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Three pennies for their thoughts as Kings prepare for season

August 31, 2011 |  4:50 pm

Kings.logo Where better to spend a warm summer day than in a hockey rink?

The Kings gave media and a few season-ticket holders a chance to get into the cold Wednesday at Staples Center and witness the red and blue lines being painted onto the newly laid ice surface. The ice looked clean and bigger without the usual advertisements painted on — those will come later — and it was fun to watch workers fill in the lines and extend the red and blue stripes.

The process of rebuilding the ice surface began at about 6 a.m. Wednesday and was expected to be finished Wednesday night. It will then require a few days to set before anyone can skate on it.

While that was going on, Bailey, the Kings’ mascot, planted three pennies at center ice for good luck. Luc Robitaille, the Kings’ president of business operations, said one was an 1893 penny to commemorate the year the Stanley Cup was donated by Lord Stanley of Preston. Robitaille said the second penny was placed by Bailey and had personal meaning to the costumed mascot.

“I talked to Bailey’s handler, because Bailey doesn’t talk,” Robitaille said. “And I heard they were putting in a 1993 penny. I asked why and they said that’s the year we went to the finals, and I said, ‘That doesn’t make sense. We lost. We’ve got to put something that means something to us that we’ve won.’ So he put something that was personal to him that was meaningful about a championship, and I did too.”

What was Robitaille’s choice? A penny from 2002, the year he won the Cup with the Detroit Red Wings.

I also had a chance to ask Chris McGowan, the Kings’ chief operating officer, whether they plan to change their marketing/promotional/advertising strategies if the NBA lockout idles the Lakers and Clippers for a while. Will the Kings try to win over basketball fans? Can they?

“I don’t think we’re going to change our advertising particularly for that, but we are looking at it as kind of an opportunity in the marketplace for people, if they have not been looking at the Kings, they might now look because they’ve got a little bit of a sports void there,” McGowan said.

“Organizationally, we’re looking at taking center stage and hopefully can take advantage of a lot of people kind of looking at the Kings that maybe weren’t in the previous years.”

Some of their plans include ideas they would have implemented if the NBA wasn’t locked out.

“We’ve got to get the Kings out there a lot more, we’ve got to market players a lot more,” McGowan said. “I think we’ve got to be bolder in our positioning in terms of what can Kings fans expect from the team next year.

“And I think if you read around hockey, there’s a lot of positive talk about the Kings being contenders and we’ve got to take that and aggressively position that message in the marketplace, which doesn’t have anything to do with basketball not being here. It just has to do with the fact that our team is positioned to be a lot better.”

The Kings have to tread carefully because their owner, Philip Anschutz, also owns a piece of the Lakers and it doesn’t make sense for the Kings to exploit the misfortune of their basketball cousins. Besides, the NHL labor agreement expires Sept. 15, 2012 and the Kings could be in similar locked-out state after that.

“We don’t want to see that happen to any sports league. That’s just not good for anything,” McGowan said.

He also said the Kings are choosing among three themes for a new advertising campaign that will be launched Oct. 3. The slogan “Pride, Passion, Power” will remain as part of a big outdoor campaign with billboards, radio, TV and digital components.

Helene Elliott

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