LA Kings Parade 2012: Stanley Cup Celebration an Unusual but Welcome Sight
Folks in Los Angeles are used to victory parades. From the Raiders (in 1983) to the Dodgers (five times) to the Lakers (11 times). Figueroa St. has seen more than its fair share of celebratory spectators, double-decker buses and oversized men jubilantly hoisting trophies.
That is, until today, until the Kings finally had their opportunity to roll through downtown LA with the most famous trophy in North American professional sports in hand.
How will the Kings fare next season (assuming there's no lockout)?
Fittingly, the unlikeliest and most unusual of sporting parties comes on the heels of the unlikeliest and most unusual run to the Cup in hockey history.
The Kings came into the 2011-12 season as one of a handful of favorites to contend for the Cup, but soon found that even stout defense and great goaltending couldn't compensate entirely for one of the league's most impotent offenses. That forced management to make big changes—first replacing head coach Terry Murray with Darryl Sutter, then swapping Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter and nearly sending captain Dustin Brown packing at the trade deadline.
Those served to spark something of a turnaround, though LA still had to sneak its way into the Western Conference playoffs as the eighth seed. Only a late-season loss by the Dallas Stars ensured that the Kings would wind up playing for the Cup, before a pair of heartbreaking losses to the San Jose Sharks dropped LA from the Pacific Division lead to the bottom of the playoff barrel.
Not that that made much of a difference in the end. The Kings took care of the top-seed Vancouver Canucks in five games, the second-seed St. Louis Blues in four and the third-seed Phoenix Coyotes in five, becoming the first team in NHL history to defeat the top three seeds on the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The New Jersey Devils proved to be a tougher out, what with their Hall-of-Fame goaltender in Martin Brodeur and their superstar winger in Ilya Kovalchuk.
But pushing the series to six games only allowed the Kings to celebrate their first-ever Cup title at the Staples Center in front of thousands of rabid fans who likely thought they'd never see such a sight.
Because this is LA, where the average temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit, as so prominently listed on Bailey the mascot's jersey. Because no eight seed had ever won the Cup, much less by winning 16 of 20 games in one of the most dominant postseason runs the sport has ever seen.
Then again, victory parades are anything but a rarity in the City of Angels, and now, neither are those that feature Lord Stanley's most precious prize.
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