It’s probably been about 20 minutes (probably even longer once this is posted) since I watched LA King’s Alec Martinez score in double overtime in a game 5 against the New York Rangers to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Easily, the King’s road in the playoffs, for me personally, was the most exciting four rounds of hockey I’ve watched in a while. A few weeks ago it was even hailed that the Western Conference Final between LA and Chicago was classic, fast-paced hockey. Needless to say, watching the King’s in the playoffs has been heart pounding and exciting, with an excellent finish.
Now, before the bandwagoning accusations start flying, let me set the record straight: I’m a diehard Red Wings fan from pre-puberty days and I laugh at modern day Kings fans who don’t know who Barry Melrose is. Below I will demonstrate my proof:
I’m about 10-years-old here; around two years after the Wings swept the Washington Capitals to be the last team to win the Cup two years in a row.
I also got arrested in October of 2011. Notice anything? That’s right! My face does look chubby!
I’m also a huge fan of the sport in general. I played for my high school and won state back in 2006. So does this eliminate any bandwagon allegations yet? If not, well, I can poop on your face if that helps.
Back to the topic at hand: the Kings, at the hands of muppet face Darryl Sutter, now lead the three California hockey teams (Anaheim-1 cup, San Jose-0, LA-2) in Stanley Cup Championships. Now, regardless of how you feel about the Kings, set aside all emotions and just hear me out. With LA bringing the Cup to SoCal twice, not only is California slowly being put on the map in regards to hockey, but it seems California residents are finally paying attention to a great sport. Now that the Lakers suck, those alleged sports fan have another local team to root for.
Throughout my childhood, basketball, baseball, and especially football dominated popular sporting events and I was always the outcast watching those pasty Europeans and Canadiens chase a piece of rubber around. Now, California’s basketball teams don’t make it past the second round of the NBA playoffs and the NFL is turning into a circus sideshow, with players bitching about pass interference to get an extra 15 yards. And baseball, well, I’ll try avoid being bias about baseball (it sucks). When the Anaheim Ducks won back in 2007, it brought some minor attention (and yes, bandwagons) to the sport. It was also great seeing Teemu Selanne get his name on the cup. I mean, who doesn’t like that guy? Unfortunately, Anaheim is not a major city like Los Angeles, so the attention is minimal. And let’s be honest: The San Jose Sharks are the San Diego Chargers of hockey. They look great in the regular season, but blow it in the playoffs. I don’t think anyone is waiting around for San Francisco’s unwanted step brother to pull off any magic.
With Los Angeles, people know that name. With Anaheim, I generally had to remind my friends in San Francisco (I spent my college life there) that it’s where Disneyland is. When I say hockey is a great sport, I don’t use “great” lightly. It’s fast, physical, intense and most of all, there’s so much respect in the game. I recommend to anyone who is new to the sport to read The Code. It discusses the aesthetics of fighting in hockey and how wrong people are when they call it “barbaric.” Anyone else notice how at the end of every playoff series there’s a handshake line? There’s so much respect and class in that sport that it’s mind boggling how people watch anything else.
And I can’t fathom how Superbowl Champs call themselves “world champs.” It’s an American sport! No one else plays it, so I guess technically, you are the best team in the world. But I was too distracted to give a fart during Kurt Russell’s pre game introductions. Going back to class in hockey, watch Teemu Selanne’s post game 7 interview, after the Ducks lost to the Kings earlier this playoff year. It was Selanne’s last NHL game and the Kings pounded their sticks on the ice (it’s a hockey way to convey various positive emotions). I think he sums it up quite nicely. “[Class] it’s what the game is about.”
Click that ^ please to further your understanding.
Once LA started gaining momentum and looked like a threat in the playoffs back in 2012 (first time since 2001) people started paying attention. I’ve noticed a surge in old friends and companions I had back in high school who started waving the King flag, but flash back to when I’m 16, they didn’t know what icing was. Now, they’re talking hockey smack and going to sports bars to rep their team. Hey, I completely agree with many of the bangwagoning accusations. Yeah, more likely than not, they’re paying attention because the Kings won. The Kings have them. The Ducks had them. The Red Wings have them. There’s no escaping it. But regardless of that, it’s a great stepping stone for hockey to gain more West Coast recognition and fans. Those poor souls who wait all year for a 16 week season (football) of prancing goons, or those who have the time to watch all 8,435 baseball games, now hopefully, have had their eyes opened. There’s a great sport being played and we can finally stop basketball from being played at every restaurant! The Mid-West and East Coast are fine; they don’t need any additional help. The West Coast does! Especially California.
We’re a coastal state. People are surf bums, potheads, hipsters, assholes, and there’s a ridiculous rivalry between NorCal and SoCal, where all the beef is really in the Bay Area for reasons I’ll never understand, other than to toot their own horn. Even if you’re a disgruntled Shark fan, look at the grand scheme of things! We’re not known for this sport on ice, but we’re slowly gaining momentum and fans along the way. It’s the last few sports played with any real heart.
Sure, some of the fans will probably dwindle away once the Kings lose their crown, but to sum all of this up, how I see this, it’s great exposure to one of the greatest sports ever played. The more fans that this sport can gather, the better. Speaking of cups, I say this with the upmost sincerity:
There is only one cup in my book and it has nothing to do with soccer.
Hockey memes courtesy of https://www.facebook.com/hockeymemepage
Check that out! Quite hilarious.