It's not going to happen, of course, but King fans voiced their opinion loud and clear Thursday night about the new protective netting at Staples Center:
Take it down.
The netting, a black nylon mesh shielding pucks from flying into the stands behind the goals and in the corners, was mandated in June by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman after a 13-year-old girl was struck in the head by a puck last March during a game at Columbus, Ohio, and died two days later.
"It's hard enough to see the puck at the other end, and this obscures it even more," said Mark Benson of Whittier, a season-ticket-holder watching from behind the south goal as the Kings opened their exhibition season with a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in front of 13,751. "I might as well just go home and watch on TV. I don't want to come to any more games if it's going to be like this."
Said Paula Frankel of Porter Ranch, a season-ticket-holder attending the game with children William, 10, Heather, 8, and Lucas, 4: "Obviously, it's safer, but it's more difficult to follow the puck. I mean, the puck's black, the net's black.
"But who knows? Maybe it will just take some adjustment."
That's what the Kings hope.
"The first reaction is always going to be the worst reaction," said Kurt Schwartzkopf, the club's vice president of sales and marketing, "but I think after a while they're going to get used to it."
If not, Schwartzkopf said, the Kings will try to find them new seats.
Stanislav Chistov, who signed with the Mighty Ducks this summer after they picked him fifth in the 2001 draft, scored a goal and had an assist in the Ducks' 5-3 victory over the Kings in a rookie game at Arrowhead Pond.