L.A. Kings Or Hockey Fan First?

An interesting discussion ensued today. It was part of a dialogue about the Atlanta Thrashers and their move to Winnipeg. It went something like this:

Another: “Why are you a Kings’ fan, Bobby?”

Me: “Don’t know how to be anything else.”

Another: “Ok, assume the Kings no longer exist. The team moves. Do you follow them?”

Me: “Why did they move?”

Another: “Just assume they did.”

Me: “I need a reason because I have to know if burning Nokia and downtown L.A. to the ground was justified or not.”

Another: “They moved after the ownership sold the team and the new owners wanted an east coast franchise.”

Me: “So, our readers & I have torched the place.”

Another: “I guess. So, do you follow the team?”

Me: “From prison?”

Another: [rubbing his forehead while I smile]…”yes”

Me: “Yes”

Another: “Are you as intense about it?”

Me: “More so after I get out.”

Another: “See, I don’t believe you. I think you love the team because they are the L.A. Kings and I am not sure you, or 99% of any team’s fans follow their team if they move. You will still follow hockey because you are a hockey fan first, but not team because they are not in your city.”

Me: “Have you forgotten I live in Orange County?”

Another: “Same thing.”

Me: [laughing] “Say that to my co-writer. He will eat your heart.”

This discussion got me thinking. I often hear people call themselves a “hockey fan first” and a fan of their own team, if any, second. I thought about this today and the following question rang in my head – do we love the team first, sport second or vice versa? How do you know? Regardless of your answer, the follow-up question is just as interesting – why?

Update: Some of our readers let their ink do the talking. Nicely done, Tony from Huntington Beach.

LA Kings Tattoo

LA Kings Tattoo

Categories: L.A. Kings News


53 replies

  1. LA KINGS FAN…no matter if they move to Walla Walla, Washington or Hoosick Falls, New York or Clarksville, Texas….how long of a prison sentence would we get if we all alibi’d each other?????

    I would not abandon my boys at all!!!!!

    • You say that, but do you think the majority of fans would do the same? Would even 10% do the same?

      • Well truthfully…no!
        But I speak for myself and heck just reading that I was thinking about all the great road trips I could plan to make sure I saw my guys enough during the season…my mind wandered into the future.

        Yes I am a single minded LA Kings or Walla Walla Wallbangers fan :)

    • I would follow them too. Look at the Raiders. I started watching them when in LA and they are still my team. I just don’t know how I would feel if there name weren’t the Kings though. I really don’t watch any other hockey games but there’s. I was 4 when I started and I am now 30. All of my kids now watch and love the Kings too. I am die hard!!

  2. You will get a different answer depending on where you ask…

    for example, i grew up playing hockey in Socal, as my family are all east coast transplants. I learned to love hockey first and foremost…

    However, the vast majority of Kings fans have most likely never played ice hockey…one of their friends most likely had a Kings game on one day and they learned to root for the Kings….a love of hockey may have grown from that…

    you ask someone who grew up in Ontario, Canada and they were already on skates by the time they were 3 or 4 years old….the idea of hockey to that person is on a level that most people out here cant relate to

    • I agree with you but I think So CA hockey is really starting to get more momentum ice hockey wise. I think there’s some NHLers who are native CA which sounds kinda weird since it doesn’t snow here. But I play pickup with some kids that play college and they are Damn Good. I’m sure that Ontario, Canada kid is pretty damn good also.

      LA and hockey just seem to go so well together. Let’s be honest, hockey is a dirty, gritty sport. What other sport has fist fighting as part of the culture other than boxing or that MMA stuff? I live in OC now but I used to live in LA and it’s not the cleanest of cities. It’s smoggy as hell, got your different parts of LA all the way from the Valley to West LA, East LA, Beverly Hills, Venice, Downtown to South Central and everything in between. Talk about diversity man! But imo, that’s what makes LA so fucking cool. There’s no other place like it. Not only that but the Kings put NHL hockey on the map for CA first. We are the trailblazers for the sport out here. That’s a big part of why I want the cup here in LA so badly.

