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LA Kings alumni players host event to meet fans

Posted: December 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 17, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Los Angeles Kings mascot, Bailey, spends some one-on-one time with 8-year-old local Kings fan, Jacob Melanson, whose favorite player is Kings center Anze Kopitar. Melanson was one of several local fans who showed up at Ice Station Valencia Sunday for a special Kings appearance.

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Local Los Angeles Kings fans got a chance to get up close and personal with some of their favorite alumni players Sunday at the LA Kings Ice Station Valencia Fan Fest.

With the National Hockey League season put on ice — as it were — LA Kings members learned that if you can’t play hockey you might as well shake hands with your young hockey fans.

From noon to 3 p.m., Kings announcer Nick Nickson and Kings players of old — including Bob Miller, Daryl Evans and Steve Heinze — turned out to sign autographs to the delight of a game-starved local fan base.

“We like to stay close with the hockey community,” said Geoff Reader who works in “fan development” for the LA Kings’ NHL franchise.

The NHL and the NHL Player’s Association concluded their latest round of labor talks with a federal mediator four days ago, with no progress or development to report.

Remaining idle and avoiding fans, however, was not an option for visiting Kings representatives.

“We like getting out to all the local rinks,” Reader said.

“When (Wayne) Gretzky came to LA he brought a lot of attention to the game. We help in capitalizing on that, trying to build that momentum and to keep that momentum growing.”

Winning the Stanley Cup last season last year doesn’t hurt the fan base either.

Just ask local Kings fans Ryan Widders, age 9, or 8-year-old Jacob Melanson who showed up at the Ice Station near Valencia High School Sunday to meet members of their favorite team.

“They’re my favorite team because they won the Stanley Cup,” Widders said, having scored a photo posing with Kings mascot Bailey.

“It’s because they’re a really good team,” Melanson said.

Joining Bailey in meeting Santa Clarita Valley fans were four members of the Kings’ Ice Crew who — in a normal hockey season — hurry onto the ice with shovels to remove ice shavings that accumulate during the course of a game.

Since there are no skates skating this year, there’s no shavings to be removed.

On Sunday, ice crew members handed out team buttons, stickers and other promotional items.

Visiting Kings brought their inflatable Puck Shoot and Portable Street Hockey Rink to Ice Station Valencia for fans.

Scores of fans took advantage of the visit to get autographs and reminisce about the days of actually being able to watch professional hockey being played.

And, in the spirit of the holiday season, they were also able to help out the needy by purchasing raffle tickets for autographed Kings items.

Money gained through the sale of Kings merchandise Sunday went into a pot from which toys are purchased for needy kids, Reader said.




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