The Los Angeles Kings have had to live in the sports shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers, various California-based NFL teams and, most recently, the Los Angeles Clippers, but this NHL squad can find themselves on top of the totem pole with a Stanley Cup championship.
The Kings have been in existence since 1966, but have never won the NHL's grandest prize, and have only won two conference titles and one division title to hang their hats on. Los Angeles has never been a hockey town on the same level as Detroit or Boston, but the Kings' historic Cinderella playoff run will be etched in league history if they become champions.
Call me a sucker if you will, but I always enjoy seeing teams who have been down for a long time finally turn themselves into a contender. You can find me on the Kings' bandwagon.
Being a native of New Hampshire, I've seen the Kings' AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, put together a streak of success with two regular season and division championships in the past six years.
With the talent that has risen through the ranks of both the Monarchs and veteran talent that have been acquired through the past few offseasons, the Kings have been building to this historic run for some time now, and can become the only championship California-based pro sports team this year.
While the city of Los Angeles won't get much sympathy from the rest of America, watching both their basketball teams knocked out of the NBA playoffs in the past week must have been difficult. All the talk of how busy the Staples Center has been with the Clippers, Lakers and Kings in postseason play is gone and only their usually ignored team is left to bring a pro title to the City of Angels.
In order for those events to happen, the Kings will need their high-profile defenseman at his best. Drew Doughty recently spoke to the Associated Press about the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals:
I think in order for us to win the Stanley Cup, I have to be that best defenseman on the ice every night, and I'm going to make sure I'm doing that.
As Erika Aguilar of 89.3 KPCC said in a recent article, the Kings aren't used to the huge crowds waiting to greet them once they arrive at LAX, they're not used to the national stage and more than half the city cheering their names.
That being said, Doughty, goalkeeper Jonathan Quick and the rest of the Kings have done nothing but adapt since the NHL playoffs began.
Los Angeles' hockey team may not be used to the lights shining this bright, but they've made a habit out of doing the improbable this postseason, which they hope will culminate with the team's first ever Stanley Cup title.
Even with a victory in the finals, the Kings may still find themselves in the shadow of the Lakers, but they'll surely get the city's attention and adoration more than they've ever been used to if they can bring that big shiny cup to La La Land.