From Dream To Reality – Your Los Angeles Kings, Stanley Cup Champions

Throughout my life desires, fears and dreams have changed.

When I was six I wanted to be Wayne Gretzky. When I was fourteen, and again at twenty-two, I wanted to be Tiger Woods. At eighteen I wanted to design characters for video games. At sixteen I just wanted to write and at twenty-five I wanted to be Danny Boyle (the director, not the sour-faced neanderthal defenseman).

There have been phases of craving travel and periods of nurturing my home. I’ve feared failure, I’ve been terrified of success. I’ve been a Jew, an atheist, a Buddhist, apathetic and genuinely confused. A family man and a loner, a craver of spotlights and a lover of shadows. I’ve lived with a righteous edge, a carefree saunter, a manly snarl and a feminine demureness. I’ve vacillated between maniacally egotistical and detrimentally humble. I’ve been blissfully ignorant, joyfully knowledgable and catatonically depressed.

Single-mindedness has never been a virtue I’ve harbored.

However there are exceptions to everything and as far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to see the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup.

You know the feeling.

As I sat down in an unfamiliar seat in section 207 at Staples Center, I settled in to watch a replay of the final five minutes of a hockey game I will never forget. After having stood in the heat for three hours to watch the Kings pass by in buses filled with family and hardware for a few minutes, I was bordering on tuckered out. The cold beer on my lips, the sight of game six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals and the voice on Bob Miller caressing my ear with his call of the game renewed my vigor. So excited was I for the Kings Cup Rally that the lack of sleep and the fact that I was alone without any of my normal Kings fan cohorts failed to put the slightest damper on the promise of the moments to follow. Me, the malcontent that had an irrational and outspoken disdain for rallys of all kinds throughout every level of education in which I was forced to participate to the point of maddening feelings of disenfranchisement (who, after all, threw the rally for the grumpy teenager who hated rallys?), was barely able to sit still. I didn’t know what to expect, mostly speeches I was sure, lots of platitudes repackaged and repeated by those required to address a group of people they may or may not truly care about in earnest.

It didn’t really matter what was to come, it represented the culmination of a lifetime of struggle, the cessation of an ever-present pang of desire, and I was excited. And why not? Why shouldn’t I be excited?

The Los Angeles Kings had won the Stanley Cup.

Just three days before, I was there. I saw it. I watched twenty players in red solemnly shake the hands of twenty in black. I jumped and screamed like a madman, tackling people in narrow aisles the same as large men in padding tackled each other on a frozen indoor lake. I was mesmerized by the appearance of a beacon of silver light such as I had never witnessed as Lord Stanley’s Cup, the trophy other trophies aspire to, was hauled down a red carpet. Blinded by watery eyes and streaking reflections as the thirty-five pound marvel was hoisted again and again and again, kissed tenderly and thrust skyward jubilantly.

Adrenaline kept me ignorant of the fact that I was overcome with shock, rapidly and greedily gathering sensory information in an attempt to store, catalog and redistribute sights, sounds, thoughts and emotions. The excitement level has not been matched by anything that I care to remember. Whether that is the truth of my experiences or another symptom of shock, only the years will reveal.

This week, this Finals series, these last two months of hockey have been a bejeweled escapade. I’ve been, like you, swept up in a whirlwind of enraptured tenacity, often consumed with joy and at times beleaguered by anxiety. There were things I needed to do. Calls to be made, projects to start and to finish, clutter to be cleaned and much tedium of everyday life to be addressed. All were shoved without remorse into places of my mind and house where they could not trouble or distract me from what my heart told me was truly important. Life comes and goes, responsibilities wax and wane, funds are earned and spent but this Los Angeles Kings playoff run was special from the onset. It felt… necessary.

It was not until after the St. Louis Blues had been swept brusquely out of town and the playoffs that the concept of winning the Stanley Cup this year fortified in my hockey soul. After game one against Vancouver in the first round, what sixth sense I feign to have was piqued. The ferocity with which Dustin Brown hit, the deception that Mike Richards sprung on Roberto Luongo, the game without flaw that Anze Kopitar deployed, the spectacular and timely scoring chances that Jonathan Quick denied and others that the defense refused to let germinate, these things and more put the scent of victory in the air. All it took was one whiff for the rest of my world to fade away.

