Preview Professor: The Los Angeles Aqueduct

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The Los Angeles Aqueduct

This week in California history, the Los Angeles Aqueduct began gushing water on 5 November 1913. In the late nineteenth century, Los Angeles had grown considerably and by 1900 it was estimated that 40% of California’s population either lived in the San Francisco Bay Area or Greater Los Angeles. Consequently, with LA’s population on the rise, the availability of water had become a pressing issue. To alleviate concerns, the city tabled plans to tap the Owens River (240 miles away) and under the purview of city engineer, William Mulholland, the project began in earnest in September 1905. The Los Angeles Aqueduct was a modern engineering marvel. To bring water to parched Angelenos, a 235 mile network of dams, reservoirs, flumes, and canals were constructed over the incredible span of just six years.

Tunnel

Los Angeles Kings at St. Louis Blues, 5:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: LAK 7-4-0 (2nd in the Pacific); STL 8-2-1 (2nd in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Jeff Carter (4G, 6A); Vladimir Tarasenko (6G, 4A)

Since the 2004-05 lockout, the Blues are 11-7-1 at home against the Kings. Interestingly, out of these nineteen matchups only one game required overtime, 11 March 2006 which saw Los Angeles drop 2-1 to St. Louis 2-1 in a shootout. While the Blues have had the Kings number at home, albeit slightly, Los Angeles is coming off the wave of a seven-game winning streak and have been road warriors so far this season. Moreover, they’ve made a splash against Central Division opponents, as they are currently 4-1 and have drowned these adversaries with a +4 goal differential. Meanwhile, St. Louis has been hit with a tempest of injuries and will try to keep their heads above water tonight as the Kings surge into town.

Prediction: Kings by 1

Calgary Flames at Colorado Avalanche, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: CGY 3-8-1 (6th in the Pacific); COL 3-7-1 (7th in the Central)

Leading Scorers: Johnny Gaudreau (1G, 11A); Nathan MacKinnon (4G, 6A)

This is the reverse-Corsi matchup that you’ve all been waiting for. Both teams are in the bottom half of the league for 5v5 Corsi For%, but the edge goes to the Avalanche as they are DFL with an abysmal 40.8%. Both teams defied the analytics in the last two seasons, with their bench bosses reaping the rewards, Patrick Roy took home the Jack Adams Award in 2014 and Bob Hartley is the most recent winner. Since taking home top coaching honors, Roy’s team has gone 42-38-13 and missed the playoffs last season. Calgary’s current play suggests that may follow a similar regressive trajectory as Colorado did last year.

Prediction: Avalanche by 1

Philadelphia Flyers at Edmonton Oilers, 6:00PM

2015-16 Season Records: PHI 4-5-2 (6th in the Metropolitan); EDM 4-8-0 (5th in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Mark Streit (3G, 4A); Taylor Hall (5G, 8A)

Are we tired of comparing how Connor McDavid fares in his first game against (insert NHL team here) to how Wayne Gretzky first performed against said team? No? Perfect. Gretzky played his first game against the Broadstreet Bullies on 15 November 1979, contributing two assists in a 5-3 loss. But don’t keep your eye on the scoresheet, tonight will be about the head-to-head matchup between McDavid and the one of the greatest centers to ever claw his way out of the backwoods of Northern Ontario, Claude “the Pride of Hearst” Giroux. Hailing from a Francophone community 565 miles north of McDavid’s hometown, Giroux will look to continue racking up points against the Oilers. In seven career meetings, Giroux has tallied 3 goals and 5 assists. Meanwhile, McDavid will look to get back in the points column tonight after snapping a seven-game point streak against Calgary on Saturday.

Prediction: Flyers by 1

Columbus Blue Jackets at San Jose Sharks, 7:30PM

2015-16 Season Records: CBJ 2-10-0 (8th in the Metropolitan); SJS 6-5-0 (3rd in the Pacific)

Leading Scorers: Brandon Dubinsky (3G, 4A); Joel Ward (7G, 4A)

The Sharks are undefeated in November! The champions of the first two weeks of October are looking mighty strong as we head into the final full month of Fall. If you can’t be built for the playoffs you might as well be built for autumn hockey and that’s exactly what the Sharks are. Historically, different variations of the franchise have all played well in November. The post-lockout Sharks were an abysmal 2-7-3 in 2005 but since then the teams have usually entered December with a winning record from the previous month, including an incredible 11-1-1 performance in 2008. It’s hard to hold a candle to San Jose’s performances in the cold November rain.

Prediction: San Jose by 2

Last Minute of Play:

When the first water flowed into the San Fernando Valley, it was reported that a crowd of forty thousand awaited its arrival and celebrated with an inaugural drink. While the deluge was certainly a memorable occasion, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was not without opposition. Preservationists and residents in the valley actively opposed its development from the very beginning. Even after the project was completed, residents who were concerned about the loss of their own aquatic resources took to sabotage in the 1920s, some even used dynamite!

For the record, this is still the most exciting thing to ever happen in an aqueduct.

Professor Prediction Record: 6-3

Further Reading

Lee Standiford. Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles (2015)

*Next Tuesday L.A. hosts Arizona and we’ll dig into some recent Kings history by exploring the 2007 Royal Rebound.
Professor Mike hails from Sudbury, Ontario (4 hours north of Toronto) a place that has more Kings connections than you’d think. The city’s northern boundary reaches as far as the community of Levack, hometown of Kings great Dave Taylor. As a child, Mike once met Taylor in a gravel pit, as you can imagine, he was thoroughly impressed. He has also spent more than a few bleary-eyed nights at the Beef n Bird, a tavern founded by Justin Williams’ great uncle Jerry Toppazzini. Mike’s only wish is that one day people will call him “the Professor” with the same adoration bestowed upon Ben Scrivens. You can follow Mike Commito on Twitter @MikeCommito.
  • Carlos Chavez

    Let’s not forget the consequences of Mulholland’s plan. The sapping of the Owens River caused mass ecological damage as well as the economic collapse of the greater Owens Valley.

    • http://www.mikecommito.com/ Mike Commito

      Thanks for reading Carlos. That’s certainly a valid criticism of the post, I only had so much space to explore the event and if I were to do a more detailed piece I’d certainly get into the environmental and human (displacement) elements further

      • Carlos Chavez

        Well, as a historian, I appreciate history being brought into any subject, especially LA and hockey in general. I look forward to reading more posts from you! Don’t pay too much attention to a bitter, cynical historian like myself.

        • http://www.mikecommito.com/ Mike Commito

          Thanks, good to know that a fellow historian will be watching these with a keen eye. I look forward to making more of these Frankensteins of hockey and history. This week was back to some Kings history, next week I’ll be taking on the 1969 Alcatraz occupation. Stay tuned