A Kingly Victory……over a long history!

Knowing hockey players is a rarity.  For those who have met them personally it is quite amazing really.  Warren Rychel played for the Kings back in the “Great One” days of 1993.  The Kings contended for the Stanley Cup and even with Luke Robitaille and the array of the fantastic players surrounding  Wayne “the Great One” Gretzky…..they just came up short.  It was a very rare privilege to know Warren and meet many of his teammates “in the day”.  We still have his autographed photo in his Kings uniform and the team photo. 

There is something so real about hockey players that you don’t always find in competitive professional sports.  Maybe it all started with that great movie with Paul Newman called “Slap Shot”.  Maybe every kid in Canada, Upper Peninsula of Michigan and where hockey was played in the world…..all wanted to be like the “Chiefs” and Paul Newman.  These guys are just plain cool.  Half of these guys have fewer teeth than a new born baby.  They are relatively young, mostly under 30 years of age.  The older guys (over 30) are really beat up, with various leg, back, neck and head injuries.  They play a game that causes folks to be slammed into “the boards” as they call them and sometimes can’t get up.

Hockey is based on Blue Lines, Icing, Goalies, Off Sides, Power Plays, Short Handed Goals, Quiet Stoic Coaches, Drop Gloves Fighting on the Ice, Mid-Season Trades and of course the pivotal and necessary Penalty Box.  Some folks use their Hockey sticks like swords and cut people’s ears, eyes, noses, lips and teeth.   They also have been known to trip, clip, slash and hit over the head opposing players with their sticks.  They usually go to the Penalty Box for 2 to 5 minutes.  The 5 minute variety are called  Major Penalties.  Days later after a Major Penalty, the Commissioner of the National Hockey League might even assess a serious fine for “just being mean”.  When a player goes to the Penalty Box their team is without them or any replacement for whatever time is assessed.  Sometimes, upwards of three members of one team can be sitting in the Penalty Box at one time.  When your team is three skaters down….their is every chance – you will be scored on.  A Short Handed Goal is even more exciting…..when teams are down several players and still able to score!

Hockey is an International Game and the countries of Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czechoslavkia have yielded lots of wonderful and talented players.  When the NHL allowed International Players…..it changed the U.S. game forever.  Up until that time, players had been restricted to their own countries…..and of course those famous words by Al Michaels during the 1980 Olympic Finals against the then USSR:  “Do you believe in miracles?”  The young Americans that won that game against the Russians became some the NHL’s great players for years.

The LA KINGS came to the LA Sports Arena 45 years ago.  The thought that a place with palm trees and surfers could create any buzz about Ice Hockey was truly a pipe dream.  The years have come and gone….and even when Wayne Gretzky came to the LA KINGS – the KINGS could not win the Stanley Cup.  The top of the mountain for the KINGS were a few appearances in the Finals, Semi-Finals and Quarter Finals.  Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!  The 2011-2012 season was looking to be a repeat of so many prior years.  The KINGS even fired their Coach and replaced him half-way through the season.   Trades were made, then additions, then more trades and the KINGS ended the 2012 Season as one of the last seeds for the run for the cup.  They had injuries to key players.

Then the KINGS started to win and win and win.  Their Goalie Jonathan Quick – the MVP of the Championship Series was unconscious in his ability to deflect incredible shots of top flight NHL teams.  Suddenly, the LA KINGS found their scoring tools.  They found a NO-NAME offense of superb and great players from half a dozen NHL Teams.  They scored!!!  After winning the three opening  games against the New Jersey Devils, in a best of seven series…..they lost.  They lost the next two games and the stomachs of LA KING fans were starting to turn into that old familiar feeling. 

In game six, the teams came back to LA.  The packed 20,000 plus fans jammed every nook and cranny.  Some folks at home refused to watch the game, because they didn’t want to risk superstitious failure.  They would watch a 30 minute program and switch back to the game, just to observe the score.  After two and half hours, Fred Roggin the great LA sportscaster was planted firmly on the ice of Staples Center.  Fans in the aisles held each other, tears streaming down their faces and the screams of cheers continued for three more hours, both inside and outside Staples.  As each player spoke to Roggin their demeanor was quiet, caring and full of respect for both the game and the LA KINGS organization.  The individual accomplishments of the 6 to 1 defeat of the New Jersey Devils in the finals of the Stanley Cup seemed not to matter.  They all truly felt a wonderful inner joy that a great team had been assembled and they had done something very special “together”!

Each Player took the 35 pound Silver Stanley Cup in hand and raised it over their heads and skated around the ice.  The LA KINGS had finally done what they had been trying to do for 45 years……prove their were the best Hockey Team in the land.  So, for all those who may not understand or care about ice hockey, but appreciate great effort and excellence of character and talent:   “Do you believe in miracles?”

Congratulations LA KINGS, you have done a wonderful thing for the City of Los Angeles and all those who have gone before in your quest.  To Warren Rychel and Wayne Gretzky and Luke Robitaille – God Bless you and all the fans – we have “The Great One” for all of us to remember!  Now, just stay those same wonderful guys you saw in “Slap Shot” with Paul Newman.  That is how we will remember you – always!  In a Kingly Victory….over a long history!  They say the first Stanley Cup is always the hardest…..well, the Kings have theirs now and deservedly so!






About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk show...is the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.