January 26th, 2014, 03:45 AM #1
L.A. shows off its hockey passion (ESPN.com)
When Wayne Gretzky walked out of the dugout club at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, he looked out onto the field and smiled when he saw the hockey rink built between first and third base and the adjacent street hockey rink built in front of the pitcher's mound.
Gretzky was flanked by his wife, Janet, and his children, Paulina, Emma, Tristan, Ty and Trevor. When Gretzky first arrived in Los Angeles in 1988 after being traded to the Los Angeles Kings from the Edmonton Oilers, he never could have envisioned watching a hockey game at a sold-out Dodger Stadium. Just the thought of another NHL team being in nearby Anaheim was beyond comprehension back then.
Then again, so was the thought of seeing hundreds of street hockey rinks like the one built at Dodger Stadium becoming commonplace throughout Southern California. "My first year in L.A. we were living in the [San Fernando] Valley, and we used to go by this set of tennis courts," Gretzky said. "I remember we were stopped at this traffic light one time, and I said to my wife, 'You know, back home, kids were playing inline hockey or ball hockey on these tennis courts.' I didn't think much of it, and two years later, I went by the same tennis court and there was a sign that said, 'No ball hockey allowed.' I remember thinking, 'We've come a long way.'"
Read more: NHL's Stadium Series at Dodger Stadium shows how far hockey has come in Los Angeles - ESPN Los Angeles