Search This Blog

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Gift from the Hockey Gods

Just a quick column that no one will read, because, well, hockey!

Starting in 1973, I was sucked into the thrill of hockey and the not-so-great Los Angeles Kings. Dad's second wife worked in the ticket office at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. That meant that any non-sellout game was available to attend. And why wouldn't I? Hockey moved at a different pace than any other live sport. It was frenetic and filled with a strange combination of athletic skill and fighting.

Dustin Brown, the only Kings captain to hoist the Stanley Cup.
The players could hear you scream and the you would yell at the referees with two-part chants. One section yells, "HEY REF..." and the other section finishes with, "YOU SUCK!" Yeah real high brow. But even in the seventies, we kept it classy, only sarcastically singing a goalie’s last name when we were ahead. The small crowds--8,000 to 12,000 a night--were personable, nice, knowledgable. Most were transplants from one of hockey's Original Six cities and were helpful to a five-year-old.

In the 39 years leading up to the start of these playoffs, I can easily say that the Hockey Gods were not kind to the Kings for reasons too lengthy to list here. Even the dreaded Anaheim Ducks won a Stanley Cup before my team. This 2007 Ducks victory forced me to self-impose my lifetime ban on hockey should the Ducks ever win before the Kings. My lifetime ban wound up being three full years until the 2010 playoff sucked me in while serving as a groomsman in Ottawa. Four tough losses later and I was hooked again.

But then this team sneaks into the playoffs as the last possible team and then eviscerates everyone in a sure deal with the Hockey Gods.

With the exception of that Marty McSorley illegal stick game, this erases all of the pain. Those outside the Kings family made up fake curses, we were called losers, mocked our legacy of failure, and even questioned our sanity levels. There was always hope. We always believed Despite my lifetime faith, I kept the faith; we kept the faith. We kept passed this this team down to the next generation, hoping it would be worth it.

And today it was.

The last two months (to the day) were the most fantastic ride of our sports lives: Twenty games, sixteen wins, one championship, a Zamboni full of memories. Like our friend Andy Dufresne, we crawled through 500 yards of sh*t-smelling foulness and came out smelling like roses on the other side.

Tonight's champagne, which has literally been on ice since 1993 never tasted so good.

Here's a little something I wrote for the NHL:

The Los Angeles Kings, competing in their 44th NHL season, captured their first Stanley Cup. The Kings joined the Anaheim Ducks (2007) as the only California-based champions and West Coast winners since NHL clubs exclusively began competing for the Stanley Cup in 1927. The Kings finished the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at 16-4 (.800), tied for the second-best championship run since all rounds became best-of-seven in 1987. The Kings were the first NHL club to take a 3-0 lead in games in all four series, went 4-0 in overtime and went 10-1 on the road, setting an NHL playoff record for the longest road winning streak in one postseason (10 games). The Kings become the first #8 seed since the conference-based playoff format was introduced in 1993-94 to capture the Stanley Cup. Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick went 16-4 with a 1.41 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and three shutouts.


This just about sums it as's looking at you, kid: