Lights, Camera, Action!
For the first time in their 45 year history the Los Angeles Kings will be playing a game to win the Stanley Cup. The Kings other trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993 amounted to only one win and a series loss against the Montreal Canadiens, 19 years later L.A. only needs one more game.
The Kings postseason campaign has been taken right out of a Hollywood script. Substantial underdogs, the Kings ran through the top three seeds in the western conference suffering only two losses. Two overtime victories and a blowout later in the finals and the Kings are a step away from becoming NHL royalty.
Most fitting, the potential clinching game will be in Los Angeles. Kings' hysteria has reached an all-time high and what started off as a small bandwagon has launched into an unstoppable juggernaut. It would be too petty, too incomplete, too ignorant to evade the Kings' woeful past and the grief subjected to their loyal fans.
Kings history has been sketched with a red sharpie. The Kings declared bankruptcy in 1995, had to release Wayne Gretzky to the Blues in 1996, and fans donning black and white still have nightmares of Marty McSorley's curved stick. L.A. scouts Garnett Bailey and Mark Bavis were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A span of injuries resulted in early playoff exits.
In a 45 year long timeline the Kings have had few highlights. Most notable: In 1982, "The Miracle on Manchester" where Daryl Evans slapshot gave the Kings an overtime victory after being down 5-0 to the Edmonton Oilers in game three of the opening round playoffs. Acquiring "The Great One" in 1988 and a Stanley Cup Finals in 1993.
But the Kings greatest moment (to this date) occured with little recognition. The Kings' 2005 draft has and will continue to shape this teams future. The Kings most influential players this postseason, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, joined the Kings with the 11th and 73rd picks respectively.
Fast forward seven years and the Kings are the hottest team in hockey. Add some timely late-season trades, a coaching change mid-season, and confidence through the roof and the result is a possible Stanley Cup Finals sweep.
The scene before game three in the Staples Center did not resemble a hockey game. In a pitch-black arena the only source of light was rampant green lasers from the ceiling and 18,000 tiny glowsticks. Other than random screams of encouragement, fans synchronized in "Go Kings Go" chants and my personal favorite, "Maaaarty, Maaaarty" imitating and mocking the fans in New Jersey.
A crazed crowd for game three will pale in comparison to what we will witness tonight. Don't be suprised to see streamers, fireworks, roman candles, cannons? The Staples Center will be like a halloween party where diehard fans dress in costumes that will make their mothers ashamed. Don't be suprised to see mothers dressed like lunatics.
Kings hysteria has reached a boiling point and after 45 difficult years the fans deserve to go crazy.