Ranking the 5 Most Unbelievable Moments in Los Angeles Kings History
There are moments that feature superior individual efforts and others which include a strong performance by the entire team. There is even a crucial moment that didn’t even occur on the ice.
Yes, the Kings have certainly had their share of Hollywood drama.
With that said, here’s a look at the top five most unbelievable moments in Kings history.
Honorable Mention: Upsetting the Defending Champs
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In both 1989 and 1990, the L.A. Kings would upset the defending Stanley Cup champions in the first round of the playoffs. The only problem was L.A. went on to lose to that year’s champion in the next round on both occasions.
In 1989, with Gretzky in his first season in L.A., the Kings defeated his former team and defending champion Edmonton Oilers in seven games. But they were swept by the Calgary Flames, who went on to win their only Stanley Cup in franchise history.
In 1990, the reverse occurred. The Gretzky-led Kings defeated the defending champs from Calgary in six games, before being swept by the Oilers.
5. Kings Upset the Wings
In the first round of the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Kings pulled off perhaps their greatest upset since the Miracle on Manchester.
As the seventh seed in the Western Conference, the Kings took on the Detroit Red Wings, who finished second overall in the NHL. After losing the first two games of the series by a combined score of 9-3, the Kings stole Game 3 by a score of 2-1.
Down 3-0 with the less than six minutes to go in Game 4, the Kings stormed back to win 4-3 in overtime. They didn’t look back as Adam Deadmarsh capped off the amazing upset in L.A., scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 6.
This series remains a highlight for a generation of fans who grew up watching the likes of Ziggy Palffy, Ian Laperriere, Jozef Stumpel and Mattias Norstrom.
4. The Trade
In the history of the NHL, there has never been anything as shocking as “The Trade” and maybe there never will be.
In 1988, not long after Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers hoisted their fourth Stanley Cup, the Great One was sent packing to Los Angeles. An entire nation was left with a bitter taste in its mouth, while the southern U.S. was set to reap the benefits of having an all-time great in its midst.
August 9, 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of the trade and as has been well documented, it changed the Los Angeles Kings immediately, both on and off the ice. The Kings became a team that could pose a threat in the playoffs and hockey was suddenly on the radar of sports fans in California.
3. Gretzky Leads Kings to Cup Final
Injuries limited Wayne Gretzky to 45 games in the 1992-93 regular season, but that didn’t hinder his performance in the playoffs.
With the help of referee Kerry Fraser, the Great One left his mark on Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final.
With the Kings trailing 3-2 in the series and the game tied 4-4, Gretzky high-sticked Doug Gilmour. It’s a moment Toronto fans will never forget, as there was no penalty on the play. In overtime, Gretzky added salt to the Leafs’ wounds, scoring the goal that sent the series to Game 7.
Two days later in front of a packed crowd at Maple Leaf Gardens, Gretzky would play one of the best games of his career. He scored three goals and added an assist to send the Kings to their first Stanley Cup Final.
Although they would lose to Montreal in the Final, this was one of the high-points in the franchise's history at the time.
2. Miracle on Manchester
There are some moments in sports that simply can’t be forgotten. The Miracle on Manchester is one of those moments.
The Kings entered their first round series with the Edmonton Oilers in 1982 as heavy underdogs, having finished 48 points behind Gretzky’s team. However, they came out and stole Game 1 10-8, before losing Game 2 of the best-of-five 3-2.
Game 3 saw the series shift to the “Fabulous Forum” where the home team dug themselves into a 5-0 hole through two periods. But when play resumed in the third, the game took a drastic turn.
Goals by Jay Wells and Doug Smith cut the lead to three six minutes into the period. Charlie Simmer and Mark Hardy scored less than two minutes apart and with four minutes to go in the game, the Oilers led by just one.
With the net empty and less than 10 second remaining, a rebound from a Hardy slap shot was tapped home by Steve Bozek to tie the game. And, minutes into overtime the comeback was completed when Daryl Evans scored his now infamous goal off a faceoff.
The Kings went on to win the series in five, thanks in large part to one of the greatest single game comebacks in NHL history.
1. 2012 Stanley Cup
Still fresh in the minds of L.A. fans is the team’s first Stanley Cup Championship in 2012. But what makes it so unbelievable is how they won it.
The Kings entered the playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, having lost back-to-back games to the San Jose Sharks. They wouldn’t lose back-to-back games again until the Stanley Cup Final. The Kings embarked on one of the most dominant runs in playoff history, winning 15 of their first 17 games.
They eliminated the President’s Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks 4-1, the St. Louis Blues (No. 2) 4-0 and the Phoenix Coyotes (No. 3) 4-1, to set up a date with the New Jersey Devils in the Final. They would win the first three games for the fourth consecutive series and hold on to take the Cup in six games.
A brilliant goaltending performance throughout the postseason earned Jonathan Quick the Conn Smythe Trophy. And, up and down L.A.’s lineup, there were players making contributions. From captain Dustin Brown to Matt Greene and Colin Fraser, the Kings depth was too much for any team to overcome.
In winning the Stanley Cup, the Kings became the first eighth seeded team in North American professional sports to win a championship.
Unbelievable, isn’t it?