The Stanley Cup final is going on in its backyard but this affluent resort city with palm-tree-lined streets and kilometres of white sandy beaches might as well be on another planet.
Finding anyone who knew the NHL championship was even happening proved challenging.
It has been suggested that on the scale of important sports in the Greater Los Angeles area that hockey ranks somewhere between eighth and 10th. Ranked higher in the pecking order include two Major League Baseball teams, the NBA, college football, auto racing and even women’s volleyball from Pepperdine University.
There was plenty of volleyball going on at the beach Monday but little sign of a hockey fan. Some say they are fans but it’s wise not to scratch too deeply below the surface.
“Yes I am. I live right near where they train for the Ducks,” said Anaheim’s Sheryl Lobbig, who was taking a break from suntanning. “I like how they get in fights. It’s very aggressive. I like the aggressiveness.”
But can she name the team facing the Ducks in the final?
“No, not now I can’t,” she said. “I’m not up on that right now. The Kings?”
Lobbig turned to her two friends.
“Who is the team from Canada?” she asked.
The responses were “Minnesota” and “the Royals”.
Ish Finley was playing Frisbee with his daughter and although a self-proclaimed football fan, he was aware the Stanley Cup final was going on in Anaheim.
“It’s the Ducks and those guys with the Flames,” he said. “Flames, Flames Flames-all I can see in my head is the Flames. They are there every year.”
Many have never seen a hockey game but all feel they have to support the home team.
“I’m cheering for Anaheim because they’ve always been an underdog but they’re pretty good aren’t they?” said LeDonna Bedsaul, a purchasing manager. “I’m not really a fan but I do know a little bit.”
Eleven-year-old Natali Cooper from Mission Viejo, California had been spending the morning swimming and surfing and is about to get introduced to hockey at her school.
“We’re doing it for sport in PE. It’s on the ground-not on the ice,” she explained. “We’re going to do it in our school. We have these sticks and we pass up the puck and we try and score it in the other goal.”
Nine-year-old Isabella Finley said she’s seen the sport on TV before.
“They skate on the ice and they use equipment so they don’t hurt themselves,” she said. “They put glass around the game thing so people don’t get hurt.”
A group of skateboarders waded into the hockey debate.
“I’m cheering for the other guys to beat the Ducks because I am a Red Wings fan,” he said to hoots of derision from his friends. “I predict Ottawa will win it in three.”