Earlier today Hammond posted an interview with one Danny Zollars. Mr. Z is the new Director of Game Presentation and Events for the Kings. This position incorporates, well, a shit load, to use the scientific term. Z man oversees everything from throw-away giveaways, to Ice Girl laden watch parties, to the Disney-like laser light pregame show and all the music and advertising and hubbub in between.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you may remember I have sounded off, so to speak, on my opinion of many of the Kings’ sometimes inappropriately termed, ‘entertainment’. That first article pleading with the Kings’ brass to tune their strings more to the tone of oh, I don’t know, something hockey related, can be read here.
I’ve been contemplating another article on this subject for a while. So much of our pregame team inception parade rings childish and false. David Courtney’s iconic announcements have been dulled by fanfare that, from what I can tell, does not fare well with fans.
So here we are now, with a new man in charge of all these festivities. While I don’t know why the last man in Zollars’ position left, I do know it’s generally fair to assume if the Kings thought he was doing a bang-up job, the Kings would not have replaced him. I also think it’s fair to assume with new blood should come new entertainment. In Zollars’ interview, he seems to offer us the promise of new and exciting things for our Staples Center experience – although I will say that I find his claim that “for every 10 emails I get saying ‘We love metal. More Pantera!’ I get another 10 saying “Quit playing metal. Give us some country” to be leaning heavily on bullshit. Show me these people asking for Country Music at hockey games and I’ll show you people who were given tickets to go see some team their friends called the Royals, or the Knights, no, no, Kings, I think. Could you imagine Sarah McLachlan playing after a whistle while Clifford skates to the penalty box with blood on his face and fists? Me neither. Then again I don’t live in Orange County, which I’m willing to bet is where the vast majority of anyone clamoring for more country music resides. Bobby being an OC cretin himself can back me up on this assertion. Although I did see a cowboy walking down Vanowen blvd over the weekend. That was highly disturbing. Didn’t look like a Kings fan… Though I can see how when Penner has the puck and is being pursued by an opposing player that one may mistake the hockey game for a rodeo roping.
Speaking of people being out of place, Zollars comes from a background filled with basketball. You know, that sport with the 50 yard line and 7th inning stretch. I am not going to question his qualifications as someone who can appeal to fans of sports teams, but I do have to question how well someone who has no history of involvement in hockey is going to appeal to fans of a niche sport. The LA Kings fan is not your average Laker fan. In fact, it is kind of ironic, in an annoying sort of way, that when I have griped about the Kings entertainment in the past, I have specifically mentioned that it often feels like they are targeting Laker fans instead of hockey fans. While I know there is some crossover, for the most part I firmly believe a typical puck head is cut from a different cloth than your average dribble lover, or drooler, whatever you call them. Dunk buddies. Drunkards? Well, at least we all have something in common.
It was brought up to me by a reader that Zollars has had some previous hockey experience near the dawn of his career. Turns out my research (lol, ‘research’) was flawed when I said he had no hockey experience. I found this link, which besides gracing us with Danny’s toothful smile and semi-burly beard, tells us that Mr. Z worked his way up in the Phoenix Coyotes office for a while, before jumping over to work for the basketball team the Warriors. He went back to the Yotes almost a year later as a Game Operations Coordinator, before leaving 6 months later when the Warriors came crawling back for his services with a nice promotion. So Danny does have some experience in our sport… if we want to call working for the Coyotes relevant experience. Assuming that Danny has magic to work, the Coyotes, with their piss-poor attendance and near relocation-worthy lack of local support, prove that entertainment hoopla means next to nothing in terms of generating fan interest in hockey. Now, he wasn’t the Director for the Coyotes, and I’ve never been to a game in Phoenix, but I do know that I want to cut my own wrists whenever I hear that stupid howl after they score a goal. That being the extent of my knowledge of the Coyotes’ version of ‘entertainment’, I’ll stop there.
Anywho, the fans who commented on Rich’s article a few days ago brought up most of the pertinent points, and Hammond did put forth to Zollars a fair cross-section of the general fan criticisms – though I will say that I’m still wondering why I am the one clamoring for a fucking clock in the hallway – yes I know they don’t want you to know that you only have 2 minutes to go get to your seat, they want you to miss 10 minutes of the period to get your nasty hot dog – so it will be interesting tomorrow night, and the 38 to come thereafter, to see if Danny Zollars is true to his words of revamping the game experience to reflect what we have specifically stated en masse that we want.
More South Park, lineup cards, no Lady Gaga, less cheesy video presentations and fewer run on sentences. Oh wait, that’s a criticism of me.
The benefit of the doubt hangs perilously from my lips, ready to be swallowed and shit out if I don’t see the changes I’ve wanted and we have now been promised.
All eyes on you Mr. Z. Are our voices heard or are our opinions herded? Do you offer promise or platitude. Either way, he’s asked to hear from us, so tweet your hearts out @LAKingsGameEnt.