  3. This is easy…I’m an LA Kings fan. If the Kings are not playing, I very seldom will watch a regular season NHL game. On the other hand, I can’t remember the last time I miised attending or watching an LA kings game. Go Kings!

  4. Well, I am a fan of hockey first. I couldn’t be a fan of the Kings if I wasn’t a fan of hockey in general. That is like loving crack cocaine even though you’ve never smoked it before. Just doesn’t make sense.

    Now I think those that love the team first as opposed to hockey probably started liking hockey because they saw a Kings game on and fell in love with both at the same time.

    I used to play roller hockey when I was a kid, grew up in So Cal so not too many opportunities for ice hockey. But I fell in love with hockey first by playing it (a form of it I should say).

    Got me thinking though. I moved up here to Portland about 5-6 months ago now. Without a question I am a Kings fan still, and will stay that way, just the same as I am a Lakers fan and would never become a Trailblazers fan. I can’t wait to hand my yellow flag out my truck window once basketball season starts.

    With that said, if the team moved (as opposed to me), two things come to mind.
    1) Will they still keep the Kings name?
    If so, I would probably stay a fan. A girl left you, but she left you to go to college somewhere else or had a great job opportunity and you realized it is the best for her and want to see her succeed.
    2) Will they change the name?
    If they do, it would feel as if I had no connection anymore, it is not Kings hockey, let alone LA Kings hockey. I might try and stay a fan, but it would be like seeing your ex girlfriend who dumped you with another dude. You may still love her in your mind, but your heart will never get over the bitterness.

  5. I would be a Kings fan still, but I would also be a fan of the next team in LA (whenever that’d happen).

    Unless of course a team moved to San Diego. I would love to have at least one team down here to like. I miss the Gulls.

  6. The question is a misnomer for the actual issue. Most all of us are hockey fans first. If the Kings cease to exist, we would find a new team to follow because we love the game. “Casual” fans as we like to Call themm, or bandwagoners, are Kings fans first because they only Will watch a team in their own town. I have friends like this who Will watch the Kings play, go to games an get excited, but if there isntd a kings game on that day, But rather say a chicago-penquins game, they wont watch if because they don’t care.

    Now as for your team moving question, the answer is both. I would follow the Kings wherevlever they move, but also follow any new team that moved here after. Look at the other way around, the fan moving away from the team, it happens all the time. These are the King fans from Detroit who have season seats but will show up in their old Larionov Jersey when the Wings come to town. They absorb the team of their new city because we all want to root for a team close to us, but they also continue to root for their old home team.

    Eventually those old ties can dwindle however. I work with one of the aforementioned ex-Detroit dwellers. He said only recently did he decide that if the Kings and Wings met in the playoffs, he would root for the Kings. I would love to talk to Winnipeg fans who continued to follow the Coyotes. how long did that last and do they still care now that they have a new team? Even old die yards will most definitely take to the new team moreso than the yotes, even if up until this year they continued to be die hard yote/ex-jet fans. The same would be true Even if the Thrashers had taken on a name other than the Jets.

  7. I gotta say it’s branding for me.

    If they moved to Ohio and kept the name .. ala Cleveland Kings ..I would follow them.

    If they changed the name to the Cleveland Puckfarts … then … no I wouldn’t.

    Also, having lived in 6 other states .. i’d probably adopt one of the Stars/Preds/Lighning/Hurricanes.

  8. I’ve been a Kings fan since like 1980 or so and can’t imagine not being a Kings fan even if they moved. I’ve been playing ice hockey for about 10 years now and although I’ve always been a die hard Kings fan, playing hockey just opens it up way more in terms of appreciation.

    So for me actually playing hockey, I like watching other teams and players play the game. How they skate with the puck, their anticipation and reading plays, etc.

