Although Joe Thornton and Dustin Brown might not agree on much else over the next two weeks, both captains believe hockey has never been bigger or better in California, from the thriving youth game all the way to their state's three winning NHL clubs.
The San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings are eager to highlight this renaissance in their second-round playoff series. It's the fourth postseason meeting between Golden State teams, but the first beyond the opening round.
Judging by the rivals' two stacked rosters and the series' high stakes, everything is in place for a California classic.
''It's pretty cool,'' Thornton said Monday before the Sharks' 45-minute flight south. ''Hockey is big out here now. You have a lot of youngsters playing, a lot of older people, too. Hockey is thriving out here in the West.''
Starting in the series opener Tuesday night at Staples Center, the defense-first Kings and the skill-laden Shark...