‘Easy fit:’ Evans takes helm as commissioner of LAKHSHL
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Growing up in Toronto, Daryl Evans was not drawn naturally to hockey.
His father, after all, had never laced up a pair of skates. So it was the youth coaches throughout his young life that started him on the road to a successful six-year career in the NHL, followed by a long tenure as the Kings’ radio color commentator – a role he still holds today.
Evans never forgot how important the efforts of all those coaches were to his success, and since retiring after the 1988-89 season, he has stayed involved in the game by coaching and supporting players at the youth level.
His newest role is commissioner of the L.A. Kings High School Hockey League (LAKHSHL).
“I’ve been involved in a lot of things that the Kings organization has done at the youth level, and have been involved in youth hockey going back 25-30 years, so it was an easy fit,” Evans said during a break in his day earlier this month as he prepared to call the Kings’ triple-overtime win over the Flames in Calgary. “I was more than willing to step into the position and help as much as I can.”
Evans follows in the footsteps of Jim Fox and Derek Armstrong, who each served as the league’s commissioner for two years. He has great admiration for the foundation they helped put in place, and he’s bullish on the league and the opportunities it provides for high school-aged hockey players.
“The league gives kids an opportunity to play the game who might not be able to, or may not want to play travel hockey, because of the cost, travel and time commitment,” Evans said. “And there are some kids who are coming to hockey at a later age. It provides that platform for kids to continue to enjoy playing hockey or to learn to love the game.”
The league, now in its fifth season, couldn’t be healthier. With eight varsity teams and eight more at the junior varsity level, there are more than 300 kids throughout the greater Los Angeles area playing hockey at an age when they might not be if not for the LAKHSHL.
“It has been really successful, and it has become almost like the other sports that are offered by high schools in this area, kind of like it is on the East Coast and in the Midwest,” Evans said. “I think it will continue to grow, and I think the level of play will get better and better each year.”
Evans will oversee the league and some big-picture tasks, while leaving the day-to-day management of the league to the great coaches throughout each organization. As his schedule allows, he’ll pop in on games and practices, and may even find himself on the ice from time to time.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Evans said. “I didn’t start playing hockey until I was eight years old. Because I couldn’t skate very well, I became a goalie my first year. After that, I was put into a power skating class the next summer and had and outstanding teacher who had a huge impact on me. I became an all-star the following year, then got into travel hockey.
“I just have such a great appreciation for what somebody did for me, and I feel that if I can have the opportunity to have a similar impact on even just one kid, then I’ve hit one out of the park. It never gets old, and I relish the opportunity to give back. I’m not necessarily drawn to the superstar kids, but I like to find that kid who needs a little extra support and that I can help gain some confidence and improve their skills. I go to the rink every day and love being on the ice teaching. I learn so much every day, and it’s something that I can pass on.”
— Greg Ball
(Oct. 23, 2019)