Kings win the Stanley. Freaking. Cup.

I was 12 or 13, the first time I went to a hockey game. It was the old purple and gold Kings, at the Forum, against (I think) the Flyers. It would have been around 1983 or 1984, and a though I can't recall much about the game, a few things are clear in my memory:

  • The Forum was not even half full, but the people who were there were as loud and passionate as the Dodger fans I saw regularly at sold out Dodger games*.
  • The Kings were not a good team.
  • There were a couple of fights near center ice that were awesome.
  • The Kings lost the game.

It took me about half of the first period to understand what was going on, but once I figured it out, I was hooked. Los Angeles isn't a hockey town (despite what the press and celebrities are saying right now), and it never will be. Los Angeles is a Lakers town, and (when they win) a Dodgers town.

I loved (and love) ice hockey — especially Kings ice hockey — because it took effort to understand the game, because it wasn't something that many people cared about or even knew about. In the 80s, it was easy to be a Lakers fan; that team was unstoppable and as dominant as any team has ever been… so being a weird nerd and budding contrarian, I rejected basketball entirely and embraced ice hockey and the Kings, because it wasn't easy to be a Kings fan.**

In 1987, I got hired on Star Trek, and I could afford season tickets to the Kings. Later that year, Wayne Gretzky came to town, and suddenly people cared about ice hockey in Los Angeles. For the next six years, I attended nearly every home game and quite a few heartbreaking first round playoff games. I started playing the game myself, and eventually became a fairly decent goalie.

In 1993, I watched the team I'd grown up loving more than anything make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, fighting every step of the way to get there, defeating some of the best teams of that era before an illegally-curved stick put Lord Stanley's Cup out of reach for what would feel like eternity.

Until last night.

Last night, my friends came over and we put on jerseys from three eras of Kings history, hoping against hope that we would finally see our team hoist the Cup.

three eras of kings history
That's our friend Burns! and our friend Stephanie. I've known Stephanie since we were 17. We went to games together all through the 80s and early 90s. She introduced me to Anne 16 years ago. Burns! and Anne worked together when they were in their early 20s, and Burns! grew up with Scalzi. It's weird how small the world is.

The mood in our house wasn't as celebratory as it was for Game 5. We've been close before, and we've been heartbroken. We've been Kings fans long enough to know that, sometimes, the team just falls apart… 

But not this team. Not now. Not this year.

After having a terrible power play all year, this team scored three times on a 5 minute major and never looked back. We were screaming and cheering so much, we scattered my cats and Anne had to put our dogs outside.

Hoverwil
Hoverwil

Hoverwil

I've been doing the Hover Wil quite a bit this playoff season.

 

When the third period started, we put the champagne in the fridge, and hoped we didn't jynx anything.

Then New Jersey pulled one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game, and the Kings scored an empty-netter to go up 5-1. Then, Matt Greene scored from the blue line to make it 6-1 with 2 minutes left in the game.

And we all realized that a lifetime of waiting for our beloved Los Angeles Kings to win the Stanley Cup was going to end. This was really happening. A team that wasn't even supposed to make it past the first round of the playoffs, a team that was horrible in December and January, a team that I was afraid would never realize its potential…

…did this:

image from i.imgur.com
And there was much rejoicing.

 

Kingschampagne
After nearly 30 years watching the Kings have a few ups and a lot of downs, this feels really, really good. I'm proud of these guys, and I hope the ones who are free agents next season will find a way to stick around, so maybe they can do it again.

Unlike the teams of the early 90s, when Kings ownership and management seemed intent on sacrificing the future for a slim chance to win one Stanley Cup, this is a Kings team that has the potential to repeat. This isn't the end of something… this is the beginning.

Oh, and for the die hard, life long Kings fans out there… how awesome was it to finally see this:

Bob Miller Hoists the Stanley Cup
Kick ass, Bob Miller. I can't wait to hear your call of the game.

*Dodger baseball is basically religion in my dad's family. I can't remember a time in my life when we didn't go to games, or listen to games, or watch games, or listen to old people in dad's family talk about games.

** [Hipster Kitty]

Published by

Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

74 thoughts on “Kings win the Stanley. Freaking. Cup.”

