16 games have been won, the Cup has been lifted, the parade is over. The Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup Champions.
In the excitement and exhilaration that came with the Kings winning Game 4 over the Devils, I’ll admit that I had a hard time finding the time to write this article; better late than never.
With a 6-1 decisive victory, the Kings raised their first Stanley Cup in their 45 year existence. It was a game that was essentially over after the first period, with Steve Bernier getting a 5-minute major for boarding and the Kings converting 3 times on the Powerplay. As a fan of the Kings, it was an amazing period to watch and it left little room for doubting the outcome. That said, one had to feel for Bernier on the play.
From Fox Sports West:
“I felt very bad, but it’s a fast game out there and it ends up being a bad play,” Bernier said after the game. “You want to help your team win, not to get five minutes and help them lose. … I didn’t watch (the game). I stayed here and tried to listen to the crowd. It was very hard, for sure. I wish I could take that play back, but I can’t. … Listening and knowing they score three goals, knowing it was your penalty, it’s very, very tough.”
One has to give the Devils credit, they didn’t give up. Even after the Kings rattled off 3 goals on the powerplay, the Devils came back and nearly netted a goal before the end of the 1st, ringing a shot off the post.
In the end it was too little, too late. The Kings emerged victorious and Jonathan Quick wrapped up his first-ever (and much deserved Conn Smythe).
At this point the game has been recapped time and time again, with hundreds of stories analyzing every aspect of the game and the series. Rather than do the same, I’d just like to point out a few things that happened in the post-game melee, which will stick with me for the rest of my life:
-Dustin Brown was the first player to ever hoist the Stanley Cup wearing a Los Angeles Kings jersey.
-As amazing as it was to see Brown lift the Cup, the best moment for me was when he handed it to Willie Mitchell shortly after; it was a moment that was reminiscent of Joe Sakic handing the Cup to Ray Bourque in Colorado. Few players in Los Angeles deserved to hoist the Cup more than Mitchell, with all of the issues he’s had with injuries over the years, and I was happy that the Kings were able to make his dream come true.
-Bob Miller, long-time voice of the Kings, was able to call the game with his co-host Jim Fox, even though the game wasn’t broadcasted by the Kings’ local affiliate. I look forward to watching the game again on DVD, with the hometown play-by-play guys describing the action. I may be a little biased, but the Kings have one of the best TV duos in the NHL.
-Ron Hextall was able to hoist the Cup as part of LA’s management team. I’m sure it didn’t make up for the fact that he didn’t have the chance to do it as a player, but I bet it helped a little.
-When Darryl Sutter was hired in September, I admit I thought it was a mistake. However, seeing him lift the Cup with the rest of the team was a wonderful moment and I will be the first to admit that I was wrong in my assessment of him. He was the right man for the job and over the course of the year I have gained an enormous amount of respect for him.
-Simon Gagne was able to come back from yet another significant concussion and fill a fourth line role for the Kings in the finals. While they would never admit it, there’s part of me that thinks the Kings put Gagne in the lineup so that he could have that experience and have his name on the Cup. Early in the season Gagne played great for the Kings and was one if their few offensive bright spots. His healthy return was a really nice way to cap off the final.
-The Kings were able to win the Cup with a lot of players that weren’t always expected to amount to much:
- Trevor Lewis played a key role on the third line all playoffs, but spent much of his time under Terry Murray in the press box. Lewis was a highly touted first round draft pick who spent a number of years battling consistency and injuries in the minors. Some had given up on his development, Dean Lombardi did not.
- We’ve all heard the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter stories over the past few days, but I would just like to say that I could not be happier to have both of these players on my team. I’m glad they were able to win the Cup together in Los Angeles, and I was happy they were able to prove their doubters wrong. I don’t want to upset too many people in Philly, but Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds was a small price to pay for the Cup.
- Dustin Penner had a bounce-back post-season for the Kings and was a key cog in their championship. While I don’t believe the Kings will bring him back next year, he has certainly silenced some of his critics and shown that he can still play hockey.
-Finally, in my opinion, the ultimate ‘team guys’ on the Kings this year were Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser. Two guys that didn’t complain about ice-time, battled through tough slumps and changes in roles, and came through for the team when they needed them. Both are free agents next season and I sincerely hope that they will be wearing Kings jerseys when the puck drops on the first day of the regular season.
With that, I wrap up the 2011-2012 season on Monarchy Hockey. I’ll be back throughout the off-season with some updates on the draft, free agency, and maybe a story or two about the Cup’s travels with the Kings. Thanks for tuning in over the course of this amazing (and let’s be honest, unexpected) Stanley Cup run.