By Barry Janoff
October 17, 2016: As the NHL celebrates its 100th anniversary this season with a multi-platform effort, the comparatively youthful Los Angeles Kings have also reached a milestone: The franchise’s 50th year of operation.
The league foresaw the golden anniversary by awarding the 2017 All-Star Game to Los Angeles, which will be held in January.
The Kings are ramping up the festivities on their own, planning marketing, activations and other fan-specific experiences.
A special 50th anniversary patch will be on the Kings on-ice jerseys all season. Early in in the season the Kings will add a special All-Star Game patch to their jerseys.
Already with a roster of marketing partners that impacts consumers in numerous ways, the team just signed a partnership with TP-Link, a leading global provider of consumer Wi-Fi and smart home products in the midst of celebrating its 20 anniversary.
TP-Link will be one of three partners prominently featured on center ice at Staples Center, this season, along with Toyota and Bud Light (Anheuser-Busch).
Kings marketing partners involved with the celebration also include McDonald’s, Wells Fargo, Staples, Cooper Tires, SAS Analytics, StubHub, Geico, Delta Air Liines, Enterprise, New Era and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
A section at the Kings online store is offering such 50th anniversary items as jerseys, hats, pucks and apparel.
"We are proud and humbled to partner with a global leader in TP-Link," Josh Veilleux, vp-corporate partnerships for the Kings, said in a statement. "As we celebrate 50 years of Kings hockey in L.A. while looking forward to the next 50 years, we believe it is vital to develop meaningful relationships with innovative companies like TP-Link."
Along with in-arena signage, TP-Link will host an interactive booth at all Kings Fan Fests. TP-Link will also seek to expand their Kings partnership internationally with AEG, the parent company of the Kings and owner of Staples Center.
The franchise was founded on Feb. 9, 1966 when then owner Jack Kent Cooke (who later also owned the NBA’s Lakers) was awarded an expansion team.
The Kings began play during the 1967-68 season as part of an NHL expansion that also included the California Seals (which moved to Cleveland in 1976 and folded after the 1977-78 season), Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars), Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.
The team won the Stanley Cup in 2011-12 and 2013-14, and also reached the finals in 1992-93 when Wayne Gretzky was with the team (losing to the Montreal Canadiens).
The Flyers, Penguins and Blues are also having season-long celebrations to honor their respective golden anniversaries with marketing, special uniforms and fan activations.
As part of the L.A .Kings 50th Anniversary Season Opening Weekend, the club brought together original members from the 1967-68 Kings organization before the Kings' regular season home opener presented by McDonald's on Friday (Oct. 14).
The Kings will host five additional 50th Anniversary Heritage Nights recognizing six former All-Stars over five Saturday home games.
In addition, three Legends Night Series presented by McDonald’s will be held during the season.
The season opener also saw the Kings honor Gretzky, who played with the team from 1988-96 and has a statue outside of Staples Center, during a pre-game ceremony.
Gretzky was recently named the NHL’s ambassador for its 100th anniversary celebration.
This month he became a partner and vice-chairman, for the Edmonton Oilers, for whom he played from 1979-88, leading them to four Stanley Cup titles before being traded to the Kings.
The 50th Anniversary Season Opening Weekend also saw the Kings serve as a presenting sponsor and lead honoree for the Children's Hospital Los Angeles Gala on Saturday night. Actress Drew Barrymore and singer Katy Perry were part of the festivities.
The evening was part of the Kings' plans to participate in their community this year in a ”Forever 50" community legacy program that is scheduled to feature current Kings players and staff as well as alumni.
The 2016-17 season will see the unveiling of a Kings monument outside Staples Center intended “to commemorate 50 years of L.A. Kings hockey. The unveiling is scheduled for Nob. 26.
The 50th anniversary celebration will will ramp up to All-Star Game in Staples Center. The game on Jan. 29 is the highlight of All-Star Weekend, which will include the All-Star Skills Competition and an NHL Fan Fair, with league marketing partners getting prominent visibility along with Kings marketing partners.
"We kept pressing the league about how important this was to us and I think they understand that everything that we try to do is to grow the game."
“We feel the 50th is important to our fans,” Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations who played for the team for 14 years during his 19-year NHL career, said when Los Angeles was awarded the 2017 All-Star Game, "We kept pressing the league about how important this was to us and I think they understand that everything that we try to do is to grow the game.
"We have had tremendous support for the Kings for a long time now. We've always had support from our fans, they have never given up. You look at other teams that when they have lost for a few years in a row, they never average the same gate as us. We felt it was important to give our fans a big event and no better way to thank them to give them the best players in the world,” said Robitaille.
Among other plans, the Kings also are incorporating 50 into several on-going digital and social media series, such as 50 Greatest Kings, 50 Greatest Moments and 50 Forgotten Moments in team history.
With Gretzky At Center Ice, NHL Celebrates 100th Anniversary
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