On Monday night, the Kings won the Stanley Cup, their first ever. They’ve heard about the Stanley Cup, seen glimpses of it here and there. In 1993, they actually were three victories away from obtaining it before collapsing against Montreal. But after Game 6 against the New Jersey Devils, they were brandishing it like pirates of the Caribbean.
That may be an image the hockey world might have to get used to.
It’s absurdly early to predict what the future will hold for an NHL team. The Kings, seeded eighth in the West, defeated the first, second and third seeds to get to the Stanley Cup finals, testament to how foolhardy it is to handicap this sport (Detroit was the last team to win back-to-back titles in 1997 and 1998). A hot goaltender here, a timely trade there, perhaps a coaching change — all, incidentally, factors in the Kings’ run — and an also-ran can become the leader.
But it’s impossible not to look at the Kings’ situation and see prosperity ahead, maybe even the “D” word — dynasty — or at least the potential for it.
“We feel we’re set up for a while,” said Kings president Luc Robitaille, a member of that ’93 club and a Hall of Famer. “Our best players are all our youngest guys.”
Kings capture first Stanley Cup
“We’re going to enjoy this,” he said, “and next week we’ll start worrying about next year. But it’s amazing.”
Barry Melrose was standing nearby. He coached the team in ’93 when it lost, 4-1, to the Canadiens, a series made infamous by the Marty McSorley stick incident: it had too much curve, and as a result, the Kings went off the road.
He’s been an unabashed fan of these Kings, and gushed about their future.
“All their young guys are in the prime of their lives,” he said as he prepared to interview goaltender Jonathan Quick, one of the team’s young stars and maybe its most important. Quick won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs.
“They’re big, physical, and they’ll definitely be here for a while.”
Start with Quick. He’s only 26, and yet he dominated in these playoffs. He allowed only 29 goals in 20 playoff games during this run, and stopped 125 of 132 shots in the finals. The Devils know what a superstar goaltender means to a franchise — in their case, three Stanley Cups with Quick's idol, Martin Brodeur, in net — so the Kings have the centerpiece of future riches.
“I don’t know if I can put it into words,” said center Anze Kopitar, when asked to describe Quick’s performances in these playoffs. “You can go ahead and look at the stats. He was just awesome for us.”
During the post-game championship celebration in their lockerroom, while they were opening and spraying champagne, I swear I saw some of them getting carded by the cops.
And then there are some geezers clogging up the roster. Justin Williams will be 31 next season. Dustin Penner turns 30 in the fall. Simon Gagne is 32. They’re still highly effective. They just need a little longer on the massage table after games.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Rask credits a team effort on defense
Without the need for an overtime period, the Bruins won Game 3 over the Blackhawks, 2-0. Bruins coach Claude Julien credits Tuukka Rask for his preparation and extreme focus, while Rask appreciates the guys in front of him covering their ice and blocking shots.
Check out photos from the Kings' Stanley Cup victory parade in LA.
Stanley Cup playoffs
Check out photos from the NHL postseason action.
Stanley Cup winners
A look at the teams that have earned the right to hoist Lord Stanley's prize since 1965.
Some of Hollywood's hottest celebrities take in NHL games.
Check out the ice girls from around the National Hockey League.