Frozen Royalty: Pete Demers Dealt With A Cast Of Characters Right From The Start
Gann Matsuda continues his fascinating series with former Kings head athletic trainer Pete Demers. Read on for some more great tidbits!
LOS ANGELES — In an illustrious 37-year career with the Los Angeles Kings organization—three years with the Springfield Kings, the big club’s American Hockey League affiliate, followed by 34 years with the Los Angeles Kings (for purposes of this story, “Kings” refers to the Los Angeles Kings), retired head athletic trainer Pete Demers bore great responsibility. To be sure, along with assistant athletic trainer John Holmes, Demers wore all the hats of the trainers, equipment managers, strength and conditioning coaches, and the massage therapists.
But even after endless hours treating injured players, sharpening skates, darning socks, ordering new sticks, and much, much more, Demers also had to deal with the demands of the eccentric Jack Kent Cooke, who owned the Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Forum in Inglewood, California, which was the Kings’ home arena from December 30, 1967 to October 20, 1999, when they played their first game at Staples Center.
To say the least, Cooke was quite the character.
“I remember being [at the Forum] one day, and I was going down to the Kings offices, down past his office, and he came out of his office,” Cooke explained. “I had my little girl, Aimee, with me. She was hardly walking. She couldn’t talk—she was a tiny baby. He got right down on the floor and said, ‘say the Kings will win the Stanley Cup. Can you say that?’ He was quite a guy.”
Quite a guy, quite the understatement, as Cooke was very demanding of his employees, often times, unreasonably so. As a result, they were often on edge.
“[Demers had] quite a bit [of contact with Cooke], probably more with Mr. Cooke than any other owner,” said Demers. “I think I [worked under] six owners. He was a very, very unique guy. He meant business. He had that funny kind of drawl—[long time television play-by-play announcer] Bob Miller does it well. He’d drag his words out, or something. He knew the answer to the question before he asked you the question.”
Read the rest on Frozen Royalty.