Hockey vs. hokey: Who came out ahead?

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

So there really is a fine line between hockey and hokey.

They found it, crossed it, circled back, went offside a few more times, and by then it was too late to go back Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

In true NHL-creates-Hollywood-stereotype form, the portable rink they set up for the Kings and Ducks to play apparently wasn’t enough. They had to add a volleyball court in left field, a roller rink at home plate, let some fans on the field to do yoga stretching and Frisbee throwing, then set up a rock stage foaming with dry ice in right field amidst the palm trees.

It was just one bubbling hot tub away from an XFL game. (Ask anyone at NBC with a short memory if they get that reference).

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

We did fear the worst with an outdoor rinky-dink event like this. It couldn’t possibly live up the hype we kept giving it, right? Especially after the Ducks put two quick goals up on the board in the first period and took the Dodger Stadium crowd out of it, and even a Kyle Clifford-Tim Jackman second-period “brawl” seemed to be as contrived as anything else.

To those who went out, enjoyed themselves, had a rare January Dodger Dog and come home wondering what that Kabuki Theater thing was all about, bless you. If it brought Wayne Gretzky out of NHL hibernation and in front of Kings Nation one more time, all the better.

(Where were the fans, by the way? We hardly heard a peep out of anyone in the crowd, let alone saw anyone there. It’s a huge difference when there are no folks crowded around the glass. Go back to that ’91 game in Vegas. At least they let people see the game up close in grandstands built near the playing surface.)

For those like us who ended up watching at home, confusing NBC’s camera work on KISS with a stadium “Kiss-Cam,” and then logically wondering, “What ever happened to Spinal Tap?” we admit we did miss Bob Miller and Jim Fox on the call (Anson Carter?), but at least we didn’t have to high-stick the traffic coming home.

We asked NHL COO John Collins last week if he worried that this whole event would come off as being too “tricked up” for those watching around the country trying to figure out why people still live in L.A., he replied.: “The core presentation is the game, and once the puck drops, there’s two points on the line and the game is ultimately what matters. I don’t think it’s a three-ring circus.”

 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

But then why did all that other stuff seem to keep getting mentioned, shown, replayed and treated as if it was an essential part of what happened? Even the broadcasters kept wondering if the “pomp and circumstance” had an affect on how sluggish the Kings came out in the eventual 3-0 loss.

There’s got to be some second guessing as to why KISS and its hydrological stage antics were really necessary to be involved in any of this. The real fear had to be which would melt first: The ice, or Gene Simmons’ makeup?

Vanilla Ice might have been less archaic and more name-suitable for this venue. Along with LL Cool J, if you’re trying to tap into someone a little more contemporary with the Grammy Awards crowd chilling out before Sunday’s ceremony.

Can we get another shot of Tom Arnold, by the way? We had him already deceased in our latest dead pool. Thanks for the clarification. Send him over to the volleyball court with all the other burnouts.

At the end of the night, this outdoor game kind of reminds us of the Donald Trump golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes. The surroundings, the weather and the atmosphere are really pretty perfect as it is. But then the orange-haired mogul decided the first hole needed a huge built-in waterfall next to the green. Another hole on the back nine also has a big, noisy water pageantry. Because we need a distraction from the true beauty of the Pacific Ocean view?

There’s no need to re-invent it, then overcharge for the privilege of playing the course. Same for fans who just want to see two So Cal rivals play each other under the stars of a downtown L.A. evening.

Dial it back, focus on the game, and it’s just as cool. Do it again in L.A.? Sure, try the Coliseum next. Or even a more intimate StubHub Center, where the shape is more inclined to watching hockey. Go easy in the ticket prices and parking. And make sure we’re staying green with all this planning.

They just poured some 30,000 gallons of water to make that portable rink, yet they’re telling us to take five-minute showers because California is in dire drought conditions. That’s just the icing on the whole evening.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller throws his bottle into the crowd after an Saturday's win against the Kings at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller throws his bottle into the crowd after an Saturday’s win against the Kings at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

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