A Surly Time Three Thousand Miles From Home

I can’t say I woke up early today, or pleasantly.

20120531-225420.jpg

This was the nice bruised lump I found below my left knee in the morning. That would be where my knee slammed into the arm rest when I flew out of my seat as Kopi put the puck past Brodeur. I didn’t feel it last night because of the excitement…and the beer.

The wavering nausea that only went away at about 3pm was a small price for a fantastic day. My oh my fellow fanatics, what an experience it was to be in New Jersey for game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. For those that didn’t follow my antics on Twitter last night, let me paint a picture of images and words for you.

We left our hotel in midtown, Kopitar jersey and gear proudly displayed.

20120531-192748.jpg

20120531-192726.jpg

(Dear Old Dad)

Walking to the subway, several people shouted encouragement. Their thumbs pointing upwards for the Kings was merely the positive spin of their thumbs jamming ever downward for the Devils. You think we hate the Anaheim Ducks? Our rivalry pales in comparison to the cross-river hatred of the Rangers and Devils.

Penn Station in Manhattan. Our band of Surlies stampeding through, looking for the right train to Newark. I saw 3 Devils fans, two of which ignored us and one who shook his head, disappointed that the nearest Kings fan wasn’t 3000 miles away. I will admit we were nervous when we needed to ask for directions and we weren’t sure whether we would be given bogus information. Fortunately, we weren’t in Devils’ territory quite yet…though it was starting to smell.

Once on the train, the conductor did a double take after punching our tickets. He looked as if he wished he hadn’t. We chuckled, but had looks of our own to share.

20120531-193107.jpg

A short trip later and we were in Newark.

20120531-193235.jpg

We had to pick up the tickets from a nearby stubhub location at a hotel. Traffic was disgusting and since my dad has a bum knee and avoids walking around when possible, we sat in a cab for 15 minutes to go half a mile. Walking in to get the tickets, I started to see smatterings of Devils fans. Again, like those in the subway, they barely acknowledged the enemy presence. I was becoming increasingly convinced that Devil is a code name for Ostrich.

No matter. I had these.

20120531-193550.jpg

Then, off to Prudential Center. The scene was amazing. Hoards of people swarmed outside, the NHL Network tent set up, you probably saw it on TV, which is good, because I forgot to take a good picture of it.

20120531-211122.jpg

20120531-211137.jpg

I dove in and it didn’t take long to find pockets of Kings fans. Local news screws were swarming and stared at us, hesitant to approach the beast but fascinated that we were so close and not on our leashes. Once one of them began to interview me, asking vague questions like ‘what is going to happen tonight?’, the Devils fans all around finally took notice. A camera always draws and I wasn’t able to get out 3 words without another one walking up next to or behind me yelling about how the Kings were going to lose, Devils in 4 and to go back home. “The Kings are in the Stanley Cup Finals,” I said, “I am home.”

20120531-195054.jpg

After displaying my lung fervidity for the reporter, I moved on toward Prudential. The arena wasn’t open yet so I went and bought goodies.

20120531-200211.jpg

Forty dollars poorer I walked across the street to the local Devils bar, “The Edison Ale House.”

20120531-210936.jpg

Again, completely ignored by this sea of red. Did I smell? Or did I NOT smell, marking me as a clear pariah in a town where the corpse floating in sewage only smells a little worse.

After one beer, I saw some ladies in Kings attire. Turns out they were the flight attendants assigned to the Kings. A sweet group of Canadians from Calgary (who wrinkled their noses in disgust when I mentioned the Flames), I got a promise out of one of them that if the Kings win the Cup on the road, I’ll get emailed pictures of the chalice aboard the plane as it flies home to Los Angeles.

6:30pm and the arena doors finally open.

20120531-194759.jpg

20120531-222400.jpg

20120531-222502.jpg

The arena, unlike the city surrounding it, is bright, clean and pleasant.

20120531-224020.jpg

Mum was still the word from the locals. Well, that is not entirely true. Several stopped me to shake my hand and say “good luck”. It was eerie.

Before grabbing food and drink, I checked out our seats.

20120531-224354.jpg

Awesome. There was a faux wall directly behind our row, put there to house these gentlemen.

20120531-224329.jpg

After eating and wandering around for a while, high-fiving passing Kings fans, it was time for warm-ups.

20120531-224426.jpg

20120531-230544.jpg

This is when it set in my friends. This moment when I realized where I was, what was happening, how incredible and special it was and how much I… I…. well, I took this picture.

20120531-224438.jpg

The Kings acknowledged us a little. Couple of nods, but the icy focus was in their eyes, though they were loose enough to play around with each other. Drew Doughty led a small group of players to repeatedly check Brad Richardson mockingly as they all laughed. Justin Williams flipped a puck over the glass for a fan every second or third time he came by our group.

There was a sole Devils fan amidst our Kings numbers, in full out make-up (faces were being sprayed at several locations in and out of the arena). This piece of work can be seen in this photo.

