Roenick: Wayne Gretzky made LA a hockey town

Roenick: Wayne Gretzky made LA a hockey town
May 19, 2014, 11:30 am
Share This Post
Nina Falcone

The Kings' popularity throughout Los Angeles has had its ups and downs.

The last couple years alone, things have picked up — winning a Stanley Cup for the first time in history will do that.

But when it comes to Los Angeles' growth as a hockey town, it all comes back to one guy: Wayne Gretzky.

Former King and analyst Jeremy Roenick joined the Dan Patrick Show on Monday morning and was asked whether the Kings would even still be in the league if it weren't for Gretzky's impact.

"They're in the NHL, but I think they'd be one of those teams that were battling tooth and nail just to find the playoffs," Roenick said. "They would not be one of the favorites."

[MORE: Blackhawks take advantage of home ice against the Kings]

Despite the Kings' recent successes, fans outside of the area still wouldn't exactly call Los Angeles a "hockey town."

But one trip to Staples Center says otherwise, as the arena's gone from housing empty seats and a non-existent fanbase to a jam-packed, excited crowd night after night.

All of that, Roenick says, is thanks to Gretzky.

"Anybody that goes to the Staples Center would be shocked to see the support and the sold-out building that the Kings get every game," he said. "How loud it is and their education of the game — they know the little things that are going on. Playing at Staples Center is an amazing experience. It's loud. This would not be this way if Gretzky did not go there in 1988."