The New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Final series will mark the first time those markets will have met in a major four championship since the 1981 World Series. They’re two major cities in many different ways: television, sports, ‘90s hip hop. So while the focus will be on the various on-ice match-ups, there’s plenty off-the-ice to debate.
Like their fellow “Original Six” brethren, the Rangers’ jerseys haven’t seen much change over the years. The standard colors of red, white and blue with the diagonal RANGERS is a clean look that isn’t busy like some other NHL teams have.
The Kings went back in black in 2008, reviving memories of the Wayne Gretzky years. But the problem is that there’s so much black in NHL jerseys today that the wow factor it brought 26 years ago is far gone. And that jersey crest could use some work.
We may have had a different answer if the Kings went with those gorgeous purple and gold looks year-round, however.
Advantage: New York
It’s a tradition for reporters to ask visiting players what’s it like to play inside “The World’s Most Famous Arena,” Madison Square Garden, as if it’s the old Montreal Forum and not been renovated several times. It’s not the same Garden that it used to be. The corporate overlords have taken over and pushed some die-hard Blueshirt fans out the door. The “Potvin Sucks” chants still live on and Dancin’ Larry is still dancing, but the Garden has a different feel to it than years ago.
Staples Center doesn’t yet have the cache that Madison Square Garden might have, but they can pack the rink with celebrities just like their big-city counterparts in New York. It’s hard to go a game in LA without seeing any of Retta, David Beckham, Eric Stonestreet, Alyssa Milano, Wil Wheaton, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and so on in attendance.
Since the Kings rose to elite status in the NHL after their 2010 Cup victory, attendance has risen along with the celebrity presence in the building. Not to mention the incessant “GO KINGS GO!” soundbite from South Park’s Cartman several times a game.
Both rinks do a great job, however, in one area and that would be their organists. Dieter Ruehle (Kings) and Ray Castoldi (Rangers), who both tickled the ivories during the hockey tournament in Sochi, do a fantastic job and liven things up with newer stuff, like playing theme theme song from “Game of Thrones.”
John Amirante has been signing the anthems at MSG for over 30 years. Sporting his blue blazer, when he reaches the “banner yet wave” part of the Star-Spangled Banner, he slowly reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out a Rangers playoff towel. From there, the MSG crowd comes alive for the finish. When Amirante is in the building to sing, Rangers fans know it's a big night.
Pia Toscano went from being voted off of American Idol in 2011 to the Kings’ good luck charm during their playoff runs of 2012 and this season. When she sings the anthem, the Kings win; so that’s why it’s news when she isn’t available, like Game 1 of the Final Wednesday night when she’ll be on tour with Jennifer Lopez. It’s proved to be a losing proposition for the Kings and their fans know that if Pia isn’t singing that night, they might as well not even play the game.