    If they did move, I think I’ll always be a Kings fan though. I love the sport itself but I just can’t see myself rooting for any other team. Someone once told me when the Ducks won the cup I should be stoked because the cup came to CA for the first time in history. And that if I was a real fan of hockey I should be. I told them to fuck off because it wasn’t LA that did it.

  9. I went to my first Kings game in 1977, I was 12. The Buffalo Sabres beat the Kings 5-3. I continue to loathe the Sabres, 34 years later. I now live in the East San Francisco Bay area, I will be a Kings fan ’til I die!

    • I live in the East Bay as well, I thought I’d be the only one of us out here. I notived on 680 they’ve started posting those lame as Sharks billboards. I loathe the fact that I have to see that on my way to work every day. And now I know that I wasnt the only person who had to suffer the last years nightmare playoff series in this part of the state. I felt so alone…..

  10. This is an interesting topic. I honestly could not tell you until such a time. I loved the LA Rams till they moved to St. Louis. Now I could care less about any NFL team. I loved all my girlfriends till they left by either their descesion to or I saw no feature in our relationship. I still love them, but I do not “follow” them. Tell you what. I’ll never be an Anahiem Mighty Ducks of Los Angeles fan

  11. Yo Scribe, any way for me to post a pic of my Kings tatt? The old proverb, “a picture says a thousand words” should put this question to rest. That’s one is staying with me wherever the team, or I move!

  12. Thinking about this one.

    Johnnie Unitas stayed with City of Baltimore – turned his back on Colts for moving to Indy, criticized Irsay harshly for ditching Baltimore. Embraced former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens.

    • Thought this one over. City matters. If Kings move to city I like or am indifferent to (say, Cleveland), then I follow them with affection, even if they change their name to, say, “Barons.”

      If they move to a city I hate (Dallas – and I have family there and all over TX and LOU. so I know of what I speak)or moderately but firmly dislike (Den., Atl.), then they are lost. Ex: grew up cherishing games vs. Hawks, Northstars and Blues. Northstars moved to aforementioned Dallas, and I want nothing to do with them. I then feel betrayed, kick myself for being the fool my friends say I am (for being a Kings fan), ask Mr. McNall to forgive me, and embrace Mom’s team (Hawks)’till death, knowing that they will, like the Bears, never fucking leave me.

      Of course, with Cle. or Atl, there is always hope of a return, and I would keep hoping.

      As for some team moving here, fuck them and whatever yellow horse they trot in on. I’ll show up when the Barons and Hawks come to town.

      I would never miss a playoff game unless I had to – those games show the finest examples of the various styles (Bos. V. Van., Det. V. Pitt., etc.) and show the game at its best. When the Kings are out, I watch and say: THAT is what it takes, and mentally measure out the distance between, say, Chi. or Bos. and us and think: there is no good reason why we can’t…

      • For future generations of Los Angeles hockey fans, especially young ones, I would hope that they would get either:

        1. New England Whalers (Carolina?
        Hurricanes?), Tom Webster’s old team and
        former WHA champions;
        2. Kansas City Scouts (their accomplishments
        speak for themselves);
        3. Winnipeg Jets (Phoenix? Coyotes?), former
        WHA champions.

  13. I am a mild hockey fan, and a huge kings fan. Like I am with football. I’m interested. I appreciate the game, I follow what happens, and I have some teams I’d like to see do something. But I don’t have a team and I don’t get very passionate because of that.

    I played hockey, and ill take hockey over any other sport, and I do keep tabs on the rest of the league, but I don’t think I would be SO passionate about it if I didn’t have a team to root for. And I think that’s most people. The subject (hockey) generates interest, but the identity and personality (the team) generated passion.

  14. I grew up in Southern NJ. I played my hockey on the same ice the Flyers used for their practice facility. Obviously I grew up a Flyers fan. Moved to San Diego in 98.I became a SD Gulls fan, but still followed the Flyers as best I could and started watching the Kings. Only hockey I could get on cable without Center Ice. Gulls folded and grew into more of a Kings fan. Started to go to a couple of games here and there. Finally met someone else who is a Kings fan and we both have a 10 game package and drive from SD to LA and back minimum 10 times per season, more when the Kings make the playoffs. I still follow the Flyers but I am a Kings fan first.