  1. Your tweets convinced me to turn on Game Four and check out this ‘hockey’ thing I’ve heard so much about (being from Wisconsin, where we only have an AHL team that no one seems to care about very much).
    I see what the fuss is about now :D Congrats to you and all the Kings fans!

  2. Congrats! I know how good it feels to watch your team struggle for several years and flourish when it’s needed most and, man, does it feel amazing.
    Now if only we could get the Canucks to stop sucking so hard…

  3. An amazing end to the season. As a lifelong Wings fan, I share in your excitement. The first time seeing YOUR TEAM win is amazing, and I can only imagine how much better it is when it’s the first time.
    Also, as a lifelong Wings fan, I give even more appreciation to the Kings for taking out the Devils. We will always remember.
    I also adored @scalzi’s tweet: After tonight, we’ll all remember where we were when @wilw won the Stanley Cup.

  4. Somehow I knew a blog post would come from last night’s win, and I thought of you (the only Kings fan I know) when I heard they’d won.
    Congratulations to the LA Kings! From Minnesota, land of hockey. (You should visit some time.)

  5. I cried last night. I cried…
    Never thought I’d see the day. Was beautiful and epic. That pic of Bob Miller hoisting the cup is starting up the tears all over!

  6. As a newish hockey fan (about 4 years) I’ve inherited a love for the Leafs from my boyfriend (shitty luck, I know) and the Red Wings (Danny Cleary is from where I’m from) but this playoff season my friends and I were all going for the Kings. Watching you act like a giddy schoolgirl (in a good way!) warmed my heart.
    Congrats Kings fans!

  7. Congrats from a Bruins fan who is suddenly flashing back to the joy of last June, to running outside and walking to the nearest bar to celebrate with as many people as possible, high fives and smiles and the sudden ability to breathe again–
    –it really is the best feeling, isn’t it?

  8. I live just outside of Detroit, which you may have heard of… this place they call Hockeytown? You can borrow the cup for awhile. Bask in the glory. The Red Wings can share. ; )
    They deserve it. Go kings!

  9. I don’t even watch hockey and I was excited about the possibility of a Kings win just from reading your tweets about it. Congrats to your team!

  10. So very happy for you and all the other Kings fans out there. I went through this with my Bruins last year, who previously hadn’t won since I’ve been alive (born in ’77). It’s a tremendous feeling for sure, enjoy it! :)

  11. Come see where Matt Greene played college hockey sometime next season. You haven’t experienced real hockey until you’ve seen a University of North Dakota vs University of Minnesota game! Not to mention UND was more represented in the finals than any other college!

  12. This is a wonderful description of a fan’s euphoria after cheering on a team for decades and finally seeing them win it all. And that Hover Wil thing — it’s the Snoopy Dance! Congratulations from a Sabres fan.

  13. Congrats, it felt like the Kings were blessed this year, nothing could stop them. Brodeur gave you a good hussle, but in the end he couldn’t stop them all. As a Canadiens fan, we hadn’t much to be happy about this year, so I’ll try to be happy for you and the Kings,even though a last Cup for the 40 years goalie from Quebec would have been sweet.

  14. Although I still would have liked a Canadian team…or at least someplace that actually sees water freeze – our complete domination of the roster and the 3 Saskatchewan boys put you over the top. Enjoy the victory!

  15. As a lifelong Rangers fan who’s parents allowed their six and seven year-old sons stay up past their bedtime to watch Mark Messier deliver to us what had not been delivered in 54 years, I congratulate you, as we over in New York know what that felt like to wait a lifetime and win in the most epic of ways. Also, as a lifelong Rangers fan, thank you for keeping the Cup out of New Jersey.

  16. There was cheering at my house. My husband married me because I knew what a blue line was and could name every position that was played. Our first date was a blind date to see the Kings play at the Fabulous Forum.
    I grew up where we had a large field that was divided into a figure skating rink and a hockey rink. I’ve watched hockey since I was 4 (close to 60 now).
    This was such a great achievement for the Kings. They proved that after 45 years, they have the grit to win.
    Love your passion!!!

  17. I remember when the Wings won there first cup in my lifetime, back in ’97. That first cup win is special. It had been 42 years since there last, and the whole Detroit area was cup crazy. Glade that the Kings won it by beating the Devils, who delayed the Wings from winning it sooner. Really enjoyed reading yours and @ThatKevinSmith tweets. It made the finals even more enjoyable.
    Congrats to all Kings Fans!

