LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06: Ice before the game between the St. Louis Blues and the Los Angeles Kings in Game Four of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Los Angeles sports fans are going to be awfully busy this weekend


If you are a Los Angeles resident with a love for all things sport and a tolerance for mass transportation, this weekend might just be the best of your life. Patrick Rishe discusses the impact that playoff games for the Los Angeles Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers plus plenty of other sporting events might have on the city.

10 pro sporting events in 4 days, 6 of which are playoff contests.

3 facilities.  Dodger Stadium, among the most historic in the game with arguably one of the best scenic daytime views from behind home plate you’ll find anywhere in baseball.  Staples Center, whose surrounding neighborhood has improved in ambiance and entertainment offerings.  Home Depot Center, which for me is one of the top 3 soccer-only facilities in America.

Savor the flavor, L.A. sports fans.  This is a Haley’s Comet of sports that likely won’t happen to quite this same magnitude for years.

For the most part, Rishe is likely correct that it won’t happen to “this same magnitude” often, but I wouldn’t be shocked if glorious playoff congestion becomes more frequent. Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA and Blake Griffin is a human highlight reel for the Clippers. The Lakers are the Lakers; they’ll probably find a way to stick in the thick of things even as Kobe Bryant’s mileage accrues. And when you look at the Kings’ roster, it’s clear that this team is stocked with players who are either in their primes or entering those years, with a few defensive stalwarts such as Willie Mitchell representing a few exceptions.

That doesn’t mean the three teams will cause perennial traffic headaches and a buffet of sporting options in future May weekends, but Staples Center has a chance to become one of the busiest buildings in sports going forward.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado