From a Miracle to the Radio Booth: Part Two
Not only has Daryl Evans scored arguably the most iconic goal in franchise history, but his love for the game permeates to all who he teaches it to
Evans started in Italy, in the top professional league, in 1989, when teams were allowed two "foreign import" players. Playing for Val Gardena, Evans dominated. He estimated that he scored more than 100 goals in the 32-game season and had one eight-goal game.
"It was great. My son was just born," Evans said. "He was six months old when we went over there. We had a chalet in the mountains and we could watch the World Cup ski racing from our balcony."
From there, Evans moved to England in 1990, and spent a season as player-coach with a team in Whitley Bay, along the North Sea. Evans had decided to return to England for a second season, but become a full-time coach. Fate intervened, though, when Evans talked to an acquaintance at a summer barbecue.
Asked about his post-playing plans, Evans said he had thought about opening a gym. The acquaintance, the owner of an auto dealership, asked Evans if he had ever thought about selling cars.
"My response to him was, 'I barely know where the key and the gas goes,'" Evans said. "I had no clue, no mechanical background or anything. He said, 'You’d be great, with your personality.' So I met him Monday morning. By Tuesday morning I was retired from hockey and starting work."
In his first three months on the job, at Jim Bess Cadillac in Calabasas, Evans became one of the country’s top sellers. In his first year, he worked 363 of 365 days -- "Off Thanksgiving and Christmas," Evans said -- and took a job in Beverly Hills before moving to Martin Cadillac in West L.A. in 1992.
Evans’ sales acumen earned him the title of "master manager" for seven straight years (1992-99), and it led to a fortuitous meeting with Kings general manager Sam McMaster.
McMaster had been Evans’ hockey and baseball coach in his youth, and while picking up his brother at the airport in Los Angeles, Evans had a chance meeting with McMaster. The old friends caught up, and soon after, McMaster bought a car from Evans. That led to a renewed relationship with the Kings.
Evans, along with Jim Fox, Ian Turnbull and Pete Demers, helped found the Kings’ alumni association. Through Evans, Martin Cadillac would trade cars for commercial time on the Kings’ broadcasts, an arrangement that, in the late 90s, led Evans to do a 30-second commercial with Nickson.
Evans went to the Forum and chatted with Nickson, whose partner at the time, Mike Allison, was temporarily away because of a family situation. Evans offered to fill in, on a one-game basis, and the seeds of a partnership were formed. During the 1998-99 season, Cammi Granato -- Nickson’s partner -- missed some games due to her playing career, and Evans filled in.
In the meantime, Evans parlayed his success in selling cars into a Kings-related role. The management of then-newly opened STAPLES Center (in 1999) hired Evans to oversee the sales of its premier seats, and the management of HealthSouth Training Center -- now known as Toyota Sports Center -- hired Evans as its first general manager when the practice (and public-skating) facility opened in 2000.
"I was wearing three hats for a while," Evans said.
The training center is practically Evans’ second home. At any hour of the day, Evans is liable to be on the ice, instructing children and women in the basics of skating and hockey. Evans recalled the early days, when he was so busy that he wouldn’t bother to change into hockey gear, and would go onto the ice for lessons wearing his suit, tie and rented hockey skates.
Finally, in 1999, Evans took over as Nickson’s full-time partner on radio. At the end of this season, Evans is scheduled to call his 1,000th regular-season game. He has yet to miss a game.
"It’s been a great relationship, a great working relationship," Evans said. "I’ve been very fortunate to work with Bob, Nick and Jim over all the years. Watching them do their jobs on a day-to-day basis has allowed me to grow in my area. It’s something that I like doing.
Now 50, said he has thought about going into coaching -- Evans formerly coached UCLA’s club hockey team to a conference title -- but knows better than to try to predict what changes life will bring his way.
"At this point, it’s tough to say," Evans said. "You take each day as they come, and only time will tell. I would have never envisioned that I would have got in the car business. I never would envisioned I would have got back into hockey, into broadcasting. That was something that I never thought about doing, and yet at the end of this year I will have done my 1,000th game. It’s like, 'Where does the time go?'"