  18. I remember 1993 well. It was probably the last time I was interested in hockey before this year. After the Canadiens won, I took the day off of school and went to the victory parade with my mom. We had such a great time with our fellow Montrealers. After that I stayed away from hockey because the bullies at my Montreal high school were hockey fans and total assholes. Earlier this year I was excited that the Kings were doing well, but my brother made fun of me; he was pissed I was cheering for the Kings when they were playing against his Canucks! Whatever… I shut my mouth and kept cheering in the privacy of my home. Last night was my favorite hockey game EVER! The Kings reminded me of the time I beat a toddler at Connect Four. It was AWESOME!!! :*)
    Now I’m considering going to the victory parade here, but I don’t know anyone who would go with me. We’ll see. :/

  19. I adopted the Kings as my Team To Cheer For this playoff season (as my team [the Canes] was nowhere near making it to the postseason), glad to see them pull it off! Sadly, I moved to Raleigh (& thus was introduced to / became an enormous fan of hockey & the Canes) in 2008, so I missed their Stanley Cup year. I hope I get to experience it first-hand one season!

  20. I started watching hockey at about the same age you did. My father’s bosses had season tickets to the Islanders when they joined the NHL. They were lousy their first two seasons, so we were able to go to about 10-15 games each year. I was hooked, even though they were losing. They started getting good too quickly (j/k), so my source of free thrills dried up, but I got to root for a cup winner (four years straight!) after only seven years. Fast forward to my adult life; my latest move was to Colorado in the late 80s and was without a local team until the Nordiques bolted Quebec to become the Avs. Married to a from-birth Canadiens fan, what else could we do but split with friends on season tickets. Wouldn’t you know, they won a cup that first year. We were there for the Lemieux check on Draper, for the sixth-game win against the Red Wings (suck!) and the first game of the finals against the Panthers. Nothing better than that (well, in sports).
    Seeing your excitement over the past few weeks brings back the feelings for me. With neither of my teams in the playoffs this year, you had me cheering along with you. Thanks for giving me a team to cheer for this year. Enjoy the rush!

  21. I hate TypePad. I wrote something longer and it seems to have been eaten when I hit “Preview”. Apologies in advance if I double-post.
    I’m a Devils fan, so you can understand if I’m not happy right now. Still, the Kings clearly earned their success this year.
    So, congratulations. I remember feeling this way in 1995 – I couldn’t believe it ever happened, given how bad the Devils had been before 1994, especially in their previous incarnations in Colorado and KC.
    I grew up in southern NJ, so was a Flyers fan back in the days when you had Dionne, Taylor, and Vachon. I remember them winning the Cup in 1974 and 1975, but was too young to really undestand the impact.
    Savor the feeling as the summer will be shorter than you think, and everyone will be gunning for you in the fall.
    And it warms my heart greatly to see rangers fans like John Simpson who look to NJ jealously because of the 3 Cups we’ve won recently. Soon enough the “1940” chants will be replaced with “1994”. :-D

  22. Congratulations to the Kings — it was a fantastic playoff run and outstanding final series. Bringing the Cup to California will be great for West Coast hockey and will hopefully get a whole new generation of kids fired up to play and watch the game. My wife and I saw Quick play in Manchester a few years back, so I’m really happy for him, too.
    Someday my Sharks might even get into the finals. It could happen. Quit laughing…

  23. Echoing what Circling said above. I am a Bs fan as well, so last year was pretty special. Before last year, watching Bourque lift the cup in Colorado was the closest I’d come to true hockey joy. It is a tremendous feeling to follow your team and see them overcome all obstacles. Congrats! Live it and love it! September comes around quickly… Not quick enough for those of us who want to taste the cup again.

  24. Funnily enough, a friend of mine in LA pointed out that there were more people from Ithaca, NY excited about the Kings winning last night than people in LA. My facebook feed was littered with cheers and pictures of Dustin holding the cup. You have to realize that Dustin Brown is a favorite son back in Ithaca right now. It is amazing the talented people that have come out of that town, and I’m excited to be able to brag to people that not only do we have olympic gold medalists that went to my high school, we now have Dustin! I just hope I get to be there when he brings Lord Stanley’s Cup home.
    Congratulations to the Kings. I’m glad to see they did so well! Maybe next year the Caps will hoist the Cup!

  25. I’m from Montreal, Canada. I’m a Canadiens fan, of course. Our last Stanley cup was in 1993, the night you remember with the illegal stick. I still remember what a night it was. Back then, I was happy about my team winning. Now, i realize how it must have been for Kings fan to lose the series.
    Many years later, you finally did it and I’m happy for you. Happy for the LA Kings fan. You deserved it. The players worked as a team, a young team but, full of talents. You guys will be a menace for the coming years! And if that cup can bring more fans in LA, it’s only good for the sport, let’s hope it does. Here in Montreal, hockey is a part of our lives. We live hockey. To me, it’s one of the most exciting sport to watch. Congrats again!!!

  26. Seeing the Kings win last night made it easier to reconcile our Canucks’ elimination by them in the first round. When we saw how amazingly they played, we said back then that we were looking at the next Stanley Cup champions. And, sure enough, they’ve done it! Rest assured there were a lot of cheering Canadians last night, too!

  27. All I can say is I can completely agree with you. I am a Chicago Blackhawks fan and when we finally got the cup in 2010, I had to do a double take and see if Kane really did make that winning goal or not. Afterwards, I did a little of the ‘hovering’ myself. Congrats to the Kings – you’ve waited a long time as well!

  28. Big ups to the Kings and the fans. Wil, if you can make it to GenCon, I’ll buy you a beer to celebrate (but I may have to wear my Lightning jersey). Congrats!

  29. Growing up on a remote mountainside dairy farm in Upstate NY, there were not many opportunities to watch/see/play hockey. Then when I was 10, the house next door was bought by a couple from NYC and their son, a year younger than me. With him came the passion for the game, and the willingness to suffer while I got up to speed.
    He taped all of the games and we watched them when he came upstate on the weekend. We skated on the pond with street hockey sticks, brittle from the cold. He strapped pillows to his shins I shot floor cleaner disks (kinda like puck-shaped brillo pads) at him in our makeshift concrete rink in the barn. His parents took us to Rye Playland in White Plains to see the Rangers practice. I got a photo of Guy LaFleur and later did a pen sketch which still hangs in my room. We went to games at MSG and later recapped all the key plays on the 5 train back to his house.
    Then in 1993, the work started to pay off. The Rangers were on fire. Messier and the back end brought them the President’s Trophy. And then the playoffs. And then The Messier Guarantee. And then… BOOM. We were in a dive Irish bar at the time, and we practically knocked over our Guinness in celebration! I sang karaoke (Sinatra, High Hopes) and the locals stared as if I had lost my mind. But I didn’t care – MY RANGERS WON THE STANLEY CUP!!
    My buddy lost his job because he took the day off to go to the parade. He didn’t care – it was just a summer job at a Catskills resort. We jumped in the car and down the Thruway we went. After getting a good spot on the street atop a newspaper box, we watched Richter, Leetch, Graves and Messier on display down sixth. And at that point, 1940 was centuries in the past.
    So anyway – congratulations!

  30. As a Caps fan from before you were Wesley, I STILL feel the pain and futility you’ve now left behind. :-) And probably will for years to come….

  31. As a Seattleite I’m a Canucks fan by default (when I’m not at an Everett Silvertips game), but if the Canucks weren’t going to win, I’m okay with the Kings winning. Congratulations, and enjoy the victory. Unfortunately it’ll be gone much too quickly.

  32. Congratulations Wil and Pals! Go Kings!
    I’m a pointy-football sportsball fan, but I do understand. We have watched games like that at our house.
    Reading the twitter stream last night was lots of fun.
    Good luck next year!

  33. This was how I felt when my Ducks won the Rose Bowl this year. So many years of getting SO close and watching it fall apart. I was there the year before when we lost the National Championship by a field goal. I remember drowning my misery in drinks afterward with the friends who had trekked to Arizona to see it in person. We convened in Pasadena after an insane season, one which — for the first time ever — I had season tickets for. We all hoped and prayed but remained cautiously optimistic. No one wanted to say or do anything that might jinx it. We were excited on the outside, but bloody terrified inside. What if it happens again? Should we stop going? How would we handle a second heartbreak? For the whole game it was back and forth, and Duck fans lived and died with every play. At the end we were close to seeing it turn to ash again. The final play of regulation was being reviewed. We all held hands, strangers united by our love for our school and our team, and prayed. You could hear a pin drop, people were barely breathing. When the ref announced that the play hadn’t worked, that the game was over and the Ducks were finally victorious in one of the biggest games in school history, the dam broke. The screams of joy and relief as the confetti cannon went off and rained down on our section is something I will never forget for as long as I live. That joyful moment of shared celebration. Even when I think back to it now, it makes me smile like a fool. Enjoy it, it is one of the best feelings there is!

  34. I gave up on being much of a hockey fan many years ago. I have to say, I was thrilled that the Kings lost the cup in ’93 (as a Leafs fan, Gretzky’s unpenalized high stick to the face on Gilmour in game 6 earned them that Stanley Cup loss), but I was totally cheering for them this year just because a) they were such an awesome underdog and b) it was so awesome to vicariously have some fan excitement through you. I stopped watching the Leafs years ago, since it was something that I used to love doing with my dad before he died, and also because the Leafs have long focused more on making money than actually, you know, making the playoffs or winning a Stanley Cup. And I guess who can blame them – if they can be the most profitable team in the NHL despite not even MAKING THE PLAYOFFS for the last 8 seasons, why bother trying? Le sigh… But watching a few games this season has made me really want to start watching games with my son once he’s old enough to stay up/pay attention for a whole game (he’s only 3 at the moment). So thanks, Wil, for re-igniting that little spark of hockey excitement in my heart.

  35. I know nothing about hockey but enough of my friends are Kings fans that I actually watched the end of the game. I’m delighted for the Kings and all their fans!
    And I do love your kitchen. :)

  36. I freely admit I am not a hockey fan, but I love a good underdog story, and it amuses me how at the beginning of the playoffs it seemed like everyone was writing the Kings off. I will admit to watching the game last night and getting really, really excited as time ticked down, and also to admitting that my first thought was “man, Wil is going insane at this moment!!” Now if only my dear Cubs could have a decent season again sometime (I told you I loved underdogs, plus it’s a religion in *my* family lol) Congrats Kings on a great season!

  37. Kings fan pre-Gretzky as well. Went to games whenever our company couldn’t give away senate seats at the forum. Through the trades and players that never paid off as much as we’d hoped. The LAPD line and that playoff run was the best in awhile. Stuck with them even when Cechmanek was the net minder. When it was 4-1 all I could do is think is it possible we will choke and blow the series. Been there too many times. But no, this was ours. They played better than they had in the last three games I believe. My wife said, showing her the vid “we did the same thing”. Maybe didn’t run around as much. But having someone share the joy as much as I have has made thus all the more fun. Hover on Wil, hover on. Brian

  38. “We’ve been Kings fans long enough to know that, sometimes, the team just falls apart…” So true. I was waiting for it during every series. I even told friends “If there’s a team that can blow a 3-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, it’s the Kings.” I’m still amazed, overjoyed, and in shock it didn’t happen.

  39. As a Boston Bruins fan cheering on the LA Kings, it was great to see your team win it, but it also made me a tad sad, because I knew that our reign in Boston was over.
    However, I would look hellaforward to reigniting the rivalry between Boston and LA with a match up in the Final next year.
    What do you say? Bruins vs Kings?

  40. Congratulations on your team finally winning the Cup. My team was the North Stars and when they went to Dallas I kind of lost my passion in hockey. I still watch The Wild, but it’s not the same to me anymore. Anyways speaking of the Dodgers, my father and I were HUGE Dodgers fans. I mean nearly religious fans, and living in Minnesota that was close to being a pinko communist. Anyways in 1988 we watched the Dodgers in the World Series and my favorite baseball player of all time, Kirk Gibson (truly an old school tough ass player) hit the greatest home run I have ever seen. I still get moist in the eye sockets thinking about watching that game live and screaming until my throat hurt. I was 15 in 1988 and since then my father has passed away, but I still get chills whenever anyone mentions being a big Dodgers fan. I catch as many games as I can up here in the “Great White North” but without my father watching the games with me it’s hard to re-coop the passion. My son, who is 9 is beginning to show interest in my passion for the Chicago Bears, so perhaps another round of nostalgia is on deck. Thanks for the memories.

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