you know damn well that should have been called icing!" "Yes, I've never seen a faster Maple Leaf in my life!"

Regrettably, ever since the Kings played for the Stanley Cup, our hockey news hasn't been so hot. They turned into the Mighty Ducks, only older.

If only the Kings could skate their way back into our hearts.

Why, if things keep up this way, it shouldn't be long before they will be hiding in the training room again, trying to pull their pants on without Goldie Hawn or Candice Bergen blocking their lockers.

The Kings are under new management, which is good news. For a refreshing change, the new owners actually have more money than the players.

They also have a new coach, Larry Robinson, who just got named to hockey's Hall of Fame.

(I don't know how to tell you this, Larry, but getting into hockey's Hall of Fame is easier than coaching the Kings.)

Robinson is doing a fine job. The players are playing hard, and, as of sunrise this morning, none of them has been traded to Pittsburgh. Usually when any King plays well, he is offered to Pittsburgh. Someone from the Kings telephones the Penguins and says: "Hello, Pittsburgh? We've got a player our fans like. Could you please send us a player they've never heard of?"

We need the Kings to do good things. Last year, when our baseball teams walked out on us, our hockey teams went off right behind them. This year, with our football teams bailing, the Kings can make up for lost time.

Remember, it's not too late to get in on the excitement.

Don't forget our new motto here in Los Angeles:

Ice Hockey. It's All We Got.

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