Which city reps hockey better: Chicago or L.A.?

  • Some businesses in Los Angeles try to drum up support for the Kings, but it's nothing like hockey fever in Chicago.
Some businesses in Los Angeles try to drum up support for the Kings, but it's… (Leonor Vivanco / RedEye )
May 27, 2014|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco

Blackhawks fans expected a rough time in L.A. given the team has struggled away from home in the playoffs.

Sure enough, Staples Center was a house of horrors for the Hawks in games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference finals. But let's not dwell on that.

Instead, we feel a faceoff is in order. We even traveled all the way to L.A. for research. Which city represents hockey better?

Fan dedication: Chicago

Hawks fans got this. The United Center turns into a sea of red once the gates open. And it's common to see red jerseys on non-game days around Chicago. With less than an hour until puck drop before Game 3, however, there were plenty of empty seats at Staples Center.

Hello, L.A. hockey fans! It's the Western Conference finals with two recent Stanley Cup champs! Transplants made Chicago proud by loudly cheering at Game 3 on enemy turf when Jonathan Toews scored two goals.

Star power: L.A.

A number of Chicago pro athletes—including the Bears' Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery—have popped up at Hawks playoffs games. So have CM Punk and Mayor Emanuel, jean shirt and all. Bears legend Dick Butkus was even spotted at Game 3 in a Hawks sweater. But only David Beckham on a Jumbotron could make fans forget about the action on the ice.

And as much as Jim Cornelison gives fans goosebumps when he belts out the national anthem, there was something very cool about seeing great rocker Slash shred "The Star-Spangled Banner" on his guitar. Wayne Gretzky and Will Ferrell were spotted at Staples over the weekend, too.

City pride: Chicago

L.A. has always seemed like a Lakers city, but shops tried to drum up Kings support with signs such as "Now playing: Blackhawk Down." Sure, there were Kings fans out and about on game day, but the bars were not packed like in Chicago. And you don't hear the roar down the block when the home team scores.

Go a couple of hours outside L.A. to the Palm Springs area, where Coachella is held, and you'll find yourself asking bars to turn on the game. Hawks fans would feel right at home at a bar like Silvio's in Hermosa Beach, where a framed Toews jersey, a Hawks Cup banner and Chicago city flag hang.

Game entertainment: L.A.

Only L.A. would have a full-on pregame light show. They showed childhood videos and photos of Kings players to Aerosmith's "Dream On." Very fitting.

Only L.A. would have "South Park's" Eric Cartman on the screen to encourage fans to get loud. During Game 3, the playlist kept me engaged from the warmup skate until the end of the game. From radio hits like Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" and Fitz and the Tantrums' "The Walker" to the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" and Weezer's "Buddy Holly," I felt like my iPod was plugged into the stadium's speaker system (with the exception of a few minutes of EDM). And Kings fans were rewarded throughout the game with gas cards and seat upgrades.

Tiebreaker

Well, that would be the winner of this series, wouldn't it?

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