As Hollywood productions go, it doesn't get much bigger than this one.
That goes double for the Los Angeles Kings, who have turned opening night into a real media event with Wayne Gretzky in the lineup."There's never been this much excitement for an opening game in NHL history," Detroit Coach Jacques Demers said. "It's good for the game."
It also has been good for the Kings, who will mark tonight's game against the Red Wings with a lot of attention, including their first opening-night sellout in history.
The Kings not only expect a large crowd of fans, but the largest crowd of reporters ever to cover a hockey game in the Forum.
David Courtney, the Kings' public relations director, said 120 media people will be on hand - about 10 times the normal amount for opening night.
A good portion of them showed up at the Kings' practice facility in suburban Culver City on Wednesday to watch the team tune up and hear Gretzky talk about one of the biggest challenges of his career.
"I'll be real nervous," Gretzky said. "It's easier to play the game when you're relaxed. So hopefully, after a couple of shifts, I'll feel a lot better."
Gretzky knows a lot of the Kings' success this season is riding on his shoulders, and so do his teammates.
"He seems anxious," said Marty McSorley, who came to Los Angeles along with Gretzky in the stunning summer trade with the Edmonton Oilers. "He sees this as a real test for him.
"In Edmonton, he was always cool and mentally prepared. This is something else."
Since his trade to Los Angeles, Gretzky has been hailed as a "franchise -saver" for a team that has long been in the dumps.
Gretzky doesn't feel comfortable with that awesome responsibility.
"No one man can save a franchise," he said. "Everyone has to contribute."
But his presence alone so far has made the Kings better, as far as McSorely is concerned.
"He raises the level of everyone's game," McSorley said. "He did it in Edmonton and he is doing it here."
Now with the culmination of a solid training camp, which included some heroics in exhibition games at the end, Gretzky says he finally feels comfortable with his new team.