The Miracle on Manchester, the playoff run in ’93, the Stunner at Staples — these are just three of the many proud moments in Los Angeles Kings history. But, with all due respect to the aforementioned, they do, to a large degree, pale in comparison to the night of June 11, 2012, when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup crown.
It was a euphoric ending to a special night, but the buildup was just as significant.
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After Game 3, Kings fans were simply preparing themselves for the inevitable as they put a 3-0 stranglehold against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils. Anything was possible but it had been 70 years since a team overcame a 0-3 series deficit to win Lord Stanley’s mug. The Devils, though, staved off elimination in Game 4 and two nights later, won again as they handed the Kings just their first road loss of the playoffs. More importantly, though, the Kings’ once-comfortable lead was gone. All of a sudden, whether the Kings winning it all wasn’t the big news but instead whether they could avoid one of the biggest collapses in hockey history. Thankfully for Kings fans everywhere, they could — and they did.
While yours truly was 3,000 miles away, the night was no less special than those packing the rafters of STAPLES Center.
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The anticipation was palpable and the buildup was established as the Kings put forth one of the most motivated efforts imaginable.
It all started when Rob Scuderi drew a critical five-minute major and by the end of it, they held a convincing 3-0 lead, started off by captain Dustin Brown who, despite being quiet in the Finals, opened the game with two goals — even though the latter was later credited to Jeff Carter.
While the game did become quite one-sided, the goosebumps did not subside. The excitement of what was waiting at evening’s end was almost too much to bear. Listening to CBC‘s Jim Hughson list off every member of the franchise past and present who deserved this before stepping away from the microphone to let spectators listen to the 18,000-plus at STAPLES Center ring in a new era. For yours truly who eight years earlier, jumped and screamed all over the floor when his beloved Boston Red Sox won their long-awaited World Series, this was a similar feeling, but an entirely different one.
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While the Red Sox were an established championship winner by 2007, the Kings were still where they usually found themselves: at the bottom of the standings. But when yours truly was on his knees, speechless and on the precipice of tears, he realized that it was a different sort of euphoric when the Kings won the Stanley Cup.
From George Maguire to Sam McMaster, the Los Angeles Kings had been infamously known as one of the worst-managed teams in hockey. There were so many rebuilding phases that had failed, so many draft picks that had, if you will, faded into oblivion. But then came Dean Lombardi who put a five-year plan in place and while it was frustratingly long, the Kings’ new boss made things right.
From wise drafting to shrewd trading, the Los Angeles Kings had finally turned a corner, and, as a result, went down in history.
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This was for the fans who have been there ’67, 2012 and everywhere in between. This was for my big brother who was the reason I became a Kings fan, this was for Dean Lombardi who made said frustratingly-long rebuilding process well worth it, this was for Darryl Sutter, this was for Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis, this was for Tanner Raboin and the entire Raboin family, this was for Kings fans all over the world, this was for all the players past and present, this was for Bob Miller and Jim Fox, this was for long-time trainer Pete Demers, the entire Kings family, this was for all the joy, all the sadness, all the frustration we’ve all experienced over the years, this was for Los Angeles, this was for everyone.
This writer, along with Kings fans everywhere, will never forget where they were on the night of June 11, 2012, and four years later, we still remember arguably the greatest moment in the franchise’s deep-rooted history for this was a moment that will live with the Los Angeles Kings and their loyal fans for the rest of their lives.