LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Earlier this month, the Kings hosted a youth camp in Mexico City as part of the team’s efforts to grow hockey internationally.
Jim Hill of CBS2 spoke with Kings President and CEO Luc Robitaille and former player and current director of hockey programming Derek Armstrong about how it all started and where they hope it will. will be able to go.
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The Mexico City Kings Jr. camp was the first time the Kings have returned to the Mexican capital since hosting their first youth hockey camp there in October 2018. The combination of logistical challenges and the coronavirus pandemic forced the Kings to make a three-year decision. break since that first visit.
“It is important to help develop the game… We discovered that there were children who were skating, [so] going back this year, I think it was great, ”said Robitaille. “It’s going to be important for us to keep going just to help grow and then we’re still here. We [will] have a presence every year.
Armstrong, who played for the Kings from 2002 to 2009, was hired by Robitaille five years ago to help develop hockey around the world.
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“[We’ve] been across the country and around the world and hockey has been so good to us, ”Armstrong said. “In order for us to continue to grow the Kings brand and hockey… we want to create a global sport like basketball and baseball. “
Nearly 45 players aged 5 to 16 attended the youth clinic at the Centro Comercial Santa Fe rink in Mexico City.
“Once you get down and see the quality of the athletes there, the hardest part of hockey is learning to skate, [but] now they have ice rinks there, [and] the rink we were in is one of the most beautiful facilities I have ever seen, ”said Armstrong. “So once we get the kids skating, to make it a global brand and for other countries with their best athletes to play hockey, I think that’s very important for the NHL, obviously as well as for the Kings of LA. “
Armstrong said that with Robitaille, he believed it was much more difficult to develop the sport in the early 2000s, when the league added expansion franchises in Florida and Arizona, where “they didn’t know anything about hockey. 15 to 20 years ago. “
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“I think it’s a lot easier than you thought before because back then nobody ever watched it. You couldn’t have television. You didn’t have YouTube. We didn’t have Tik Tok or Twitter, ”Armstrong said. “No one would have known who I was [before], now they can Googling us… Back in the day, you couldn’t do that. So now when we go there they can really relate to the LA Kings. “