USA Hockey Magazine

January 2017

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E N D BOA R DS 40 // JANUARY 2017 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Hockey And Hollywood Create The Perfect Script For Growth "Being in LA and getting caught up in the excitement rekindled my love of the game." g By Jerry Bruckheimer on set. When I step on the ice the only thing that I can think about is not getting killed out there, trying to stay out of these guys' way. I just have to focus on what I'm doing. So it's a great stress reliever for me. Many years ago we started a weekly game, which has grown to become one of the toughest tickets in town for those wanting to play. Depending on the time of year, we'll have current and former NHL play- ers, some talented up-and-coming players as well as some actors who have some pretty good skills. Honestly, I'm the last person that should be out there because I'm not very good, but I just love doing it because it's just such great exercise and I love the camaraderie with the guys in the locker room. I'm lucky to have grown up in a place where hockey was part of the fabric of the community. I'm even more fortunate to have had a front- row seat to the growth of the game in Southern California. As more California kids are exposed to hock- ey, we will continue to see more of them skating in the NHL. And I couldn't have scripted it any better. P ike so many kids growing up in Detroit, I was a big Red Wings fan. And like so many kids, I played just about every sport. It's what you did in those days. I just loved athletics, and I loved to compete. I even played a little hockey when I joined a Peewee league when I was 11 or 12 years old. As things would turn out, it would be quite a few years before I would return to the ice. I was working in Hollywood in 1988 when Wayne Gretzky came to town. Even though the team had been playing here since 1967, the Great One's arrival changed the way people in Southern California felt about hockey. We finally had a star and people flocked to the Fabulous Forum to see the best player in the sport. Suddenly the Kings were the hottest ticket in town. And the ener- gy in the building was tremendous. I remember being at the game when Gretzky broke Gordie Howe's scoring record. That was exciting. What was even more exciting was that I got to meet Gordie himself. Like so many Red Wings fans, I grew up following Mr. Hockey, so to actu- ally get to meet him and spend a lit- tle time with him was really a thrill. With the Kings winning the Cup a couple of times in 2012 and 2014, and the Anaheim Ducks also hoist- ing it in 2007, hockey has really exploded around the state. There are so many fantastic athletes in California, and now a good number of them are choosing hockey over sports like football and basketball. We have a small number of California kids who have already made it to the NHL. But with the continued growth you're going to have more kids in the next 10 years who are going to make it into the NHL from California. A lot of credit goes to the forward thinking of the Ducks, Sharks and Kings management teams. All three have done an excellent job of trying to grow the game by building more rinks in the area and creating youth programs to get kids involved in the sport. It makes sense and is a good business decision because they know when they get a child involved in hockey, they're selling tickets. That's important to growing the sport. I remember taking one young boy and his father to a game. Kelly Buchberger, who played for the Kings at the time, threw the kid a puck over the glass. All these years later this kid is playing in the USHL and has earned a scholarship to Ohio State. It's just another example of what can happen when you expose a youngster to this great game. Being in LA and getting caught up in the excitement rekindled my love of the game, and served as the moti- vation for me to get back out on the ice after so many years. What's great about hockey is that I'm in a high-stress business and it's the one thing that takes my mind off of what's going on in the studio or Join the discussion on Twitter with #USAEndBoards and following @USAHMagazine What's your all-time favorite hockey movie? (Editor's Note: As USA Hockey celebrates its 80th anniversary we have asked some of the biggest names in the game, from administrators to players to hockey-loving celebrities, to share some of their thoughts about the growth of the game in the United States. This month we hear from award-winning film and television producer and passionate hockey fan Jerry Bruckheimer.) L

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