Belief and disbelief. Two words Los Angeles Kings fans are now very familiar with. It’s always easy to believe when things are going well. Yet, when the chips are down you learn who the real fans are. After a slow start, a coaching change, extended losing streaks, and goal droughts there wasn’t a lot to believe in for Kings fans. A #8 seed only meant another early exit at the hands of the President’s Trophy winners. Still, Kings fans held onto hope.
Disbelief came later, in varying degrees as the Kings manhandled the #1, 2, and 3 seeds in the Western Conference. It came when the Kings hadn’t lost on the road through 3 rounds despite being the low seed in each round. Most of all, it came as the clock wound down in Game 6 with the Kings holding an insurmountable lead. Don’t blame Kings fans for not knowing what to do. We haven’t been here before.
It all happened so fast, it didn’t have a chance to really sink it. All of a sudden the Kings are on the cusp of their first ever Stanley Cup Championship, up 3 games to none. Then the Devils turned it on.
Granted, 4 games to 2 doesn’t look that close, especially after the 6-1 victory in Game 6 and the 4-0 win in Game 3. However the first 2 contests went to OT and it easily could have been the other way. Yet, it was the Kings that ground out goals in those first 2 games and took the driver’s seat in the series.
Despite the Kings 3 games to 0 lead, they couldn’t cash in on their first 2 chances to claim the Cup. The Devils outworked the Kings in Games 4 and 5. That’s what this series was all about, hard work. It couldn’t have been any more fitting that Trevor Lewis, the epitome of hard work, tallied twice in Game 6.
It’s indicative of this team’s success throughout the playoffs. 17 different skaters scored in these playoffs. The only skater to play in all 20 games and not score was Rob Scuderi, who made other contributions.
After being boarded in the first period, Rob Scuderi required repairs. Yet, taking that hit gave the Kings a major power-play. With a chance to win the Cup, the Kings FINALLY found their man-advantage play, and scored 3 times. The Devils never recovered.
The Kings held on to their massive lead, and actually built on it. They made sure the Cup didn’t go back in the box.
As Dustin Brown lifted the Cup, the first Los Angeles King to do so, 45 years of frustration melted away. The Kings and their fans have a new greatest moment in franchise history. It’s not a single game, or an epic series, or a massive trade. It’s a Championship. The greatest championship. It’s a Stanley Cup Championship.
Dean Lombardi’s plan finally all came together.
I’ll touch more on the win and the team in another blog. For now, I want to talk about the fans. The fans that suffered for so long. The fans that had to watch the team to the south, brought here by a Kings’ popularity, win a Cup in ’07. The fans that were so elated they forgot to boo Bettman. The fans that have bled Forum Blue for decades.
Walking around Downtown Los Angeles after the game was surreal. High-fives from Kings fans on the sidewalk. “We got the Cup!” chants inside The Pantry over a bowl of peach cobbler. “Go Kings Go!” cheers on the metro.
But the highlight of the night was riding the train from Union Station back to my neighborhood, talking to two grey-haired, long time Kings fans. An Englishman who had adopted the Kings as his own long ago, singing praises to Trevor Lewis and his effort. And a father who couldn’t be more excited and proud that his son would be attending Kings Hockey Camp this summer with the Stanley Cup Champs.
The Los Angeles Kings. Brown, Kopitar, Williams, Richards, Penner, Carter, Stoll, Lewis, King, Richardson, Gagne, Nolan, Fraser, Clifford, Loktionov, Mitchell, Doughty, Greene, Scuderi, Martinez, Voynov, Westgarth, Quick, Bernier. Sutter, Stevens, Kompon, Hextall. Lombardi, Robitaille. So many names I’m forgetting that deserve their due.
Your 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Champions.
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney