I suppose you’ve noticed that content on this site has been lacking this season. It’s been a long time since I’ve written a real article. There is a good reason for that.
This article is that reason, both in its point and its conception. You see, I have been writing this article, quite literally, throughout the entire season.
My life as a Los Angeles Kings fan has been an evolution. The question with evolution becomes, does it have an end, or perhaps more clearly stated, a pinnacle?
If there is such a thing as a pinnacle to one’s evolution as a Kings fan, it would quite clearly have occurred on June 11, 2012 when we won the Stanley Cup. At that moment, the adult fan I am, the one who contemplates breakouts and neutral zone play, pressure along the boards and the minutiae of skating strides collided with, as hydrogen atoms igniting a nuclear explosion, the child hockey fan in me, the one who merely gawked with hanging tongue at this wondrous sport of hockey. What you are about to read is the result of my nearly year long sifting through the shattered debris.
As you will learn, I’m still sifting.
Since the moment Dustin Brown hoisted the Stanley Cup above his head, I have no longer been the Los Angeles Kings fan that I had always been – misbegotten, downtrodden, ever hopeful and pridefully self-pitying. I spent nearly 25 years, far fewer than many, striving towards an ideal that only existed in the kind of fevered dreams that compel people to confess to men of cloth, or in my Jewish case, whoever will listen in line at the Shabbat buffet. That Kings fan, the one who felt compelled to start a blog to satisfy the desire to talk about the Kings nonstop when not enough people at work listened or cared, the one you’ve come to know over these past few years on this site, that Kings fan, was executed.
I knew it the moment it happened. For all the indescribable joy that coursed through me on June 16, 2012, as I smiled, screamed, sobbed and locked away in memory the sights and sounds of the Kings parading over the same ice on which I had seen them falter so often, now erect and triumphant with a beacon of silver success gleaming above them, I was and have been plagued by another counter-intuitive emotion which I can’t rightly compartmentalize. It dances between despair and apathy, cascades down halls of antipathy and indignantly stares its fulfillment head on with supplication.
What once I cherished so much and spent so much time dreaming would one day happen has happened. And now that the immaterial has become reality, I am satiated in such a way that disregards previous desires for the reconciliation of dreams barely dared dreamt.
I spent last summer without really knowing what the hell was going on. The draft came and went without barely a glance. Free Agency news that filled my news feed phased me no more than status updates of what my friend’s ate for breakfast. I didn’t fully begin to recognize what this new hockey fan I had become was until the 2013 lockout became official and opening night was delayed.
What once was assured to be a catalyst of outrage was instead a respite. Peacefulness gave way to disinterest. The months went by and I missed hockey, but I didn’t need to miss it. Finally the season began and what I thought was the appropriate level of excitement came flooding back to me. I still went to every game I could make. I still cheered until my throat, and sometimes my back (seriously, what the fuck is that about) cried out in pain, or in the case of my throat, hoarsely groaned.
But I could not help but appreciate that I was watching the games differently. While I was more than the gawking child, I was less than the voracious cataloguer. I was somewhere in-between, somewhere more balanced.
And so I have spent this Kings season in the fog of unknown territory. Comparing every moment to those I remember from the sweetest sixteen wins can offer. At once each goal the Kings score is as exciting as it ever was, but less than what I know they can be. Simultaneously each goal they allow and each game they lose is a disappointment only up to the point where the reflex of memorialized elation intercedes and tempers emotions that used to sour hours and days of my life. Whether I feel less towards each game from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer as a matter of apathy, contentment or blissful bewilderment is a mystery. Put succinctly, whether I have a good or a bad day is no longer tied to the outcome of the previous day’s game.
With this in mind, how could things such as line changes, call ups, what is or is not said in scrums or pressers hold nearly as much interest as they once did? What had been the material on which this blog and myself thrived in basing its content has become trivial.
So does this mean I enjoy the game less? Has my affection for the Kings diminished? Absolutely not. In much the same way passionate love and the making of it becomes more meditative and fulfilling with experience, so do the experience a Cup win has brought me a sounder appreciation of the game. While this comes with the caveat of knowing anticipation will never be relished as it was the first go around, it excuses the refinement of comfort.
My enjoyment is at once more focused and more innocent. In this way, as a Kings fan, I have come full circle. From that child who attended the Great Western Forum each time with marked fascination, to the teenager who tracked stats and the development of prospects, to the omnivore adult, consuming all the sport had to offer, caught helplessly in the thralls of the thrills, here I remain, that innocent child again, happy and content to merely smile in wonderment and glee at the sport I love.
You always hear old fucks say “If only I could be young again knowing what I know now.” Well that is exactly what I am. Refreshed anew as a Kings fan with the retainer of all the years have taught me.
I must apologize for the adverse affect that this has had on Surly & Scribe’s LA Kings News. Endless bantering and picking apart minutiae is anathema to the more relaxed osmosis by which I now am a fan.
But that is about to change once more. Evolution never rests and a new phase begins, one that will elicit another adage old fucks like to spout, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
We enter now what was not the previous four months; the playoffs.
All I have just said, all that has rung truest in my addled mind, becomes null at 5pm on Tuesday. The quest begins again and the uncertainty and exhilaration of the playoffs, unencumbered by the triviality of points and of tie-breakers and trades and cap space and draft picks takes hold of us in its asphyxiating grip. We shall not be released until we lift Lord Stanley’s Cup once more, or sink a white, wooden tee into fresh grass and swing onto the first fairway of summer.
With ambivalent awe I have enjoyed the first season the Los Angeles Kings played as reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Now, with renewed fervor and salivation I idle in anticipation of the chance to regain the honor. The fan I once was is wilting in the grass. The fan I intend to be is drifting through the wind.
It’s the Stanley Cup playoffs, and I brace to defend myself as the fan that I am.
Categories: L.A. Kings News