CHICAGO -- Talk about an odd juxtaposition in a hotel lobby: excited science fiction conventioneers and rich and famous hockey players with serious playoff beards.
The Kings were thrown together in the same hotel as a "Star Trek" convention. This resulted in some humorous confusion. Canadian TV personality Gord Miller, of TSN, tweeted that Kings Coach Darryl Sutter thought a man in a "Star Trek" uniform was the hotel doorman, asking him where the team bus was.
This, however, was not nearly as fascinating as when the Kings were plopped in the midst of a large anime convention in downtown San Jose in the last round of the playoffs.
“That hotel in San Jose, that was weird,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty on Saturday morning. “There were some really cool costumes. It was something I’ve never seen before. I didn’t realize people were that excited over things, about that.”
One of the Kings, blessed with a thick playoff beard, mused about the different convention-goers, saying: “They probably think we look a little weird.”
The Kings are attempting to become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Detroit Red Wings won in 1997 and 1998.
Doughty was chatting with reporters Saturday morning, a few hours before Game 1 of the Kings-Blackhawks Western Conference finals at United Center.
One focal point, naturally, is Doughty’s former Team Canada teammate, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, ultra-skilled and ultra-competitive.
“He’s up there at the top – I really don’t know who to compare him to – but he’s tough to play against,” Doughty said. “He’s strong. He plays really well defensively too. Down low, he’s a battle to play against, takes the puck to the net hard.
“I don’t think as many players do that these days as they used to. He’s always a threat when he’s on the ice. He’s their captain for a reason."
Doughty equated Toews with Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman of the Red Wings.
“He’s a great leader. He seems serious too,” Doughty said. “He has that Yzerman type of look. Always on the ball. Always ready to go. He’s going to be tough to shut down this series.”
Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier did not practice Friday because of flu. However, he is expected to be healthy enough to play if needed for Game 1. Sutter would not discuss the status of concussed center Jarret Stoll, who has been out since the first game of the San Jose series. There is a possibility Stoll might be ready for Game 1 against Chicago.