When it comes to thinking outside the box, the NHL is in a league of its own. How else to explain the phenomenon that is outdoor hockey? Or that, for the first time in its history, the league will play a regular-season game in a city that boats year-round sunshine? It's not just an outdoor game the NHL is bringing to Los Angeles this month. It's Dodger Stadium, on the same field where Yasiel Puig runs the bases at warp speed and where Clayton Kershaw has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball. Now think ice. Right there on the dirt, on a balmy Southern California night, with palm trees blowing in the breeze and enough sand to cover a Santa Monica beach. It sounds unlikely, perhaps even implausible. But on Jan. 25, the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks will drop the puck in a regular-season game at Dodger Stadium with 55,000 spectators and a national TV audience watching. The league has staged outdoor games in the past, but never in a city where moderate temperatures are the norm. Snow and frigid weather are commonplace during outdoor games -- the New Year's Day contest between Detroit and Toronto in Ann Arbor, Mich., was played in 13-degree weather -- but clear skies? "Maybe I'll come out in board shots and sunglasses," Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr told NHL.com. "Who knows what the weather is going to be like?" Frankly, it doesn't matter. The NHL is prepared for any conditions, knowing it can lay down the ice in the days leading up to the game and keep it frozen, thanks to insulated blankets that will shield the surface from the sun. "When the sun is out, the blankets are on," said Dan Craig, the league's senior director of facilities operations. "We're going to be in good shape." It won't happen overnight. The refrigeration truck that was used for the Red Wings-Maple Leafs game is scheduled to arrive at Dodger Stadium at the end of the week, and the process of putting down 200 layers of ice using a fine spray will begin on the same night. Craig's crew will work nonstop for several nights to prepare the surface. In the daytime, when the sun comes out, the blankets will cover the surface to keep it cold.
Sun, surf, sand ... and ice? Outdoor hockey coming to SoCal
Fox Sports West | Jan 7