Game five, Jarrett Stoll beats Cory Schneider high glove in overtime and the Kings had won their first round of playoff hockey in a decade. That was as good as it gets, at that time. That night I left my father’s house with the warmth of proud hugs steaming off my chest to the sound of the neighbor’s dogs still barking at the sudden outburst of raucous commotion. Then I watched in awe as Blues shook Kings’ hands without the pleasure of enjoying a single victory and the next day I was horribly hungover. That was definitely as good as it gets. So good in fact that a flight to the desolation known as Glendale, Arizona was quickly arranged. One invasion, five games and four more wins later and I found myself with three thousand of you standing in the cold outside LAX at one in the morning and I’d never been happier. As good as it gets kept getting better.

From zero to sixty I’d gone, and from sixty to thirty-thousand I went again, this time to New York. Two magnificent trips to Newark (a sentence never constructed before this day), three more wins and the first scary moment of the playoffs followed and as good as it gets was getting threatened by as bad as worse could become.

I prayed.

I meditated.

I walked into Staples Center one last time.

Like passing through a wormhole, strobing lights, gliding objects, blaring cacophonies and congested emotions swirled, expanded and collapsed and suddenly I find myself here now, and its over. Without warning or the courtesy of a soft landing, there is nothing to look forward to and I’m lost in refractory. The one thing I was sure I wanted in life, I have. I’ve had it all week but I didn’t realize what I had it until I sat in that unfamiliar seat in section 207 at Staples Center and waited for the Kings Cup Rally to begin. I had heard Bob Miller say the words on youtube, disjointed, without context. I’d heard Mike Emrick say them and Nick Nickson too. I’d said them to myself when I saw it unfold in front of me.

“The Kings are Stanley Cup Champions”

When I first heard Bob Miller’s call of the Kings winning the Cup, it was anticlimactic. It was too soon, too, oh, only 30 seconds on youtube. Sitting in Staples, viewing it on the big screen, hearing his and Jim Fox’s voices cascade across the walls and the ice for the whole period, I was made supple. I was not prepared for the words I had already heard.

“This is for you, Kings fans.”

Any amount that the Los Angeles Kings having won the Stanley Cup had sunk in over the week quickly and violently evaporated. I did not tear up, like I had done several times each day since the Kings became Cup champions, I bawled. I sobbed, uncontrollably. The emotions overwhelming me to the point of severe ocular perspiration were buoyed by the obvious; pride, ecstasy, fulfillment.

As I cried, I found I was terrified. I didn’t understand it and I didn’t think about it more than to recognize it was there.

The rally began and I listened with raw eyes and a wet face as Bob Miller introduced the top staff and the team. Council people, Luc, Leiweke, Hextall spoke. I clapped for them. I roared for Darryl Sutter. I laughed at Matt Greene poking fun at Drew Doughty’s casual brevity and Dustin Penner’s playful jab at L.A.’s predominant race. I cheered that Jonathan Quick showed no inhibition in honoring with the profane the team that helped him realize his dream. I thoroughly enjoyed and ate up every second of the day as I had done the past two months.

And then it was over, and I was a shell.

I mentioned earlier that at one time I considered myself to be Buddhist. The hallmark principle of Buddhism, the one that attracted me to and also ultimately designed my failure in it is that our attachments to our desires cause suffering. Either we don’t get want we want and we suffer, or we get it and without exception lose it. And so we suffer.

Only the experience of such supreme happiness as I have relished this week can imbue such a terror of loss. Something that had been with me my whole life, a constant throughout my ever fluctuating existence is now gone. The Los Angeles Kings have won the Stanley Cup and never again will I want to see the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup before I die. I’ve seen it. As grand, as cathartic, as unquestionably ridiculous, orgasmically, transcendentally sublime it was, it begins a new part of my life. This is not a bad thing. It is a different thing. It is the agony of metamorphosis.

