Remember those old MasterCard Priceless commercials? You know, the ones where they would list the cost of everything you needed to purchase to make your great experience happen. Then it would end with a heartfelt voice-over queue letting you know that whatever the money invested, the time with your loved ones would be priceless.
My Stadium Series Priceless commercial would go something like this:
Good tickets so you can actually see the players: $998
Roundtrip airline tickets (LAX > DEN > LAX): 1,490
Hotel - two nights – three rooms: $1,245
Gloves, scarves, faux fur hats to survive four hours in the Colorado cold: $172
Seeing the Kings win again outdoors vs. a potential Stanley Cup Champion: Priceless.
That last part feels pretty good. I mean what’s better than going to a hockey game? Especially a novelty experience like an outdoor game.
When the game was announced, I huddled with my adult-aged kids and we decided this would be a wonderful gift for the holidays if I could pull it off. My mom was a late entry into this priceless experience and fortunately StubHub had a fourth ticket available right in seat four, right next to seats one, two, and three I had already purchased. Perfection!
Truth be told, I didn’t attend the 2014 NHL Stadium Series only 16 miles from home against Anaheim. I had no desire to hang out with a dozen or so ignorant Ducks fans and try to teach them why kicking the puck in the net is illegal or why Corey Perry was the walking definition of someone you wouldn’t want to have a beer with. I’m glad I skipped that 3-0 loss and waited for the revenge in the 2014 playoffs.
In 2015, college expenses didn’t afford a $4,000 roadie to see the game against the Sharks at the freshly minted Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. I did get a special invitation to watch the game at the Kings official watch party at the Regal Theatres at LA Live with the Ice Crew and, of course, Bailey. That was something special with all of the tension of being right there in Northern California. When Marian Gaborik embarrassed Brent Burns and scored at the beginning of the third (at 7:59 of the full game below) and then Jonathan Quick stood on his head the rest of the game to preserve the win, I knew I had to go to the next game if there ever was one.
So with everything locked down, what could I be nervous about? Let’s start with these last four games against Colorado (since the start of 2018-19 when the Kings decided that playing for the first pick in the draft is better than playing for a Cup):
11/21/2018 - Avs 7. Kings 3.
12/31/2018 - Kings 3. Avs. 2. (OT)
1/19/2019 - Avs 7. Kings 1.
Being outscored 16 to 7 will make anyone nervous. When you factor in that Colorado is a fleet-footed squad many have slotted playing in the Stanley Cup Final and the Kings are known for having lead in their skates, you get frightened really quickly. I mean sitting in Colorado Springs in 38 degree weather for hours after giving up a five goal first period is no way to spend four grand, no matter how much it unites the family.
Then there’s the whole trade deadline elephant in the room looming over our travels in a week. Conceivably we could be seeing a lineup without Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter, Alec Martinez, and even Jonathan Quick. If they get traded for draft picks, yes, the future will be bright but watching their AHL Ontario Reign replacements isn’t a way to spend that cash either.
Speaking of the future, what should I make of these Rob Blake rumors? Maybe you’ve heard the chatter that consultant Ron Hextall is breathing down Blake’s neck and the Hall of Fame defenseman might be out come the June Entry draft. All I know is that the whole coaching carousel to start his GM career coupled with the Ilya Kovalchuk early release debacle / Montreal renaissance confirmed that maybe good ol’ Rob might be the wrong fit for Los Angeles management.
So perhaps I need to skip all of this worry and go straight to team leadership, namely Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Dustin Brown, and let them knew my priceless experience rests completely on their shoulders. There are a lot of people traveling from the Greater Los Angeles families and giving up seven goals is not an option here. It’s incumbent that whomever Todd McLellan dresses for this game comes to play.
I need this championship core to show me some of that #Believe magic from 2012, 2014, and even 2015. I want a competitive game. Ideally a win. Whatever it is, this trip is investing in my family’s future. This is an experience that needs last a generation. Something when my kids have their kids they can recollect this special game in the middle of a lost season where grandpa took us for a trip to see our beloved team team play outside and they beat the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Champion. Yeah, a boy can dream.
Right now, all I am dreaming of is that priceless experience that already carries a hefty cost.
I have faith it can happen.
Yes, I believe.