Home > Draft > 2010 NHL Draft, Los Angeles

2010 NHL Draft, Los Angeles

Photo Credits: Erik Ennabe

So, here I am, in sunny Southern California on a perfect Friday and I’m not heading to the beach. Nope, definitely not, I’m going to the first ever NHL Draft held to be held at the Los Angeles Kings home stadium, The Staples Center.

I have to preface that I am new to the sport of hockey. I went from not knowing any rules, players, teams, etc in December of 2008 to learning all of that, a lot of history and most recently being able to experience the intensity of the NHL playoffs with the Kings success this past season. My love of the sport has grown leaps and bounds because it is like no other on the planet. The biggest thing I never understood was why hockey is in California. This is a state with sunshine almost everyday of the year which makes hockey the least likely suspect as a professional sport. Over the past two years though, it has become very clear how much California loves hockey and how much Los Angeles loves their Kings.

At first when I got my ticket to the Draft, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go. From what I knew at the time, the draft was just a bunch of old men in suits calling names of young hockey players. It didn’t sound the least bit exciting compared to the thrill and excitement of the game itself. I mean, I could read about in online from a website and save half a day, right? Wrong. Being at the draft was an experience that went above and beyond any expectation I could have had.

Just walking downtown you could see the streets surround The Staples Center littered with hockey fans of all ages and all teams. There was a buzz in the air that rivaled what I saw during LA’s playoff run. Fans were cheering their teams and booing others. There were exhibits of all varieties. You could take a picture as the Kings net-minder or participate in a friendly game of street hockey. All the restaurants were packed with parties from every team, and fans with smiles from ear to ear. For a minute I was shocked, then I reminded myself, wait, this is hockey…the passion in the stands is probably as epic as it is on the ice, why should I expect anything less?

What I didn’t realize at that time was the overall significance of having the 2010 NHL Draft in LA. Despite my team, the Kings, not having a Stanley Cup, it was yet another milestone in our proud franchise. We were the first to bring Stanley Cup Finals action to SoCal in the days of the Forum in ’93 and now are the first the bring the draft as well. For a state not considered capable of sustaining a relevant hockey market, I’d argue that San Jose, Anaheim and of course Los Angeles have something to say about that.

As I approached Staples Center, the atmosphere grew even more intense. The crowds of people were loud and proud.  The decorations were all over and it was obvious, Los Angeles was enjoying hockey fever in the middle of summer. There were huge blue & white balloon banners, Magic Johnson, Oscar De La Hoya and Wayne Gretzky statues were donning Los Angeles Kings third jerseys. And lines of people will filing into Staples.

Upon entering Staples Center, everything I witnessed outside continued inside. Fans were walking through the hallways chanting, cheering and jeering. There was a group of Oilers fans dressed like Harry from Dumb & Dumber, drones of Ducks fans, and even the lonesome Bluejackets fan, but she looked great if you’re reading this! This was a day where even rivalries were set aside for a moment as the Draft was something all hockey fans could celebrate. We were all winners today. One big hockey family together for a reunion it seemed. The excitement didn’t stop there. LA fans got a special treat we hope was only just a taste of things to come. Lord Stanley’s Cup was gloriously on display along with all of the NHL individual trophies. Once I had a moment to pick my jaw up off the floor, I had to get a picture. Only being new to King’s hockey, I can’t fully understand the desire of a franchise longing for its first Cup since its inception in 1967, but I can understand that desire to hold that beautiful shining piece of hockey history. It is much more impressive in person than I imagined.

After my detour around Staples taking in all of the festivities from the Stanley Cup photos, Upper Deck Mock Draft Cards, vendor booths and more, it was finally time to take a seat. This was where the adventure really came together. I sat down shortly before the draft and was really surprised. The stadium was packed. The ice was now the battle ground from GMs, head & assistant coaches, scouts and more to continue to build their franchises legacies pick by pick. There was an entire section dedicated to writers from all over the country and of course, the stands. Fans were out in full force.

This became very obvious when the NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, the villain of the draft if you will, came on stage to initiate the draft. A rain of boos came down on the Stadium almost as bad as when Anaheim visits town. It was official, the draft had begun. Mr. Bettman was followed by Los Angeles’ own hometown heroes, Luc Robataille and Dustin Brown who received a King’s welcome (bad pun, I know, LOL.) From there it was all standard draft formula. Each team took turns calling out their picks, most of which were uneventful. There were the few celebrations of course, with LA choosing Derek Forborth in the middle of the first round. San Jose, Phoenix, Dallas and of course Anaheim received their boos as division rivals. But Anaheim’s boo sounded like the vuvuzelas from the World Cup this year, it resonated.

As the draft was winding down, I found myself ready to leave from a long 4 hour day and get something to eat and the brilliance of the draft leapt up one last time, making sure I understood that hockey is as much So Cal as its sunshine. The Anaheim Ducks made a last minute move to get the 29th pick in the First Round. For a second there were massive boos when the crowd heard Anaheim was picking again and in an instant, it all turned around upon hearing Emerson Etam’s name. This was a shining moment in So Cal hockey for every hockey fan. Rivalries aside, even us Kings fans had to stand in ovation for the young man. This was much bigger than SJ, LA or ANA, this was hockey in Southern California at its best. All fans recognized we are establishing CA as a permanent home for competitive hockey and producing talent with a landmark moment like this.

I left the draft feeling so many emotions, excitement from the overall experience, boredom from the amount of waiting, sadness waiting for next season to get here, thrill at the prospect of the future, and most importantly, pride. So proud of Los Angeles and hosting the first ever NHL Draft in California.

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