Three days ago I thought the term “long suffering Kings fan” need not apply anymore. Today I know that is not true. In that, I suppose I find the solace of constancy. As I suffered once for my love of this silly hockey team, I suffer for that love still.

As I grappled with this idea, I was forced to ask myself, have any of us truly suffered?

As I sat and meditated in front of the Gretzky statue prior to game six on Monday, I reflected on my life as a Kings fan. I remembered the moments that made me a Kings fan, the things that drew me to the game and the things that nourished me all these years. I only ever suffered when they lost because I rejoiced when they won. I stood in awe as a child outside the locker room and nervously asked that Luc Robitaille, the man whose shot dropped my jaw so many times, sign my jersey. I proudly displayed where Rick Tochett had penned my hat, because since he was such a badass and had signed my hat, I was kind of a badass too.

As a youth I regarded Kings as Titans, larger than life characters in a real storybook whose ending changed every time I read it. Later I grew to appreciate their humanity, their own struggles and triumphs and related to Palffy on the personal level of knowing we are both goofs, respecting the fearlessness that Norstrom and Deadmarsh employed that I never will, sharing the passion that Laperriere had for the game and admiring the sheer lack of vanity to which Kelly Buchberger’s helmet, let alone his face, was a clear testament. Having come to understand and appreciate the Kings that came and went as people, I then again came to revere them as something more than that, the expression of hopes and the dedication to dreams and the perseverance through pain that I can only wish all people embodied.

Dustin Brown is a Titan. Anze Kopitar, a Titan. Jonathan Quick and Willie Mitchell and Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter and Mike Richards are all the rest are Titans. Their hopes are mine. Their trials and tribulations, I feel. They’re accomplishments ours to savor and their Stanley Cup is ours to enjoy. Ours to be proud of and to hold dear.

Have I ever suffered as a Kings fan? I have gained many of my most precious memories in this seemingly vapid endeavor of sports fandom. This was true before the Cup was won. The Cup is simply the pinnacle. Not the final one sweet moment after endless eras of bitterness, but the nectar of the fruit finally tasted after soft skin punctured, tender, delicious flesh chewed and seeds spat out. It has not always been easy being a Kings fan, but I have never truly suffered for it, as I have only suffered when my love has swelled.

The question becomes, is this the exclamation point at the end of the sentence?

This team is the culmination of a lifetime, and by my numerical standard for that, two lifetimes for many of you. The subtle gathering of talents and passions, well rounded and specified and the undeniable spark of a fire from the striking of a perfectly tuned chord. Both in team and in fandom, the continuum has stretched as far as it can in both directions for those of us old enough to have ridden the wave. For us, now we tread charted waters.

We will still do so with glee and exuberance. We will still cheer loudly and bemoan indignantly. We will win another Cup and it too will be a glorious occasion, but nothing like we have now experienced. That was once in a lifetime. Now a new era begins. For us it begins with pride and goes forth with satisfaction. For the new generation of Kings fans, those still fostering their insane passions for this sport and this team and those yet to find their way to us, it begins with expectation. Those that come after us will not be like those who came before. We are the end of a generation my Kings brothers and sisters.

What was once a hope, a jealousy, a dream, has become reality. My beard is not the only thing I lost this week. Innocence, such as that has not known the irresistible flavor of ultimate victory, is shattered. And though life as a Kings fan will never be the same and the high achieved this year never replicated, I will follow down what path the Los Angeles Kings lead me, with more conviction than ever.

For I am a Kings fan. Regardless of what else I may have been or am yet to become, despite any amount of change my life presents to me, without distinction to class, title, wealth, location, age or beauty, I will always be, at my very least, at my very worst, and now, in this moment, at my very best, a Los Angeles Kings fan.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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25 replies

  1. How about this fucking article right here?

    • Here, here. This is the first thing I’ve read that actually describes the rollercoaster we’ve all been on the past few months. Have the Kings un-surlied Surly?

