LOS ANGELES – The chance to play in an outdoor hockey game, in front of tens of thousands of fans, isn't an opportunity afforded to every NHL player.
So Dustin Penner wasn’t going to miss his chance to compete in one.
Penner will play with the Anaheim Ducks in their Stadium Series showdown against the Los Angeles Kings at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night. Penner was a King for the last three seasons, winning a Stanley Cup with them, before signing back with the Ducks last summer.
One of the reasons he returned to Anaheim? A chance to play at Dodger Stadium.
“When I was going through my contract negotiations last year, I knew that I wasn’t going to fit into LA’s plan due to the cap being lowered," he said on Friday after practice. So I was like, ‘Well, it would be nice to go back to Anaheim and be part of that outdoor game.’"
Lest anyone believe Penner was a prophet, the Stadium Series game was announced last May before Penner went to free agency. Knowing the Ducks would face the Kings outdoors was a motivation in re-signing with the team he started his career with in 2005-06.
“It factors into it. From a life experience [standpoint]. I got one kick at the can, I might as well try and make it as memorable as possible,” he said.
Penner has 27 points in 41 games, having the chance to skate with Ducks stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry this season. Obviously, that was a bigger draw than a game on a baseball diamond … but the outdoor game was still a factor in his return to Anaheim.
“That’s not a big slice of the pie,” said Penner.
“But I like pie.”