I’ve been staring at a blank screen for hours now trying to figure out where exactly to start with this crazy Los Angeles Kings team. I mean, was it ever even conceivable that any NHL team–let alone the Kings–could sweep through the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 16-4 record, as the eighth seed, defeating the first, second, and third seeds in the Western Conference, and leading EACH series, including the Stanley Cup Final, 3-0? And THEN, two seasons later, to recover from a 3-0 series deficit in the first round, win THREE consecutive Game 7s ON THE ROAD, and win the Stanley Cup Final by winning all three home games in overtime? Yeah, I didn’t think so…stop for a moment and let that sink in!
Jun 7, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The Los Angeles Kings mascot Bailey cheers after the second overtime period during game two of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center. The Kings beat the Rangers 5-4 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
I will still prepare a thorough Stanley Cup Final recap, filled with the usual statistics and highlights I like to include in all of my articles, but I thought that I should take the time to share a more personal perspective while still riding the high of the Kings’ Game 5 victory.
I’ve rooted for the Kings–through thick and thin–for about 24 years now (thanks to my Angeleno heritage, AND a news feature I watched about Wayne Gretzky coming to LA in 1989 or 1990)…and yeah, that would be two-thirds of my life (in case you were wondering). I can still remember waking up early every morning during the 1993 Stanley Cup Final–when I was living in Europe–to check the results of each game on CNN Headline News…only to be heartbroken to find out that the Kings had not only lost Games 2, 3, AND 4 in overtime, but how they got shafted in Games 2 and 3–pun intended–by the Marty McSorley stick ‘incident’, and then the Guy Carbonneau ‘no call’ on an obvious cover of the puck in the crease that should have resulted in a penalty shot late in the third period of Game 3.
Point is–that while I ALWAYS had hope that the Kings would eventually win the Stanley Cup, I don’t think I ever imagined that we would be treated to such an amazing display of heart and stick-to-itiveness, the likes of which this town has never seen–save for maybe the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers–which conveniently brings me to the rest of my point–the 1988 Dodgers were absolutely magical. The Kirk Gibson home run was absolutely magical. That was 26 years ago. I was just starting the 3rd grade. The Dodgers haven’t achieved anything remotely close to that since then. So, I hope that Kings fans appreciate the show that the Kings have put on in 2012 and 2014–the chances of EVER seeing anything like it again are pretty slim.
These Kings got me through the roughest part of my life, starting in 2012 with the death of my beloved grandfather, who was also a huge sports fan and had taken to rooting for the Kings because of me. I don’t like to share personal anecdotes in these articles for a number of reasons, but I think that to really pay homage to this Kings team, it’s appropriate to share just how profoundly the Kings have affected my life. Not only did their 2012 Stanley Cup run pick me up during a very dark time, but this 2014 Cup run reminded me (in a very obvious and practical way) that you can never give up on anything. When you have a goal in life that you truly wish to accomplish, nothing–and I mean, nothing–should get in the way. These Kings are the most resilient and awe-inspiring team I have ever seen play–in any sport–and I am eternally grateful for having experienced what this team has achieved in the past three years.
I fully expect the Kings to continue to contend for the Cup for years to come, but no matter what may happen in the future, these are three years of my life that will ALWAYS be most special to me for having been able to be a part of this magical run. God Bless the Kings!