Friday, May 7, 2010

Kings + Michigan + IIHF + USA...and the Spirit of 76(k)

In just a few a time-zone far, far away...Captain Jack (Johnson) and his Kings teammate, Matt Greene, will lead Team USA onto the ice at the 2010 Hockey World Championships.

Surrounding them will be slightly over 76,000 fans...enough to set a new world record for hockey attendance.  And enough people to make a hell of a lot of noise.

In fact, yesterday on NHL radio an executive from USA Hockey (Jim Johannson) said that he expects most of the crowd to be standing and singing much of the game...if not the whole game.  According to Johannson, it's just par for the course when you pack a football stadium (that's soccer stadium to you Yank') full of hockey fans and get them all liquored up.  That's how they roll, Euro style.

Captain Jack and Greener aren't the only players with a connection to both the Kings and the attendance record.  Former Kings forward Mike Cammalleri was at the University of Michigan back in 2001 when the Wolverines faced off against Michigan State in the Cold War game...played outdoors at the Spartan's football stadium, filled with 74,000 students, fans and alumni.  That fun filled event set the current record, which will be broken later this afternoon.

Although the 76,000 and change that will witness today's tournament opening game between Germany and the U.S. will just barely beat the current hockey attendance record set by Michigan-MSU, it's going to obliterate the record for the World Championships.  It was way back in 1957 when 55,000 fans filled (then) Lenin Stadium in Moscow to watch the Soviets and Swedes battle it out for gold at the final game of the Worlds.  After today, that achievement will be no more.

Today's opening game also marks the only match-up that will be contested at these Worlds in an outdoor stadium.  All others will be played in traditional hockey arenas.

So while the rest of the tournament will return to a more 'normal' look and feel beginning on Saturday, attendance junkies will be wondering when the next super-sized hockey game will be staged.

Let the countdown begin in 12-11-10...or should I say let the countdown begin TO 12-11-10...that's right, on December 11th of this year Michigan and Michigan State will back to re-claim their crown.  They're going outdoors again too, this time at the Big House - Michigan's Football Stadium.  Over 110,000 are expected to attend that game.

Will the Kings pick up the hat trick and have some sort of connection to the record setting game-to-be in December?  Only time will tell.  The Kings currently don't have any prospects at Michigan, nor do the Wolverines have any current players rated highly in next month's draft.

But, but, but...among the crop of players that have signed a National Letter of Intent to play for Big Blue in the upcoming season, three of them are ranked in the top 100 by NHL's Central Scouting...defenseman Jon Merrill (rated #20), forward Jacob Fallon (#50) and forward Luke Moffatt (#75).

So, maybe...just maybe...the Kings will end up having a connection to the game being billed as The Big Chill at the Big House later this winter.

That's not till December though.  So, for now, let's just sit back and cheer for the other Blue...the Red, White and Blue of Team USA!

Germany vs. the U.S. coming up at 11am PST today.  You can even watch the game from the comfort of your living room, just as long as you don't have DirecTV.

The Mayor

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