20120531-230611.jpg

At the end of warm-ups a puck came over the glass and trickled under the netting. It bobbled and landed at her feet. As others went to grab for it, she picked it up and hurriedly threw it back over the glass in a clearly defiant act. She was booed mercilessly and gave us all an ugly look to match the ugly makeup on her horse face. As she walked toward me I said “You just bought yourself some nasty karma coming your way.”

The superstitious among Devils fans can officially blame her for their loss.

Another beer and it was time for the game.

The opening video was decent, not up to the quality of ours, but again, this is New Jersey, the smokestack capital of the world.

20120531-224852.jpg

The scene was intense.

20120531-224959.jpg

20120531-225017.jpg

The player’s took the ice and the Stanley Cup Finals began. I don’t need to elaborate on the game for you. You saw it, you watched replays over and over, you have it cached in your memory. I tried some “Go Kings Go” chants and the few other Kings fans in my section were reluctant to join. As nice as everyone was, that got them pretty upset. Still, I cheered on the Kings throughout the game. They didn’t seem to mind me cheering for specific players or plays, but the generic rally cry for the Kings rubbed them the wrong way. There was only one guy in front of me who was a really nasty whiner about me, but he mostly just muttered curses to himself.

During the first intermission Devils fans were, again, pretty tame. One guy from my section said that it was partially because, compared to Ranger fans, we Kings fans were tame. I kind of took that as an insult although he meant is as a compliment. Also, I found that in Jersey’s mental state, beating the Rangers was practically as good as winning the Cup for them and they held no animosity towards the Kings… Yet.

Bumped into a familiar face.

20120531-224832.jpg

After the Devils scored, the other shoe dropped.

Now came the curses and the incessant booing. Finally.

Devils fans are loud and, during the game, quite intense.

20120531-225030.jpg

20120531-225050.jpg

20120531-225059.jpg

They like their clap clap clapclapclap “Let’s Go Devils”, but their favorite thing is to spell. One guy yells ” Give me a D!”. They do. “Give me an E!”. So on and so forth until “What does that spell?” “Devils” two or three times. Cute.

I must say I was not in full Surly beast mode. I reigned it in several times, refrained from yelling that all the Devils fans suck, showed the courtesy not to scream “Let’s Go Kings!” at the top of my lungs. I did this vaguely out of respect for the fans, but largely because my father, who taught me how to yell like a banshee at hockey games, felt it was a shade above uncouth to be totally merciless. Turns out I’m a bit intense even for family… Perhaps especially for family.

However, he couldn’t entirely help himself either. During intermission between the third and overtime he was around a pack of Devils fans giving him a rash of crap. When they chided that the Kings were going to lose the game because the Devils had all the momentum, he said “Even if that happens, I get to go back to Los Angeles, you’ll still be in Newark.” He didn’t stick around long enough to find out how angry that comment made them.

When the game was over nothing much was said, I didn’t gloat in their faces, didn’t need to, jumped in a cab and got the hell out of Newark.

After such a spectacular evening I had to celebrate a little more, so I found a local bar, had some good conversation with New Yorkers that were and are very happy we won, and took in one last view of a city I love before bed.

20120531-225155.jpg

I will remember this trip as fondly as any I’ve taken. And it’s not over yet, I’ve extended it until Sunday. These Jersey boys will have to put up with me once more.

One image sums up the experience, one you’ve already seen.

Go Kings!



Categories: L.A. Kings News

Tags: , , , ,

48 replies

  1. Loved reading your side of the story!

  2. That was fun to read. I’m glad you wrote that and took those pictures.

  3. EXCELLENT Trip report Surly! Thank you So much!!
    You did indeed get a great experinece.. And you Represented!
    sorry about the knee… so relate.. when we went to give you tribute at that King game I whacked my ankle and did not even know it til the game was over(WIN!) and I was limpiong out of Staples with one boot off.. Well who gives a F.. Win is what Matters..
    Do us Proud Game 2
    GO KINGS GO !!!
    ALL THE WAY!!!

    • Yeah I’ve had several injuries from excitement in the seats at staples. My wife (who isnt even that into hockey but tolerates my obsession and enjoys the game live) had the worst though – she slipped and broke a rib on the arm of the seat. A true bad ass girl if ever there is one, she insisted for my sake that we stay in our seats until the game ended.

  4. Newark sounds like a shitty place to live/visit..but lol your dad had a sick comeback! Hopefully saturday the boys lay down a beating.

  5. That was you! Ha! Thanks for the blog site, this story and representing in enemy territory. It’s good to have no shame – the only way to live.

  6. Fantastic! Wish I could be there too. Represent on Saturday!

  7. Your report and story tonight fully evidences your total committment and devotion to the team and its mission to win the cup for LA and for us fans. You do us proud in serving as our proxies. You traveled the long and tortured roads through the concrete jungle and maze of transit links, all in the name of the LA Kings and the countless Kings’ fans. Your passion and allegiance to the team is truly magnificent and inspirational. You have honorably worn your Kings’ jersey to the maximum.

    You became wounded during your righteous efforts for the team’s success. For that you earn the sacred purple and gold badge of honor within the Kingdom.

