Stanley Cup Final 2012: For LA Kings, It's Been a Long Time Coming
With just over three minutes to go in the game, NBC took a shot of a fan with his one-year-old boy sitting in the Staples Crowd crowd with a sign reading "It took me 44 years to see this, but my son is 1-for-1."
The man might be 44, but it actually took the Los Angeles Kings 45 years to win the Stanley Cup for the first time.
They become the fourth expansion team from the 1967 class to have won the Cup. The Philadelphia Flyers did it in the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Penguins did it in 1991, and the New Jersey Devils won theirs in 1995.
It took a while, but they finally did it. One would think that they would've accomplished this feat during the Wayne Gretzky or Luc Robitaille era. Instead, it's Jonathan Quick who has cemented himself in Kings history for the rest of his career.
Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy after an inspiring run in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, lifting the No. 8 seeded Kings past the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks, No. 2 St. Louis Blues and the No. 3 Phoenix Coyotes all in order.
Not only did they dispose of those teams, they pretty much dismantled them, going 12-2 in the first three rounds.
Then in the Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils, they jumped out to a quick 3-0 series lead before claiming the Cup in Game 6, finishing the playoffs with an astounding 16-4 record.
It seemed like the franchise was letting go of almost half a century of frustration in every playoff game. They weren't ready to succumb to anyone. This was their time. Game 6 summarized the bottled up anger in one game when the Kings erupted for six goals, as if to say, "Take that!"
They were the No. 8 seed, but they almost immediately threw that label out the window during their run.
Even hockey pundits could agree that this team wasn't the typical No. 8 seed. Before the season started, they acquired Mike Richards to add to an offense with Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll, and Dustin Penner.
However, they struggled to put the puck into the net all season long. They were one of two teams to not score 200 goals in the regular season and they heavily relied on their defense, featuring standouts like Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell, and of course their legendary goaltender, Quick.
This was enough to get them into the playoffs.
One coaching change (Darryl Sutter) and acquisition (Jeff Carter) later, though, they were starting to score more and all of a sudden they were a threat to make a dark horse run.
And that's exactly what they did.
Los Angeles isn't a city that has had many title droughts in other sports. The Lakers win seemingly every other year. The Dodgers have had a long history of success. The Angels are a decade removed from their last title. The USC Trojans football team and the UCLA Bruins basketball team have a strong winning tradition. The Los Angeles Galaxy won last season and even the Anaheim Ducks won a Cup in 2007.
The Kings were sick of watching their fellow local teams have all these championship parades. The wait is over now. The Stanley Cup will spend the summer in Southern California for a long overdue tan.
More importantly, this could be the start of a healthy relationship between hockey and Los Angeles. The city is the second-largest media market in America and they love winners.
Now that the Kings are winners, the people of Los Angeles—who always have plenty of other options in their city than to sit and watch a hockey game—have a bond that can never be broken with their hockey team.
The Kings can finally be embraced by their city because they're officially the kings of their sport.
And that's just one of many things Kings fans can drink to this summer.
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