Friday, August 5, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - LOS ANGELES

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR –
SAN DIEGO (PART M) in Aug., 2016.

After the portion of the schedule with the matches against the World Hockey Association (WHA) clubs was completed the attention turned forward. Now it was onto to the games against the mighty National Hockey League (NHL) squads. The first trip of this leg led the Selects to the Los Angeles Forum. It was an auspicious beginning too! Mekkar thought it could be a sign of things to come. However, The Native from the North still had this image in his mind about West Coast fans. It was formed from listening to Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Ventures, etc. songs. Those tunes, in reality, only referred to one segment of the local population – that is, Beachgoers & Surfers.

The Kings had those regal purple and gold clad jerseys and a flair for offense. It was not a coincidence the team shared the same color scheme with the Los Angeles Lakers since the same owner possessed both clubs along with their home arena.

Los Angeles was not considered by pundits to be strong on defense but it was balanced out by having the great Rogie Vachon in net behind them. The Kings also had a couple of tough guys also. The notorious and once former Broad Street Bully Dave “The Hammer” Schultz had been acquired for his muscle from Philadelphia. Schultz would make his mark on Mekkar in the matchup.

There was not a large concern of the Selects by the home team because they felt they could handle this travelling barn-storming squad quite easily. That turned out to be the case in the matchup that night too!

However, everything changed during an incident in the final period in which unidentified fans began throwing items at the visitors on the ice as well as at their Selects’ bench area. The Arctic Warrior commented, “I guess the normally laid back fans here resemble the East Coast fans that I saw on film.” When Mekkar received a thump on the noggin by an unidentified flying object, he led the charge over the shorter glass seeking revenge against the perpetrator.

As he was dishing out his own brand of vigilante retaliation in the stands, Mekkar planted the middle of a guy’s forehand with a forceful move. He had taken one of his fighting sticks with him and was using it like a medieval lance. He proceeded to knock out cold a person charging at him.

Then, a group of patrons responded with a rush and pushed him back down the stairs. Mekkar rolled the short distance all the way back to the front row and landed next to the boards. Since Mekkar was advancing up the stairs in his skates in the first place, his balance was tenuous at best.

At the very least, Mekkar was glad that he wasn’t a teammate who wanted to go into the stands after him to retaliate against the oncoming mob. That Selects’ player never got to join the melee before being smashed over the head with a mysterious item that was never located. That hockey player was pretty much incapacitated after that with a serious head wound.

There were supporters that had battled opposing visiting team players on occasion in the past. This behavior was not an uncommon theme for the era unlike the present time. Still Mekkar was rewarded by receiving a game misconduct penalty and was tossed from the match at that point.

That was just one incident among many in a penalty filled affair in which the Kings prevailed six to three. Mekkar was beginning to believe that this was going to be a regular trend on the tour schedule. What influenced his opinion in this regard was the Selects were previously exposed to these on ice antics in Birmingham and Saint Paul. Now it was bleeding out into the stands now.