LA Kings – 2012 Stanley Cup Champions
Since the NHL expanded the league in the 1967-68 season with six new teams, there has been ice hockey in Los Angeles. But it has taken until 2012 for the franchise to bring the Stanley Cup to the west coast. And the team that triumphed this past season was the one that delivered probably the most unlikely victory in hockey history.
Even ‘The Great One’ himself, Wayne Gretzky, could not bring the cup to LA. The closest he came was a losing final in the 1993 season. The Kings had made the playoffs in twenty five previous seasons, managing to get to the Conference finals on four occasions, but winning only once. Their regular season record is nothing to brag about. They had only once managed to come top of their division, 22 years ago, and then they were sent packing in the second round of the playoffs by the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers were most teams boogeymen back then. In the space of eight seasons they beat LA in the playoffs five times.
But even Kings fans would rather those days than the ones they have had to endure recently. Over the past ten seasons they played only three games in the playoffs, losing every one. So suffices to say, when they made the playoffs in 8th place in the Western Conference (13th best record overall), they were not expected to do much. Being seeded eighth meant they would play the top seed first, and even if they overcame that hurdle, would have to play the highest seeded team every round. No team seeded eighth has ever won the Stanley Cup; in fact the lowest seed to ever lift the trophy was fifth, and that happened only once.
So even when the Kings started to rapidly scale this improbable mountain, each round more impressive than the last, when they came to the finals facing a New Jersey Devils team that had just overcome the top seeded New York Rangers, they were expected to finally be shown up for their perceived limitations. But if anything they improved. Winning the first two games on the road, both in overtime, the Kings were continuing to turn the tables on those above them. Goaltender Jonathan Quick took home the honour of Playoff MVP for his contribution of letting in, on average, only over one goal a game in the finals. The Devils couldn’t get a run together; it took everything they had to win two games in the series. It was a better achievement than others had managed against the Kings, but it wasn’t enough.
In become champions for the first time, LA ripped up the history books, not only were they the first 8th seed to go all the way in ice hockey, they were the first 8th seed to go all the way in any American sport. It may not be an achievement we see again for a long time. It should be interesting to see if the Kings can regain the trophy next season, something that has not happened since 1998, or even if they can make the playoffs at all.
By Garry Irwin
Posted by Robert McNamara, Sports Editor on at 5:53 pm.
Got an opinion on this article? Leave it below.