    Keep up the good work and continue on with the cheers and screams and yells all in the name of victory for our beloved team.

    http://loyaltygaming.webs.com/Loyalty.jpg

    Go Kings Go!!!

  8. Nice Surly. Forego the niceties next game as we now know they only talk shit when they think they’ve won. Go Kings Go!!!

  9. Come back with another win baby!

  10. I just moved to New York and went to the game as well. First, disclaimer, I am a bit drunk. Second, hell yeah, I am so glad we are playing the Devils – tickets are really cheap compared to Staples Center or MSG tickets.

    What a game. I sat in great seats with two of my friends who are also die hard Kings fans. Super jealous that I missed Bob Miller though – nice pic. I must say, Devils fans were pretty great. They had no problem with Kings fans and almost everyone was very friendly with us. I spent the whole time trash talking with the fans behind us who hobbled off in shame after OT, haha. It was unbelievable to see Kopi’s goal. I was at the other end of the ice and I had to pause a second until the light went on til I allowed myself to go crazy.

    My friends and I were going crazy and we stuck around to celebrate with the other Kings fans. The only thing that would have made my night better would have been to go home with the hot Devils fan sitting in the row behind us. in my dreams, I am screaming, “We beat your team, and we take your women!” Haha, Go Kings Go!!!!!!!!

  11. This was an Excellent story. More, More.
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  12. Badass!! So badass!!!!! You’re almost making me regret spending all my money going to Arizona.

  13. Good Stuff Dude! Thanks for taking the time to share this. Look forward to another article and don’t be shy to cheer loud for the boys!! They’ll need ur support in game 2! Enjoy!

  14. Dude, that’s beyond cool, that’s “Spicoli” cool. I can’t think of anything better than watching a Stanley Cup Championship game involving our Kings, 3000 miles away behind enemy lines…Except sharing it with your dad. Just outstanding.

    Excellent pictures and narrative. Very exciting.

  15. Surly, so great your story. How cool to do a photo with Bob. You know this is where I live, right? Well, it is. I don’t know how you guys were able to hold it together being there for OT. I had a hard enough time just watching it on tele. (But maybe it’s easier not having to hear Doc Emrick screaming at every pass and Devils shot)?
    What a great thing to share with your dad too!

  16. Amazing trip! Well documented. Come home safely and while you’re at it, bring home another “W”.

  17. Awesome stuff.
    Give it to em tomorrow!

  18. very cool jacob. something you and your dad will cherish for a lifetime. did you hit up B Miller about writing for the blog? now that would be a cool feature. keep the karma flowing from NJ

  19. Totally jealous.

    Love it. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Nice, this almost made me smile as big as Kopi’s OT goal… almost.

  21. I love that you and your dad got to experience this together. Thats one for the forever memory banks!

    Surley you rock…and your dad.

  22. 5th Ave. Nice!

    Great piece. Well done.

  23. Great stuff. Win it for Bob!

  24. Such an exciting thing to witness in person…..and your writing makes me feel like I am there experiencing the Stanley Cup!!!
    Section 315 is proud of you Surly….keep up good work!

  25. Good read- love the picture with you behind the announcers… Hysterical!

  26. … Nice old-school Brodeur jersey on that one cat.

    Glad you’re having a good time out there, Jacob. Quite an experience.

  27. I really hate to read shit that’s real long , but that seemed real short , having fun at the Devils expence makes for a great time.

  28. Your dad is a BOSS. I ruined a perfectly good keyboard!! :D GO KINGS!

  29. Surly, you are now clued in on what music certain King players enjoy, so that maybe during warm ups tomorrow you can blast some outstanding music to the team to listen to. Green likes Bruce Springsteen.

    GO KINGS GO!!!

  30. I currently live in Dallas, TX and I’m flying home for game 4! WHOO HOO!
    I’m a fan, but you are truly the loyal Kings fan travelling all the way to the East Coast.
    Go motherf*ckin’ Kings go!
    1 down, 3 to go.

  31. Dude…the cheapest seats for 2 for Game 4 are going for almost 700 bucks! Damn! That’s some fucking cheddar!

  32. Keep us posted on game 2! Loved the article Surly.

  33. Hey Surly, my Dad passed a short while back. I envy you. I hope you are having the time of your life. Godspeed both of you. Go Kings.

    • My Dad..gone many years..was my introduction to our Beloved Sport. He and I were season ticket holders to the original San Diego Gulls. Willie ORee. Memories dear to my heart.
      GO KINGS GO!!!
      ALL THE WAY!!!

  34. Hopefully there’s not too many Devil’s fans at games 3 and 4, those assholes usually drive me nuts….and considering my jaw is wired shut right now, I can’t say shit if they do start chirping

  35. Fuck yea! You are gonna be there tonight Surly! I made the trip out for this one as well, if you’re open to the idea I’d definitely buy you a beer before the game or during an intermission to thank you for all the entertainment your fervent fandom has given me over the years of being a reader of this blog. If not, well then I’ll just do my best to match your “Go Kings, Go!” chants from up in 118.

    GO KINGS!!!!!!!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,827 other followers

%d bloggers like this: