For 15 years, the Kings Care Foundation has been instrumental in allocating money towards children's health and wellbeing associations, including the Children's Cancer Research Fund, Toys for Tots, and other Los Angeles-oriented fitness and recreation programs.
On Sunday, just 12 hours off a 5-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Los Angeles Kings and their generous fans got together to support the Foundation with the year's most significant fundraiser.
Tip-A-King, the annual event with roots that can be traced back to a late 1980's locker room conversation between current Kings Television Color Commentator Jim Fox and former forward Phil Sykes that helped widen the scope of Los Angeles' Community Relations Department, was held at the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City on Sunday and added significantly to the over 2.5 million raised in the event's history.
Through donations of Tip-A-King dollars, fans were able to play NHL 12 against Dustin Brown, drop the gloves with Kyle Clifford and get in a photo booth with Jarret Stoll, amongst other activities, removing the glass-and-boards barriers that separate the fans from the team on game nights.
"What a great thrill for a kid to say 'I'm shooting the puck on Jonathan Quick, I'm dropping the gloves with Marty McSorley,' who's an alumni here," Kings radio play-by-play announcer Nick Nickson said. "The good thing about our sport is that the hockey players are down to earth athletes. They're salt of the earth type people, they've never forgotten where they've come from, and they're a very people, fan-friendly sort of a group."
Speaking of the NHL 12 battles, if you managed to eke out a victory against Brown, just be glad you're not matching up against him in Call of Duty.
"I tried to get them to do that, but they wouldn't let the war games in, I guess," Brown said at the Kings' morning skate on Saturday. "I am a gamer, and ironically, the one game I really don't get in to is hockey, because it's like, I don't know, I don't want to go home and play hockey. So I play all the other games except for hockey. So we'll see. I'm sure once I get warmed up, I'll be all right."
Season ticket holders John and Robin Cawdrey are Tip A King veterans. Citing the ease of the VIP process, in which those who donate 300 for a ticket are provided two and a half hours of extra access with the players more than enough time to get shooting lessons from Justin Williams the couple has strongly supported the Kings Care Foundation for the majority of the event's existence.
"This is probably our 12th, 14th, something like that," John Cawdrey said, while Robin referenced meeting Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and Dave Taylor as some of the event's all-time highlights.
Willie Mitchell was amongst those easily accessible for Kings fans to speak to and made sure that while the interaction and photo opportunities were a major draw, the event's importance remained in the foreground.
"The No. 1 thing is you're raising money for the Kings Care Foundation. That's No. 1," Mitchell said. "I think people are turning out and supporting us as players and our team, but also supporting the foundation, which does so many great things in the LA area. So for us as players, being out here and being able to interact with the fans, where they don't get a chance to do and meet us on a little bit more personal level is a lot of fun for them, and for us it's just fun to get out and play a part of it all and see the excitement everyone has and do it for a good cause."
Along with Hockey Fights Cancer, the Love for Lokomotiv fundraising campaign and the special edition warm-up jerseys the Kings have auctioned off to benefit the Los Angeles Police Foundation and other non-profit organizations, Kings fans have had many opportunities to display their generosity this year. Mitchell also happens to be one of the Kings supporting the Movember movement by growing a moustache to raise support and awareness for men's health issues, including prostate cancer.
"It's my first year doing it this year," Mitchell said. "I have a good friend in Minnesota whose father passed away a couple of years ago, so I really wanted to do it to support him, and his family. This year, a lot of guys kind of took the challenge and said, 'we'll do it, and just create some awareness for prostate cancer and men's health.' Hopefully it's done that."
NOTES: The Kings are hosting their annual food drive through Saturday afternoon's game against Detroit. Upon entering the arena, there will be collection bins for non-perishable food items that will be provided for the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank and The Salvation Army food pantries...Due to an injured hand, Los Angeles officially placed forward Dustin Penner on the injured reserve list on Sunday, retroactive to Dec. 10. He has two assists in 14 games this season...Forward Andrei Loktionov was called up to take his place on the roster...The Kings open up the 2011-12 installment of the Freeway Faceoff on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at STAPLES Center (7:30 PM FOX Sports West 1150 KTLK 830 KLAA), followed by a rematch in Anaheim on Thursday, Nov. 17 at Honda Center (7 PM FOX Sports West Prime Ticket 1150 KTLK 830 KLAA). A special chat, featuring Rich Hammond of LAKings Insider and Ducks Television Color Commentator Brian Hayward will be jointly held on LAKings.com, FOXSportsWEST.com and AnaheimDucks.com at noon Monday.