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Kings-Fox Sports pact is announced, and Wayne Gretzky is present

The deal worth about $250 million keeps Los Angeles' NHL team on the cable network through 2024.

June 04, 2012|By Lisa Dillman, Helene Elliott and Chris Foster

Tim Leiweke drew laughter when he talked about the Kings' long partnership with Fox Sports.

Yes — talk about the definition of a long-suffering partner.

A partner, Leiweke said, "that was passionate about the Kings when we sucked."

Ah, those long-ago days. Leiweke, president and chief executive of Kings parent company AEG, was making the formal announcement Monday about an agreement between the Kings and Fox, keeping the team on the Fox Sports West cable network through 2024.

The Times reported in Monday's editions that the deal is worth about $250 million to the Kings, averaging about $21 million per season, according to a person familiar with the situation but not authorized to discuss the terms.

Not only will FS West televise about 75 regular-season games per season, according to the Kings, but those with the organization said there also are plans to ramp up coverage before the regular season to better publicize the team. One possible example: showing the Frozen Fury, the team's annual exhibition game in Las Vegas.

The unveiling at City View Terrace at Staples Center came about an hour before Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final and had a celebratory vibe — one to be expected with the Kings already having won the first two games.

On hand for the announcement was legend Wayne Gretzky, who was with the Kings the only other time they reached the Final, in 1993. Gretzky comes to games at Staples Center, but this was his first appearance during this Kings playoff run. His presence always carries a buzz, and team executives had wanted him to come to a playoff game but didn't want to push too hard.

He took part in the ceremonial puck drop and drew a loud ovation from the Staples Center crowd.

Gretzky's son, Trevor, was drafted in the seventh round by the Chicago Cubs last year and signed with the organization. Apparently there is even more athletic talent in the family. Gretzky was talking about his youngest daughter, Emma, who turned 9 in March and is quite the tennis player. "She hits the ball hard," he said.

Captain community

Kings captain Dustin Brown is one of the three finalists for the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given annually to an NHL player for his leadership on the ice and contributions to the community.

Other finalists are Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes and Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers. The winner will be announced this month during the NHL's awards show.

Messier, on hand before Game 3 to announce the finalists, praised Brown's ability to balance on-ice and off-ice duties.

Brown, 27, works with an organization called KaBoom that builds playgrounds for kids who otherwise wouldn't have them, and his community involvement has been a staple of his career.

"His initiative in the community, charity work and the foundation he started have been remarkable," Messier said.

Messier played for the legendary Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s, including the record-setting 1988 team that won the Cup by going 16-2.

"It certainly doesn't feel like 16-2 when you're in the middle of doing it," he said. "Every game feels like it's a do-or-die situation when you're in the middle of it. I always remember any Stanley Cup as very difficult no matter how the record is."

Messier praised the Kings' efficient run to the Final, now 15-2 with one victory left to win the Stanley Cup. "With today's parity, 10 road wins in the playoffs, losing two games to this point is pretty remarkable," he said.

Clock reset

Monday's game was the first outside the Eastern time zone for the Devils since a Jan. 14 game at Winnipeg.

"Hopefully, that plays to our advantage, getting that extra rest, not having those long flights," Devils forward Zach Parise said of the extended stay in the East. "No one in the East is going though the time changes and having those get-home-late type of flights. Hopefully, as the series moves on, that will be to our advantage."

The Devils were practically commuters in their last two playoff rounds, facing the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.

"We're pretty fortunate for two series not to get on a plane, going on a bus to Philly and a bus to the Rangers," Devils defenseman Andy Greene said.

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