Los Angeles, California Home of the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings
I used to hate hearing it. The same old line over and over. And it wasn’t even the old “wait ‘till next year” slogan that is more linked to the Cubs and, prior to 2004, the Red Sox.
No, as a Los Angeles Kings fan, it was always “in two to three years, the Kings will be there.” I would go to a Kings game and after each loss, it was guaranteed someone walking out of the Forum, the Kings home until 1999, or their current home, the Staples Center, would toss it out. And usually there was a transplanted Michiganian or Chicagoan standing there ready to say “Maybe they need a name change – to the Queens!” I guess the multi-year waiting period was simply our way of saying we knew the team was light years, not one year, away from the big time.
Well, two-or-three years finally arrived, albeit it took 19 years, or 45 years, depending on if your starting point was the 1993 team that lost in the Cup finals or 1967 when the team first took the ice. The Stanley cup now resides in a city where the Canadian Lord himself never thought it would be on display. As much as I hate any team with Boston or New England in the name, I can proudly say I have something in common with the Red Sox nation, at least prior to 2004, or 1903 depending again on your starting point, - you never thought the day would come but it did.
ESPN reporter Ramona Shelburne told a radio audience Tuesday morning that being a Kings fan was like a marriage-you go through as many bad times as good (geez, not sure what that says about her three-year marriage at this point). I can’t relate to her analogy though I think if my wife was on a lifeboat and she had to choose between throwing Kings tickets or me overboard in order to survive, she might ask for a few minutes to think it over. No, for me, being a Kings fan is more like the time I took my sister-in-law’s husband to a restaurant called “RJ’s For Ribs” and he ordered the fish. Yeah, he was that stupid.
I mean a night at a hockey game, a sport that, arguably, might be the only sport enjoyed one hundred fold more live than on TV, is special. The fans are great and there is electricity in the air. It is fun when the Red Wings or Blackhawks are in town and half the crowd is wearing red. It was fun when the scoreboard camera once focused on a beautiful blonde cheering and, after seeing herself on the big screen, she proceeded to dispense of her leather jacket and began lifting her t-shirt before the cameraman remembered there were children in the crowd. It was just too bad that the whole menu couldn’t be good. The Kings were the fish dinner at a place known for steaks.
But that is all behind long-suffering fans. It feels good knowing that the Kings play-by-play announcer, the much beloved Bob Miller who has been the voice of the Kings since 1973, finally got a chance to see the team win. It is good to know the majority of this team was actually drafted by the Kings. Seeing the Kings hoist the cup reminds me of one of those self-help stroke job gurus telling you to forget the past and focus on the here and now. All the disappointments, all the bad times, are washed away and suddenly it is about the present and the future. Any ill-will I had towards the empty promises of Kings management are gone now.
Funny, I never hated Bill Buckner for muffing that ground ball in 1986. But I think I understand how it feels to forgive him.