Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The LA Kings Win the Cup...Hell Freezes Over
Oh hockey, how I love you. The most unlikely Stanley Cup champion in quite some time, the Los Angeles Kings had so much going against them that it’s a wonder they got as far as they did in the playoffs, let alone be the team to hoist the Cup. They barely got in the playoffs to begin with, and then they did the impossible: they went on a 16-4 tare, knocking out the three best teams in the Western Conference (and the NHL as a whole) before taking out the New Jersey Devils in 6 games. Yes folks, it’s unbelievable. What makes it unbelievable you ask? Well, let’s look at what they overcame to take it all the way:
The Kings stumbled out of the gate in the beginning of the season, leading them to fire their coach (and Flyers alumnus) Terry Murray, replacing him with Daryl Sutter midway through the year. They continued to stumble, barely squeaking into the post-season and struggling under Sutter’s defense-first system. But Jesus Christ almighty, they did it. Sutter, who was last seen in the NHL as the GM that mismanaged the Calgary Flames into oblivion, did the impossible.
In the off-season, they acquired Mike Richards, and at the trade deadline, acquired his drinking buddy/wingman Jeff Carter; both of whom had been exiled from the Flyers for their hard-partying ways. They also signed former Flyer Simon Gagne, who is a shell of his former self after numerous injuries. Not to mention the fact that they had Dustin Penner: a player that had been persecuted for his lack of game-shape-ness and the fact he hurt himself eating pancakes (I’m dead serious). Yet somehow, they came together to win it all.
For everything the Kings had going against them, they managed to win their first championship in their 45 year history. Something they couldn’t do when they had Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake, or Jarri Kurri. They did it with a coach and players that were seen as massive underachievers. They grinded it out against a tough Devils team, and rode the back of lights-out goaltender (and former Reading Royals product) Jonathan Quick. They were the lowest-seeded team in the NHL playoffs, and they managed to pull it all off with dominance. This folks is why I love hockey and why I love the NHL: anything can happen, even the impossible.
Okay, now with all that out of the way, here’s a list of Flyers alumni that were part of this Kings team that won it all: Richards, Carter, Gagne, Justin Williams, assistant coach John Stevens, GM Dean Lombardi, and assistant GM (and Flyers goaltender great) Ron Hextall. Yeah, these guys were called Flyers West for a reason.
Also, let’s start taking the over/under now for Richards and/or Carter dying from alcohol poisoning within the next couple days.