As the pandemonium of celebration kept going on the ice long after the final whistle had blown for these 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was good to see the past and present of LA King players congratulate each other. Some like ‘Lucky’ Luc Robitaille, the teams club President of Business Operations and HNIC commentator Kelly Rudy smiling so proudly of the ‘New’ Generation of players who have after 45 years finally brought true royality to the Kings organization by winning the Stanley Cup.
Looking over the past season quickly and recalling that if the playoffs were to actually start after playing just the old 80 game schedule, the LA Kings would not of been in these playoffs at all. It wasn’t til game 81 when they were officially invited into the postseason and in fact with 14 games remaining they were stuck in the 11th spot and wondering what was happening?
Well I will tell you what was happening along those last 14 games, a team was finding it’s true indentity, it was finding the belief in themselves and trust amongst their own and finally what they were doing and realizing was not what got them here but who got them here that they needed to see. That man was General Manager Dean Lombardi.
It was his vision and passion over the past 5 to 6 years that has the City of LA LA Land dancing in the streets. It was his draft choices and calculated trades that were picked that solidified a core of young players that someday in the GM’s vision that would raise the cup in triumph. It was his fortitude to bring in his best ‘Bud, Darryl Sutter’ to give the team a indentity that was the last thing it was missing.
Once these playoffs started the Kings rolled through whatever was standing in their way. Beating rivals Vancouver 4-1 in games winning 3 on the road. Then came St. Louis Blues another up and coming team but they could not with stand the power-wave the Kings were on, going down 4 straight and another 2 road wins built up. Onto the third round they moved and up against a surprising team out of the desert of Pheonix, the Kings took battle upon the Coyotes but again made short order of them defeating them 4-1 in games, notching up another 3 road wins. As the Kings had a few days off waiting for the east to finalize their series the King players were really starting to realize what they had a hold of here, what was coming forward to them was a child filled realization of hoisting the Stanley Cup. But as they say, you can not count your chickens before their hatched as the New Jersey Devils of the east were humming along nicely to and were pumped to break up the ‘Cinderella’ story playoff run by the Kings.
As the story has been unfolded before our eyes these past couple of weeks the Kings were not going to be denied. Getting off to a quick start, going up 2 games to none in Jersey, then another game won in LA to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series, it was a ‘sure thing’ that the Kings would be crowned champions but the ‘Red Devils’ had other plans to stall the parade.
Going into game 4 the Devils, a must win needed and then accomplished right in LA’s home barn. Now back to New Jersey where the Kings would be rewarded the cup as they had not lost two in a row through these playoffs. But again denied by the Devils who have now starved off two time elimination tries by the Kings. Now the Kings were thinking (maybe to much!) have we lost our chance to win? while down the hall the Devils start thinking and believing they have a chance to make history. Through a game of turnmoil and unfortunate calls ( This lost game was not Steve Bernier fault, period!) the Kings kept rolling along like they have been doing throughout these playoffs, with the young core of players that a GM who had the vision and belief in the past and in the future of what had been accomplished and what was being accomplished that very night.
Well history was to be made last night, history of a franchise who has been waiting 45 years for this ‘Crowning’ moment.
Long Live The Kings, Stanley Cup Champions!
Yes indeed, a ‘Cinderella’ finish for sure.
By Warren Nye, UltimateHockeySource.com
June 13th, 2012