    All in all it is my love for the sport, not the team, that keeps me addicted. Don’t know who I would root for if the Kings moved. Could never root for a Disney team just out of principle.

  15. Speaking of other teams, watching the Caps vs Bolts game and Damn…those teams are hella Fast!

  16. … If the Kings relocated or folded, I would not be an NHL fan anymore. I can’t see myself rooting for another NHL team; I’ve put in too many years as a Kings’ fan to go that route.

    I’d probably go to minor league hockey games every now and again and might continue to work with youth hockey, so I’d still have fondness for the game, but I also think that the fondness would diminish over time.

  17. I think, for myself, I fell in love with the Kings first. I was 2 years old, my dad took me to my first game and I have been die hard about the Kings ever since. As I got older I started to become a Hockey fan as well, following other teams, watching games that didnt involve the Kings and so on. Yes, going to my first Kings game, I obviously liked Hockey, the sport itself, but the team is what drew me to the sport as well as the elements that made the game so exciting. So i think, at lease for me, it was my love for the Kings and Kings hockey that brought me to my love for the game itself.

    *Side Note: The first game I ever went to was in 1985, the Kings were playing the Oilers. I think there were 8 future Hall of Famers on the ice that night. No wonder I was hooked after that.

  18. I think most native Angelenos, like myself, grew up Kings fans, and learned to become hockey fans. Having never played the game, barely being able to skate, and having a spectator-only vision of the game, my perspective is completely Kings-centric, and my knowledge of the game is courtesy of Bob and Jim.
    That aside, I was, and still am a Rams fan. I grew up watching them, rooting for them, and seeing no other game feels the same. You know that feeling in your stomach when you are watching YOUR team succeed…or fail? I tried other teams, and I have a pleasant, ‘I root for the Chargers’ kind of feeling, but when they fail, I think, “Oh well, they’ll get them next year”. When I watch the Los Angeles Rams of St. Louis, I think “we blew it again”, or, once, “we won the Super Bowl!!”.
    So if they Kings are gone, then I would get a cable or internet package, and root for them in Hartford, Baltimore, or wherever they go. The only way to break that spell would be if we got a new expansion team, a la Cleveland Browns. Then, I would probably switch back.

  19. Like most hockey-first fans there is always a 2nd team, maybe even a 3rd that they follow. Kings is the first team for me simply because they were the only CA team when I came here. I thought SJ and ANA would grow on me but I guess the cortisone cream took care of that. I have always followed the Islanders since their 80’s haydays, Stars for Modano, etc.
    If the Kings leave town I would follow them religiously for a few years. It’s pretty easy to do these days, but I would support whatever other team took their place and eventually I would probably be a new die yard fan while keeping a sleepy eye on the Kansas City Kings.

  20. Well, I started as Pens fan, and I still think of myself as a Pens fan first, though that balance is tipping, as I continue to be able to root for my team in person here…

    And there in lies the rub. If the Kings moved from LA, I would still follow, but I’d have my Pens. The reasons for their move would probably be the biggest factor in my continuing to follow. If Anschutz pulled an Al Davis, then I’d probably swear them off.

    But, I do consider myself a fan of the game first and foremost. That being said, I don’t generally just watch any game if it’s on, it has to be a team that I at least care about nominally…or it’s the Stanley Cup ;)

    Now, my wife is born and bred SoCal’er, and my daughter is too, so the Kings will always be their team. I’m a SoCal transplant so my loyalties run differently (The Kings are the only SoCal team I will root for).

  21. Kings first, then hockey. I know that this is the case for me because I don’t care about any other team. Not even a little. There are non-Kings players I like and I very much enjoy watching highlights from other games to see all the great plays. But the thought of watching an entire game that doesn’t have the Kings sitting on one of the benches just bores me to tears (playoffs are an exception though).

