The LA Kings franchise has been in the shadows and out in the cold for most of the last 45 years. But Monday night Dustin Brown stepped out into the warm LA spotlight, hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head after a 6-1 Game 6 victory. The only problem now for AEG, the Kings and Staples Center owners, is to find out the physics of hanging a Cup in the rafters.
Its not true that the Kings haven’t had loyal fans for the entirety of their franchise’s life, because they have. But the Kings have taken a trunk folding, backwards facing back seat of a station wagon to the other franchises over their 45 years in LA.
The bandwagon for the Cup is now blocking all lanes of traffic on the 110 from San Pedro to Pasadena. Thats great for the players who, as far as professional athletes go, really are just regular guys and have earned the support.
But some part of the Kings, if its not directed at the now fans then maybe more generally at the franchises, but some part of the Kings think winning this championship is a little sweeter in spite of the Lakers and other LA teams.
Just since Captain Dustin Brown was drafted by the Kings in 2003, he’s seen the Lakers’ big four of ONeil, Bryant, Malone, and Payton, and see Kobe win titles in ’09 and ’10, the Galaxy won the MLS Cup last year, USC football win two national championships in ’03 and ’04 and only had one vacated, and more personally the Ducks first took the Cup to Southern California in 2007. Even though the Dodgers have not won a World Series since Kirk Gibson hit his famous home run in 1988, the Clippers despite being in Los Angeles are still the Clippers, and granted the Angels won just before Brown’s arrival in 2002, The Kings could just be something else happening at Staples Center.
But not now.
Backed by Tim Leiweke and AEG, GM Dean Lombardi made bold moves this offseason and mid season to sign Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and extend Drew Doughty and they paid off big time. The Kings realized how good they could be on their historic march through the playoffs.
And Angelinos responded. Los Angeles fans are notoriously fair weather, but if you are doing well they are outrageously supportive. The scene outside Staples Center on Monday did not involve riots like the Lakers victories but were contained by police on the scene. Up to this point, no fans had been beaten in the parking lot like it was Dodger Stadium. But the Kings did what the other franchises in LA were unable to do without the destruction (knock on wood), they won the championship–We have the Cup.