      “For I am a Kings fan. Regardless of what else I may have been or am yet to become, despite any amount of change my life presents to me, without distinction to class, title, wealth, location, age or beauty, I will always be, at my very least, at my very worst, and now, in this moment, at my very best, a Los Angeles Kings fan.”

      Worthy of a tattoo, that is.

    • @King of Redlands, classic!!
      Yeah great read Surly, the power of your pen is strong.

  2. Every time I think my emotions are exhausted this week, something like this makes my eyes well up again. This is beautiful.

  3. Surly: I bet this helped to get things off your chest, because, we all are brothers and sisters in the same boat to some degree, once you become a die-hard on stuff in life. This indeed is heavy profound, but also, equally buoyantly motivational.

    Gretzky Once Said: You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

    Evidently, in your life, you took many a shots, but most predominantly characteristically, becoming not a so-called “die hard” King fan, but rather actually a “never die” King fan. So, Wayne was right in his remarks, because you took 100% of the shots at that noble and lofty objective to be the best fan you could be, so that you won last Monday, this week, and forever now. Feelings and emotions happen for us humans, often at times without our control, but, will power and purposeful intention can take precedence and guide you on the journey of life, including your sincere commitment enrolled for life as a Kings fan.

    If I may, there is one side of the equation in your thesis here that could be further considered. And that is the fact that out on the ice it is a war. Competition with opponents, some of whom we really detest. In this whole process about being a Kings fan for all of these years is the competition that we want to beat, even if it is a single game at times. Sure, we all sought desperately for the Cup, yet, underneath it all, was this instinctive drive to vanquish the competition.

    One definite true concept that Jonathan gave us in his resonating speech yesterday, was that we can now beat Detroit (really the rest of the 29 teams now). I submit therefore to you, the war is not really over yet. A tremendously great battle victory was achieved and rewarded. New King soldiers will arrive. They deserve our fan support. So nevertheless the Kings again have to play Detroit, and oh, so many other adversaries, so that will be our motivation to become excited in due time. The hair on our backs will raise up as they did always before.

  4. A brilliant bit of writing…an honest and intense examination of your life as a King’s fan. Very insightful and at times a little painful to hear. I guess if there’s anything missing, it would be the absence of gratuitous cursing and vile descriptions of hideous sex acts. After all, that also is a part of who you are and ‘how you roll’. I’m guessing that a large amount of King’s fans, who have been cheering for the team for decades, also can relate to the feelings of emptiness and fear about what the future holds. Being a King’s fan will never be the same. As with all huge changes in our lives….births, deaths, graduations, retirement, etc., the way we embrace the unknown that awaits us says a great deal about who we are. The chants of “GO KINGS GO”, will never sound quite the same…we have finally experienced the magical feeling of winning the CUP for the first time, and we are all a little different for it. I know for me, the joy and relief winning the cup has brought me will serve as a constant reminder of the best few months I’ve had in a very long time, and the beauty of sharing it with my family.

  5. Your writing is amazing!
    GO Kings Go!

  6. In 1996, Trainspotting glorified heroin in the same way Kings did hockey. Glad I stuck with both.

  7. I think there should be a Reality Show on any frigging channel called “Summer With The Quick’s” OMG would I watch that shit every week. JQ with his daughter in different situations would be hilarious !

  8. I got chills reading this. I love this site! I missed the last part of the season and all of the playoffs. I was finally able to listen to games 5&6 on my phone. (I picked the worst time to join the military lol) I just want to thank you Guys for this site. I’ll never forget the game when I sat next to both of you and lost my voice as we shut out Dallas, I believe 4-0. Then to wake up and see you wrote about the chick that was with my group. I still get laughs from that btw lol. Keep up the great work. I can’t wait for next season, I will finally be done with training so I’ll be able to watch all the games.

  9. Loved this article. It will be very interesting to experience new, and yet the same, emotions when next season gets underway. I look forward to every bit of it. The love of the Kings shared here, the hissy-fights with JT, and of course the sticky messes from Tuan.