    Care About
    1. Kings
    2. Hockey
    3. Certain players

    Don’t Care About
    1. 28 other teams

    Hate with every fiber of my being in a way that is totally rational but appears completely irrational to those around me except other right thinking Kings fans
    1. Ducks
    2. Ducks fans
    3. Stupid people…wait, that’s the same as #2

    If the Kings ever moved, I don’t know if I could handle it. I might have to move with them.

  22. Jacob – I like your thought about the Winnipeg fans. The standing ovation they gave their losing team on the returning game is a testament to them.

    I work with a few guys in Minneapolis. Years ago they swore allegiance to the Dallas Stars when their North Stars were taken from them. They had Ciccarelli jerseys and the whole bit. They never went to any North Stars games, though (like the rest of their fans). Now they are die hard Wild fans, and that team has a respectable fan base. Their sellout record is the envy of the league. Did the Twin Cities hockey fans learn that they’ll lose a team if they don’t attend? I don’t know. But their collective allegiance has certainly changed, and their identity along with it.

    I’d like to think I’ll always be a Kings fan no matter what. The ex-girlfriend analogies are pretty telling, though. The Dodgers are proving it can be hard to maintain your fan-liness when terrible ownership strips everything away from the team you love, and has no respect for tradition.

  23. What a ridiculous fucking question.

    It’s like asking which comes first — the chicken or the KFC extra crispy.

    Worse than that. It’s like your girlfriend asking, “Supposin’ I was in a accident an’ all my arms an’ legs an’ bones was busted an’ they hadda put my asshole where my mouth is an’ you hadda wipe both of ’em alla time an’ I was in a iron lung an’ we couldn’ fuck and I was allergic to sperm an’ always smelled bad an’ . . . Supposin’ all that . . . Would you still LOVE me?”

    The first Kings game I went to I knew it was love at first sight. If the Kings were suddenly taken from me — or in an accident where they had all their arms and legs busted and smelled bad and, etc. — I’d still follow the game, though probably without the same manic enthusiasm.

  24. I was transferred out of L.A. in 2000. I am a hockey fan, but the Kings are “my team”. I would make sure to catch the games in Nashville when the Kings came, and I would try to take an annual road trip to see them visiting another arenas (Columbus, Raleigh, Atlanta). I watch other teams on TV, but I still root for the Kings.

  25. While I am a Kings fan first and foremost, I still watch many games featuring other teams on Vs., and am also a secondary Boston Bruins fan. However, if the Kings ever leave L.A. for any reason, I will boycott the entire NHL.

  26. I am a Kings fan first, and a fan of hockey second. When I first “discovered” hockey, I was 13 years old, and it was because my friend was watching the Kings play the Oilers in the 1st round in 1992. I remember it clearly because a) it was the first game I ever saw, and b) the Kings won the game 8-5. This is the game that made me a huge fan of Paul Coffey, because he scored 2, and if I remember right, he was bad ass that game (any way I can get that game? I’d love to watch it again).

    Anyway, before that, I had no idea what hockey was, or even who the Kings were, but I obsessed about them all summer long. I found out who all the players were, and what was going on in the off season. It was like crack to me, and if you remember, it was hard to get information back then. The only thing I could rely on was the LA Times (which sounds blasphemous to me now), since the Riverside Press-Enterprise was, and has always been a sucky paper to find out anything hockey. So, I spent my own pittance of money, from mowing lawns on a newspaper subscription to the Times. Every dime I had was spent of Kings related items, and information. When I first discovered the Hockey News guide to the season, which showed all the players, and gave info on the team, all I cared about was the Kings. I rarely read the rest, because I didn’t care about the rest.

    I am now a seasoned (salty even) hockey viewer, so of course I know all the players on all the teams, but I never really cared until recently when I decided to play fantasy hockey so I could “care” about other players. I have been, and always will be a die hard Kings fan.

