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Kings pregame: The state of hockey

March 29, 2010 |  6:05 pm

Xcelcenter_600

The Wild's home arena, the Xcel Energy Center (above), might be the best hockey arena in the NHL. It's a hockey-first venue, which means the sightlines were designed primarily for hockey, unlike many of the multi-use arenas around the NHL.

And you know you're in a hockey place the minute you walk into the lobby: the jersey of every high school hockey team in the state is represented, and there are more than 150 boys' teams alone, so there are enough jerseys to circle the place.

The Wild has applied to host the 2011 NHL entry draft -- this year's draft will be at Staples Center in June -- and to host the Winter Classic on New Year's Day of 2012. Possible sites for that game are Target Field, which is the Twins' new stadium, and TCF Bank Stadium, the University of Minnesota's football stadium. The Frozen Four -- the NCAA hockey equivalent of college basketball's Final Four -- will be at Xcel Energy Center next year.

Two more tidbits: the Wild was expecting its 406th consecutive sellout, which includes every preseason, regular-season and playoff game in team history. That's the third-longest sellout streak in NHL history, behind Colorado's 487 and Detroit's 452.

And the local celebrity chosen to declare "Let's Play Hockey!" before the opening puck drop between the Wild and Kings on Monday was former UCLA standout Kevin Love of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

More during the game at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott, reporting from St. Paul, Minn.

Photo credit: Tom Olmscheid / Associated Press

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