What’s 91 + 94? The answer isn’t 185, though that’s what the math would say. It’s the sum of the hockey affection of Robert Benedict and his son Tyler. They and Sam Black were at the Classic Auto Show in LA on Sunday morning. Tyler had a Blues Tarasenko sweater on. Robert’s was a Kings’ Smyth #94.
There has to be a story there. You’re likely to see Smyth logo wear in an NHL arena, sure, but on the back of an Edmonton sweater. Why LA and Smyth?
Robert’s a Detroit native, and he’s loved hockey since he was a kid. He’s all about the Red Wings, and the first hockey paraphernalia he owned was a Red Wings jacket his mom bought him when he was a kid. So why is he wearing LA gear now?
“I love LA, and I love hockey,” he said, adding, “When we’re in St. Louis [where they live now] and we go to a game, we wear Blues stuff. We [he and Tyler] have matching Tarasenko jerseys.” But there’s an exception. “When the Red Wings are there, that’s what I wear,” he indicated.
That got me thinking about another anomaly. Someone from St. Louis loving an LA sports team. Ever hear of the Rams? Probably no love lost there. I brought it up, and Robert’s response was immediate. “You don’t see too many LA Rams jerseys in St. Louis these days. Everyone’s selling all that stuff off.”
“That’s why it’s mostly hockey stuff in town now. You can tell when it’s the day of the game. People wear their jerseys all over town.” He’s aware of the history of the team, the fact that they went to the Finals back in the 1960s just after expansion. He says there’s still tradition in the city.
This conversation took place the morning the NHL All-Star game was to take place later in the afternoon at Staples Center, next door. Which is something else that doesn’t add up. Hockey? Cars? Is there a connection?
Not exactly. It’s just that the Benedicts and a friend, Sam Black, were in town for the All-Star game and decided to take in the car show as a way to pass time in the morning. Robert’s hope, not so secret (he told me, anyway) was to get Tyler interested in classic cars. Maybe get the young man thinking about a career in restoration, or paint.
Tyler’s already into it. He’s hoping for a Mustang; anything from the 1960s would do.
The trip was made easier because the Sam and Robert work for the airlines doing outside work at the airport—Sam here in LA and Robert in St. Louis now. Thus as long as there are seats available, they fly free.
I asked Tyler whether that was the key to his trip to the game. He looked at his father. “I asked him a couple of weeks ago if we could go,” he said, “We bought the tickets online.” They stay at a mobile home lot for airline employees right off the runway at LAX. Next time you fly in there, look off to the south side of the plane and give a wave. Sam’s likely there.
So they took in the sight of something around 800 classic cars (see my reports on the weekend show at www.lacar.com), Then headed over to the game. There, Tyler would likely have enjoyed seeing his player, Tarasenko, who took a pass from Seguin and roofed the puck from the dot on the left side of the ice. It was the Central Division’s third goal in an eventual 10-3 loss. That would have ended the evening for the St. Louis Blues player. His expectations were not just for his Blues player (co-favorite in a way, with goalie Bryan Allen). He also wanted to see Crosby and Ovechkin play.
Sam had a good idea. The Fan Fair, he noticed, had lots of kids around, but very few players. Sure, a few were there to sign autographs, but what about a bigger presence, mingling, to give young fans some contact. Something to keep in mind for next year.