  27. While I truly admire the grace and skill needed to succeed in the sport of hockey*, I’m a Kings fan first and foremost. I saw my first game on television in the late 80s and I was intrigued by the sport. But then the teenage-girl obsession of those manly hockey players took over. Fortunately, (or unfortunately if you are my husband) I’ve never grown out of my lust for the Kings. In 1992, my family relocated to New Jersey. The Devils just didn’t do it for me. I remained a diehard Kings fan, even flying back for two consecutive Tip-a-Kings. I went to college in Texas…again, not interested in the Stars. Now, I’m in Arizona and bored to death by the Coyotes. But, I am pulling for them to keep the team in AZ…otherwise, I have very little chance of seeing the Kings play in person every year. Luckily, I have a sports package (not Center Ice) that will allow me to see the Kings play a lot more this year. One thing about Arizona is the lack of hockey fans. FSAZ doesn’t even televise most Coyotes games, so I have been out of luck during previous years.

    If the Kings moved, of course I would continue to be a diehard Kings fan. I moved, and remained a loyal fan, despite being tempted by teams which were sometimes more winning. I couldn’t care less about the winning or losing…it is all about the black, white (silver and purple) for me.

    *And for all those losers who think hockey is boring and too difficult to follow, I’m sorry you lack the necessary IQ points to understand the game, and/or the understanding of the mastery of something that is extremely difficult. I’d like to see you strap on some skates, pick up a stick, and put that puck in the neck…without a goaltender even. Dumbasses. Of course, while that rant made me feel better, it isn’t likely any of those morons are reading this. I can always dream.

  28. Tell Tony to come to the restaurant where I work. Mother’s Market and Kitchen on Beach Blvd. I will buy him lunch.

  29. This is tough one for me.

    When I was a kid I was a huge Rams fan. My mom would drop my brother and I off at Cal State Fullerton every morning during training camp and we would carry the players shoulder pads and helmets from the locker room to the practice field. I got to meet guys like Pat Haden, Lawrence McCutcheon, Jim and Jack Youngblood, etc.

    When the Rams moved I felt betrayed and never cheered for them again.

    I think it would come down to the reason for the move on whether or not I would remain a Kings fan.

    As far as the original question I became a fan of Hockey because of the Kings and watch a lot of NHL hockey with Center Ice but it’s always a different feeling when the Kings play.

    • I mighta kept on cheering the Rams if it hadn’t been for Georgia’s wonderfully gracious comments after they won the Superbowl.

      But I don’t watch much football any more.

      Then again, in sports like football and baseball the drama is in the interval between the events. We wait for that 3-and-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth of a tie game with the bases loaded. We linger on the sidelines with 2 seconds left on the clock and it’s fourth and goal-to-go. Our hearts beat faster, our dicks stiffen, our palms sweat.

      In hockey, on the other hand, the excitement is in the play itself. We can go all period long, foaming at the mouth, virtually spastic with rage and orgasm.

  30. Kings fan first.

    I lived in Chicago for 10 years (over 2 stretches) and at one point had season tix there (in the old barn — what a building!).

    My company has a 1/8th share of a box at staples center. From ’06-09 I could pretty much count on 5 free tickets as they couldn’t get anyone to go to the games. I went because I like hockey.

    Then the Kings got better.

    Then the Blackhawks won the cup.

    And, the Kings got better.

    Last year I had a partial season ticket (ended up going to 25 or so games.) I decided that whenever it was a LAK v CHI game, I’d just root for the home team. Seemed fair. The Kings got blown out in Chicago (4-1? or something like that.) I was pretty pissed. It made me realize…

    …I’m a Kings fan.

    And, now I have a full season ticket. Because, I’m a Kings fan first.

    The ‘Hawks are still a sentimental favorite but no more than that. I always root for the Kings now.

    If they play on a Friday, I wear the appropriate (home, away, or third) sweater to the office. If they play on another workday, I happen to always wear black jeans and a white shirt that day. It’s not a coincidence.



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