Welcome To Hockeywood, USA

By Cole Feinbloom aka cfagent0

 

As I have learned throughout my life, no matter what the analysts, players, and locals say, Los Angeles is definitely not a hockey town. Growing up, listening to the stories my father would tell me as I watched Felix Potvin, Adam Deadmarsh, and Zigmund Palffy go relatively unnoticed in the state of California, I have come to the realization that hockey is a niche sport, you either love it or hate it. Well, this is not the case anymore. Now, the insight of a high school student may not be as relevant to you as that of an adult, but I think I speak on behalf of all long time Kings fans in that no one has comprehended the fact that the cup is in our hands. It may not be a miracle in the eyes of NHL staff or players, or maybe even fans, but in my eyes it is.

Now, you may be questioning my wording in stating the Kings victory as a miracle, but I don’t see how it’s not. Let’s set the record straight, I am not by any means diminishing the fact that the Kings breezed through the playoffs, but just as USA brought the country together in the 1980 Olympics, for a brief fleeing moment, the Kings brought Los Angeles together. For that brief but magnificent moment, nobody was discussing the playoff play of the Lakers and Clippers. No one was talking about how the Dodgers were taking the MLB by storm with the best record in the league. For this one moment, all eyes watched the Kings hoist the cup for the first time in franchise history.

Never in my wildest dreams had I even remotely thought of the magnitude of this Stanley Cup victory. As we sat on the couch and watched the seconds tick off the clock, we didn’t scream and yell, we didn’t jump up and down, we sat there, goose bumps on our skin, trying to take in that one of the greatest moments in our life just happened, and finally, at long last, the city was there to embrace it all. Even if all these fans hopped on the bandwagon a day before game six, after they crushed Phoenix, before the playoffs started, or have never watched hockey in all their life, they still cared, and for once, the Kings topped all other Los Angeles sports teams.

Way back in the 1970s, when the Kings played their games at The Forum, they were extremely irrelevant in Los Angeles. Former Kings owner Jack Cooke summed it up best, saying: “There are 600,000 Canadians living in southern California. I now know why they moved here – they all hate hockey.” With the attendance the Kings were getting, this quote was right on the money. One of my favorite stories of my father is how he and his friend would purchase tickets in the nose bleeds for $5, and move down to the first few rows because no one showed up to the games. This is not the case anymore. You can’t even buy food for $5 at Staples Center, but that is a story for another day. The fact is, from this point on, the Kings are relevant. People can now root for the Stanley Cup champions, and as of June 11, 2012, Los Angeles is a hockey town. Whether permanent or not, it doesn’t matter. For a long time, die hard fans, the Stanley Cup was a long time coming, but for hockey to become popular in the warm and sunny Southern California, was a long time coming as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong, fans from every city root for the local team that is winning, whether a true fan or not, but certain aspects of this years team boosted the fan base by unimaginable numbers. For instance, an American captain in Dustin Brown leading the squad. Three outstanding rookies in Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, and Slava Voynov, whose remarkable play shocked the hockey world. Oh, and I almost forgot about that guy named Quick. I think he helped a bit as well, as did every other member of the team.

Truth is relative to the individual, but as of now, the truth is relative to the 3,792,621 people living in Los Angeles that the Kings are the victors. I will embrace this moment, and truthfully, I don’t mind if it never happens again in my lifetime. I’m still unsure of how to react. It still has not sunk in for me that the Kings took home Lord Stanley’s Cup, and I am not even sure if it ever will. But the one thing I now can proudly say to all of you: Welcome to Hockeywood, USA.