Tue Apr 19 12:06pm EDT
In summary: Purdy believes Staples Center has no atmosphere, no character and poses no threat to a visiting team as a home-ice advantage to the Kings. "HP Pavilion can be a Metallica concert when the puck drops, Staples is more of a Kenny G experience," he wrote.
That triple tier of hey-look-at-us-and-our-Cristal-champagne-glasses was just perfect for a city of showoff glitterati. But by necessity, the design led to all upper-deck cheaper seats (and louder fans) being pushed higher into the rafters.
This might explain why, over the years, the Sharks have found Staples to be so friendly. Their record in the building is 18-10, plus three ties (under the old point system) and two shootout losses.
Might also have something to do with the arena opening in 1999 and the Kings missing the playoffs from 2002-2009. Other Purdy nuggets:
• "Of course, if you were watching Game 1 and Game 2 closely, then you noticed that the Kings were usually able to get defensemen Rob Scuderi(notes) and Willie Mitchell(notes) onto the ice against the Sharks' top line of Joe Thornton(notes), Patrick Marleau(notes) and Devin Setoguchi(notes)."
Watching how closely, exactly? Scuderi and Mitchell aren't defensive partners. If Purdy's point was that having the last change in L.A. will help Terry Murray match either Doughty/Mitchell or Johnson/Scuderi with the Thornton line … well, that wasn't really a struggle in San Jose, considering Scuderi and Mitchell play on two different pairings.
• Finally, he dogs the celebrity element at Kings home games: "The Los Angeles hockey fan 'celebrity' list tends to run along the less-ritzy lines of comedian Martin Short, actor Cuba Gooding Jr. and talk show host Craig Ferguson." Yeah, call us when these goddesses show up for a Sharks game.
This column has not gone over well with Kings or Sharks fans.
In essence, the building's atmosphere has zero importance on the games that will be played, a non-factor.
Which makes one wonder why an article (that spends its 768 words alluding to an element of the game that is admitted to be non-essential in the opening paragraphs) is being written at all.
Toss in a clarification that Douglas Murray is not related to Terry Murray (helpful), statistics that first "prove" the theory and then subsequently refute it (goals per game historically vs. this season-- insightful), one obligatory "Los Tiburones" toss-in (refreshing), a couple assorted quotes from Sharks players and coaches (authoritative), and you've got yourself a nice little meandering journey through the monotony of playoff coverage.
So, here's the deal Purdy, you want to ask 'How tough a place is Staples to play, really?' I have a suggestion for you, a personal invitation if you will...
You complained about the height of Staples and think it prevents the building from getting loud - well, leave your press box seat. Come sit next to me for one game.
Section 119, row 9.
You'll see why men of far greater importance than you -- players like Shane Doan(notes), Brenden Morrow(notes), Chris Chelios(notes), Jeremy Roenick(notes), Ray Whitney(notes) and a list infinitely longer than even the number of times the Sharks have choked in the playoffs -- have all called it one of the toughest buildings in the league.
You could have said Los Angeles is the Dodgers' town or even the Lakers' town and I would have let it go. But, Staples Center is the house that Gretzky built. The Kings fans who fill it are, by far, the most passionate group of sports fans in Southern California.
Purdy's is a troll-bait column, and a nonsensical one at that: What local writer lights a fire under the asses of the opposing fan base in a 1-1 series headed back Los Angeles?
With support like that, no wonder the San Jose Sharks have as many Stanley Cup Finals appearances as Metallica and Kenny G. Combined.