Cup champions face battle to keep hockey relevant in LA
By Steve Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The National Hockey League's (NHL) Los Angeles Kings went to bed late on Monday as the city's newest champions, the toast of Tinseltown and rulers over all they surveyed.
But in a city built on celebrity, fame is fleeting, and so on Tuesday much of Los Angeles had already moved on in search of the next big thing.
The scene outside the Staples Center after the Kings' routed the New Jersey Devils to clinch the Stanley Cup was joyous but it is too soon to determine whether the 45-year-old franchise's first championship will be enough to increase its fan base.
While the eighth-seeded Kings' march to the Stanley Cup was as compelling as any imagined by a Hollywood screenwriter, large swaths of the sprawling metropolis seemed uninterested that the they were even competing for a league title.
The seed planted 45 years ago by an ambitious NHL looking to expand into the American south by placing a franchise in Los Angeles is finally bearing fruit, but there is still much work ahead for a league looking to grab a greater share of a highly competitive sporting marketplace.
"We know there are 16 million people here and we know we have 2.5 million hockey fans, we've done our research," said Luc Robitaille, who spent his entire Hall of Fame career with the Kings and is now the team's president of business operations.
"We are very familiar with who likes hockey in southern California. ... We know they are not all LA Kings fans but we are trying to reach them all. We know if we do that we are going to be very happy with what we are doing."
The Kings have established a solid fan base, selling out almost every home game this season with an average attendance of 17,920 per game. Continued...