KSL UNRIVALED

L.A. Kings President Luc Robitaille: ‘There Is A Growth Movement’ In U.S. Hockey

Sep 20, 2019, 5:09 PM
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04:  The New York Rangers skate over the center ice logo against the Los Ang...
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 04: The New York Rangers skate over the center ice logo against the Los Angeles Kings during Game One of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the Staples Center on June 4, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A rare event is happening Saturday night in Salt Lake City when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks face off in an NHL preseason game at Vivint Smart Home Arena. This is the second annual event and it will feature the same teams as last year which saw the Kings win 4-1.

The attendance from the 2018 Salt Lake Shootout was a solid 12,367 and that shows there is interest in the NHL in Salt Lake City, plus the sport is growing overall in the United States from players and spectators.

Most people think of Canadians, Europeans, and Russians when it comes to hockey players in the NHL but the United States is making a push at developing more and more homegrown players.


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L.A. Kings president Luc Robitaille joined KSL’s Sports Alex Kirry to discuss how hockey is increasing in participation at the youth level and that is translating into NHL talent.

“It is on the rise. Especially in the U.S., it has really been growing. This year at the draft, I think there were nine or 10 kids from the U.S. development program drafted in the first round. There are all kinds of kids getting drafted from the United States Hockey League and we are constantly recruiting NCAA kids,” Robitaille said on KSL’s UnRivaled. “Even out of L.A., we have kids going to Division I, and this year one of the kids taken in the first round was out of Orange County.”

Only parts of America have the cold weather to play hockey during the wintertime, there are parts of the country that never have lakes freeze over, plus there is just not space to play ice hockey. There are compromises and adjustments of different type of hockey to introduce the sport of hockey in a different way.

“There is a growth movement here, there is a lot of room as there are so many people here but there is a shortage of arenas and that is the hardest part of the sport, Robitaille added. “There are a lot of kids playing ball hockey with their shoes, so there is growth there.”

Seeing Hockey Live Makes A Difference

One way that the sport is growing is in people who watch the game live in person. Hockey is an event that does not translate great on television but going to games at the arena can make a difference and get people excited in the game.

“I think the biggest thing about our game is that it translates really well live. So, if you see it live two or three times and start understanding the game. Then most people get it,” Robitaille said. We had the same thing in L.A., we had to teach a lot of fans the game.

“They would come and see one or two games and then get hooked. Next thing you know they are watching on TV because they understand and remember what they see live. It is the greatest game to see live,” he added. “It constantly moves and it never stops. There is always something happening.”

Saturday night Sept. 21 is a rare chance to see NHL in Salt Lake City. The game between the Kings and Canucks drop the puck at 7 p.m.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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L.A. Kings President Luc Robitaille: ‘There Is A Growth Movement’ In U.S. Hockey