There has been a lot going on in and around the Staples Center over the past few weeks. Lady Gaga came out of her shell to headline the Grammy Awards last Sunday. Then, after the arena crew broke-down the intricate Grammy sets, they prepared to host the NBA's upcoming All-Star Weekend.
Nearby, likely in a lovely L.A. conference room, some of the NHL's top executives are listening to pitches from several U.S. television outlets concerning the league's national rights package for next season and beyond, before heading to Calgary for Sunday's Heritage Classic. The eventual result of those discussions/negotiations will determine where American hockey fans will consume major events like the Winter Classic, the All-Star Game and, of course, the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
What there hasn't been in Los Angeles over the past few weeks is elite-level professional hockey.
With their home rink booked, the Los Angeles Kings have been left to roam North America since Feb. 1. At this point, they might want to stay on the road. Terry Murray's team is 5-0-3 in the first eight games of a 10-game road swing. They'll visit the New York Islanders on Saturday before heading back to Southern California to complete the trip against the rival Anaheim Ducks.
Last night, after the Kings' 4-3 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, I corralled Michigan-born Kings defender Jack Johnson for five questions (plus one follow-up) on his Olympic experiences, past and future, as well as USA Hockey's now annual "Hockey Weekend in America" initiative.
Here are five for Friday:
1. EJH: What is your lasting memory from the 2010 Winter Olympics?
Jack Johnson: That's actually a tough one. There were so many great things: the opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies and, obviously, that gold medal game. I don't know if I'll ever play in a game of that magnitude again ... unless I play in another gold medal game. Being against Canada in Canada, I'm pretty proud to say I played in the biggest hockey game ever played.