by Adam Goudchaux, Contributing Writer and Loyal Kings Fan
“That’s why we play the fucking game.”
-Dustin Brown - Moments after the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in 45 years.
In the end, isn’t that why we all play the fucking game? Isn’t that why we live our lives? On the hopes that we get to the top of whatever “game” we are playing?
Leave it to an American born blue collar 200 foot beast of a hockey player to put it all into perspective.
And now it’s up to longtime fans, sports historians and the rest of the Kings players, coaches and staff to put this into their own context; a context I suspect many of us can’t even begin to comprehend yet. Not because the 2012 Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, an amazing feat in and of itself, but because of the way they won the Stanley Cup.
No 8th seed in any American sport has ever won their sport’s championship. No 8th seed has ever had to oust the 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the same post-season run on their way to said championship. No NHL team in the history of the sport has completed their journey to the Holy Grail in a more iconoclastic way than these King of Kings.
Hexes, curses and jinxes erased in one five minute major penalty, after a brutal boarding penalty committed by Devils’ right winger Steve Bernier on Kings veteran, stalwart, stay-at-home defensemen, Rob Scuderi. Bernier lost his head at the worst possible time when his team needed him most. The blood that spewed from Scuderi’s lip and nose turned out to be New Jersey’s life blood in this series being extinguished right before our eyes.
All that crimson red on the bright white ice did was awaken the Kings. They had precious seconds to marinate as the ice crew shoveled the blood from the ice, then came out on that power play and buried the Devils in three goal’s worth of dirt. Game over in 3:58. Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis ended the Devils’ bid to become the second team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a Stanley Cup final.
As for me, your long suffering Kings blogger, I learned a valuable lesson… Admittedly I was running myself ragged with all this jinx negativity. It started as a joke, kind of. But, I was starting to believe my own hype. I am now convinced that jinxes don’t exist. Thanks, Kings for that.
Some of you may be asking what about the negativity?
Negativity bred negativity and stress bred stress with each of my last two blogs. (read HERE)
My nights became filled with restless sleep. Never was I more emotionally invested in a Los Angeles sports championship run. Not for the Lakers, not for the Dodgers, not for anybody. I was enraptured with the magical sprint this Kings team completed. Thanks Kings, for teaching me to stay positive… HAHAHAHA… I kid I KID!!! This whole thing isn’t going to end in a nice neat ABC Afterschool Special package when it comes to my overall view of the world. I am what I am… I will always be a skeptic and will always tend toward negativity, deal with it or not. But the jinx thing is true. I don’t believe in them.
For me and probably most Kings fans, the sigh of relief after the Lewis goal was palpable. With five minutes to go in the third all work was set aside as I sat and watched with three other co-workers the final seconds tick down. The hockey horn sounded exclaiming the finality of all this craziness. My co-worker aptly quipped, “I love that sound. I love that horn. It’s so loud.” Indeed it is deafening and I love it too. The Kings piled on each other to the left side of Jonathan Quick’s net. The long hard hours of practice, workouts, tape sessions, the years of early wake up calls to make pee-wee league, midget league, Juniors, college, prep-school, minor league games, tournament after tournament, 102 games in the 2012 season, mental and physical exhaustion all transformed in an instant into the unbridled joy usually reserved for the 5 year-olds.
A) was Darryl Sutter going to crack a smile (the answer was a resounding yes) and
B) who was going to take the Conn Smyth trophy for the MVP of the post-season, which wasn’t really a question at all as Jonathan Quick posted the best goals against average (1.41)!! and save percentage (.946)!! in the history of the NHL post-season.
So many great story lines from the post-game ceremony.
And, by the way, there is no better post-championship celebration then the passing of that Cup, from captain, to grizzled veteran, to whatever hierarchy is decided from a season’s worth of locker room speeches and longtime NHL traditions. I watched that moment and couldn’t help be choked up.
Longtime Kings fans were crying tears of joy and hugging in the aisles of Staples Center. Team president and co-owner Tim Leiweke cried right along with them. Somewhere, former Kings GM Dave Taylor, who drafted Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, probably felt like a proud papa as the hockey club a started putting together from 1997-2006 did it. The quiet and media shy current GM Dean Lombardi who made all the right trades, fires and hires and drafted Drew Doughty must’ve felt the same.
So many players vindicated. Dustin Penner for the incoming he took for his lack of production the last year and a half. Jeff Carter, whom I’ve criticized plenty for his lack of production since his acquisition along with his buddy Mike Richards. The Philadelphia Flyers top brass must be kicking themselves for exiling the dynamic duo of Carter and Richards for some questionable off-ice activities…their loss was our gain. They kissed and passed the cup to one another, the ultimate middle finger to the city of brotherly love.
And after all the gripping and all the talk of “curve curses” and the Kings attempting to make history in reverse by blowing a 3-0 lead in a Stanley Cup Final, then promptly shutting my collective pie hole right good with the ultimate victory, I leave you with this quote from James Conway played by Robert De Niro in Goodfellas: “It’s gonna be a good summer.”