Before Wayne Gretzky was acquired by the Los Angeles Kings in 1988, which even until today is known as one of the biggest trades in NHL history and a move that changed the future of hockey on the West Coast of the United States, the Los Angeles Kings organization was nowhere close to being as popular as they are in today’s NHL. Former Kings forward and current TV broadcaster for the Kings, Jim Fox, had his career with the Kings go in a different direction after a knee injury that cut his career short.
Currently a board member of the Kings Care Foundation and the Kings Alumni Association, Jim Fox has proudly been a part of the Kings Care Foundation since day one and even played a role in starting it up.
“Before the days of Wayne Gretzky, we were a small team trying to find our way in a big city,” explained Fox. “I was sitting around with Phil Sykes in the locker room before practice one morning and we started talking about a charity golf event and us hosting one like the other teams in the league,” he added. “It wasn’t so much a ‘let’s give back thing’, it was more so a ‘let’s do what the other teams are doing and not take a back seat to them’ thing.”
“When I got injured and had to retire, I went directly from playing to the Community Relations department so that made it a little bit more hands-on for me so I could try and get not only the players involved, but their wives and families as well,” articulated Fox.
Twenty-two years ago it was nearly impossible for the Kings to compete in the same market with Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and the much-hyped Oakland Raiders, who at the time were in the middle of the hype that N.W.A. brought to the team, proudly representing the black and silver wherever they went. Now, the Kings Care Foundation have received many awards for the work that they do within the community and the things that they do for their fans.
“It’s certainly something that I’m proud of, I will admit that,” declared Fox. “There was a lot of learning, a lot of hard work and a lot of obstacles, but nothing good comes easy. To be involved with the group from the beginning is something that I’m glad to be a part of.”
“Unfortunately my hockey career didn’t take off the way I wanted it to and the team didn’t necessarily have a lot of success, so I look back and consider the Kings Care Foundation as the place where I’ve helped the team the most and I will always remember that and hope to always be a part of it,” added the Coniston, Ontario native.
“It’s one of the top priorities in my life and it always has been. I’m not as hands-on as I used to be but that’s only because they have a full-time staff for that now, so that really shows the growth of it,” concluded the three-time Southern California Sports Broadcasters Sports TV Color Analyst Award winner.
One of the programs that the Kings Care Foundation has to offer to the community is their youth hockey camp, Kings Camp. Depending on what current players are in town at the time, they show up one of the days to assist Kings Alumni in helping to teach the kids some of the basics of hockey throughout the week that they are there. With hockey becoming more and more popular year after year in Los Angeles, the Kings do their best to help teach the kids about teamwork and leadership, on top of basic hockey skills.
“My favourite program is the Kings Camp that we have every summer because it’s gone through a lot of different stages from when it first started, as well as the state of youth hockey in Los Angeles in general,” stated Fox. “Before we had kids coming who were learning to skate and it’s still like that, a little bit, but now it is more so kids coming out looking to improve. The type of player that you are doesn’t matter though, because we’re just trying to introduce you to hockey because it’s a way to learn a lot of lessons in life and a way to stay fit.”
“It definitely has the most direct impact on the community,” he added. “I remember at another fundraiser called Tip-A-King, a gentleman in a Kings jersey came up to me and told me that he went to the very first Kings Camp in 1990 and now his son was involved in it and because of the Kings Camp we got to introduce a father to hockey who introduced his kid to it,” explained this year’s Southern California Sports Broadcasters Sports TV Pre-and-Post Game Show Awardwinner.
Despite having his career cut short to just nine seasons in the NHL, Jim Fox played every game in a Kings uniform and currently sits eighth on the Kings’ all-time scoring list with 479 points in 578 games; eighth in assists with 293; and ninth in goals with 186. He believes that he was just in the right place at the right time for the Kings Care Foundation but he embraces every single moment of it. He could have retired and left the team behind, but instead he stuck around and tried to do whatever it took to get the team involved with the community and the community to fall in love with the team.
“What comes to mind for me is the first time I got to meet Tim Leiweke who is the head of AEG who owns the Kings and the Staples Centre. I was working in Community Relations at the time and he said to me; ‘we’re going to work hard on the community and you know why? Because we should,’ and that’s all I had to hear and I will never forget that because when he said that, he made me feel like it was good to have someone who felt the exact same way that I did,” mentioned Fox.
“As professional athletes we are put into a position to help people more than other people can, as well as helping to expose certain things, so we have to do it. You don’t choose to be a role model, you are chosen. Since you’re chosen, it’s good to give back as much as possible. No one’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes but kids choose you because you’re an athlete so every once in a while you try and give some thought to that and try to give back whenever you can.”
To learn more about the Kings Care Foundation and everything the Los Angeles Kings are up to within the community, visit http://kings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=41362