  10. Beautiful article!
    …but I do believe there is one more tear to be shed….we will be back at Staples in just a few weeks as we finally see what We dreamed and imagined. A Stanley Cup Champions banner finally being raised! A banner that will forever hang in the rafters.
    I have an 8 month son who was born on the eve of opening day. This is the new generation you speak of. In a few months/years I will begin to point in the direction of that banner and explain and narrate the story of the 2011-2012 Kings…these past months while watching hockey he has learned to sit, clap, smile, grunt in excitement and love the team. All this by simply hearing these 3 simple words from daddy….Go Kings Go!

  11. Great stuff.

    No matter what the future holds with this team…I will never forget the feeling when that buzzer sounded in game 6, and me walking to my Dad and giving him the biggest hug in the world saying, “They did it, Dad” …to wait for a moment for so many years and then actually live it is something indescribable.

    It’s a weird feeling to know you’re living the best day of your life when it’s happening.

    I appreciate your time to write this, Surly. I think it’s safe to say you’ve touched our hearts.

  12. I’ve had trouble explaining my feelings over the past week to my kids (early teens). My wife on the other hand knew that there was something deeper happening which I had trouble putting to words. As a family, the four of us experienced the trials and troubles over the past 10 months culminating in the most unbelievable last 8 weeks. Surly, my friend, as someone who could best be described as a “lurker”…..someone who wouldn’t miss a post or a podcast and loves to read both you and Bobby’s pain, frustration and joy, nut has yet to express his own thoughts, this post has moved me. You have encapsulated my thoughts and feelings perfectly. I too, while overtaken by excitement and glee, was at the same time feeling frightened for what the future holds. My biggest fear is wondering if the players that I love (and sometimes hate) feel as I do……Are they truly overjoyed? Are they now satisfied? I want more….do they? I guess time will tell, but for now I rest at night knowing that I have been able to spend the greatest week of my life with my family (as well as my fandom family). These are days to cherish. Surly, your words are true my friend. Thank you.

  13. So, if we dont resign Stoll, how about
    Kopi- Carter – Richards down the middle?
    Gagne-Carter-Toffoli (should he be ready)
    Penner-Richards-Iron Hands Lewis (said w/love)

  14. Over my lifetime with the Kings, I have had many highs and many lows. The near hit in 92/93, The bankruptcy after that, The move away from where I grew up watching my team the Forum and saw the miracle on Manchester. So many great players come and gone. The loss of Bailey and Mavis. Coaching, owner changes. Heck even LA gangs claiming the silver and black and not being allowed to wear Kings gear to school cause of that.

    I was kind of a closet Kings fan, not many of my friends shared my passion and love for the team. I was usually alone or trying to introduce people to the Kings. Nobody understood my love and passion. It was something my father and I shared.

    At the first game of the season, in 2003, not long after the birth of my first, vs the red wings, with some friends who are now as avid as I am about the Kings, I saw Dustin Brown take the ice, he looked smaller to me back then. He delivered some hits and didn’t back off from anything, I was impressed. It stuck with me.

    The following year was the worst winter of my life, and the second best.the Lockout an the birth of my second son. The next following years, there were no playoffs. My third son was born and the Kings were still not playoff contenders. 2008 Dustin was named captain, things started to look up for me, good changes were made. Then in 2009 back to the playoffs! But my mood started to go up and down with wins and losses. Always proud of my team.

    Now that we have won. My family (wife and three boys) sat watching and cheering at home.
    Whats next.

    I am used to a month or more from the end of the season, until trades, awards and the draft come up. But they are here. And I am still waiting for my Champ gear to arrive.

    I now have bragging rights, my kids all learned a lot from this year alone. With hard work and dedication; the struggles and negativity can be overcome.

    I cannot even put together a coherent story. There are too many memories to handle, its still unreal. As you can see I am not ready to get this all down. Not in a short manner anyways.

  15. I’m still in the dream.

    But I’m worried. Now I’m the fan of a WINNER. It’s a strange sensation.

    In a town with the Lakers and the Dodgers I had to be a hockey fan.

    I don’t know how to orient myself. I need Dramamine . . . or maybe Thorazine.


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