A National Hockey League veteran and former Anaheim Duck will take the reins of Los Alamitos High School's new hockey team.
At information meeting at a Westminster ice rink Monday night, a crowd of parents and students gasped after hearing that David Karpa – who also played for the Quebec Nordiques, Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers – would be the head coach that would lead the team through its inaugural 2012-13 season.
Though the team is new, when it comes to coaching, Karpa is certainly not.
As former head coach of the JSerra Catholic High School varsity hockey program, Karpa pushed his athletes to two championship victories.
And he plans to bring that same success to the LAHS team, the Griffins, in their battle to become top dogs in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.
“We’ll have clinics where we can start with the basics,” Karpa said. “The first thing we’ve got to do is see what talent level we’ve got.”
At the May 14 meeting at the Rinks Westminster Ice, Matt Blanchart, team manager for JSerra's hockey team, gave a presentation about how the league works, how much it costs and, of course, who the coach would be.
Blanchart also talked about the contrast between high school play and club play.
“High school is a different and unique experience,” Blanchart said to the crowd. "I’ve seen guys, hockey players, cry when they play their final game together because they’ve been playing with each other for so long."
Blanchart added, "You don’t get that bouncing around from club to club.”
LAHS sophomore Jack Surdin says he’s been waiting for the upcoming season.
“I’ve played for clubs like LA Hockey, Junior Ducks and Junior Kings,” said Surdin, who has played hockey since he was five-years-old. “But I’m looking forward to representing my school.”
Until now, many LAHS students played hockey but didn’t have a local place, or even local games, where classmates could cheer them on, according to Mark Johnson, District assistant superintendent of educational services.
And the Los Alamitos School District is "very excited" about the prospect of a hockey team, Johnson said.
However, he adds, the program will face challenges.
One of the biggest? Money.
“Costs are obviously a factor,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of injuries in hockey –that is something we have to consider. It would be a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”
“The district will have to decide: can it cover that much of a cost?" Johnson added. "Because it’s probably one of the most expensive sports out there."
Most of the money for the first few years will come from the Anaheim Ducks, players’ parents and Hockey Tron, a hockey equipment wholesale company that will sponsor the team.
The Griffins are the 14th team in the Anaheim Duck's High School Hockey League, which began in 2008 with just three teams. This year, the league is adding Los Alamitos, Corona del Mar, Huntington Beach and Corona-Norco teams.
About David Karpa
Born in Canada in 1971, Karpa played 557 regular season games in the NHL from 1993 to 2003, scoring 18 goals and 80 assists for 98 points and collecting 1374 penalty minutes.