Kings, the Stanley Cup Champs, Are LA's New Sweethearts

Steven Slivka@@StevenSlivkaCorrespondent IIIJune 18, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14:  (L-R) Jeff Carter #77, Anze Kopitar #11, Kevin Westgarth #19, captain Dustin Brown #23, Colin Fraser #24, Mike Richards #10, Brad Richardson #15, Jonathan Quick #32, Dustin Penner #25 Alec Martinez #27 and Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings stand with the Stanley Cup during the rally in Staples Center after the Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Victory Parade on June 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

For the first time in 45 years, the Los Angeles Kings reign supreme in a city that is known for bleeding Laker Gold and Dodger Blue.

By winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, the Kings took the City of Angels by storm, as for the first time ever, celebrities made their way to Staples Center to watch a championship game on the ice instead of the hardwood.

The Lakers fizzled out of the playoffs for the second year in a row and the Clippers, despite the hype surrounding them during the regular season, disappointed just as much after being swept in the second round of the postseason.

Staples Center quickly went from catering to three postseason teams to just one.

Unlike their inner-city brethren, the Kings didn't disappoint and are now the team people in Hollywood can't get enough of, and with good reason.

After losing games 81 and 82 of the regular season to their in-state rivals, the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles found itself as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference heading into the postseason.

The President's Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks awaited the Kings in the first round and not a soul in the world (with the exception of some Kings fans) expected L.A. to escape.

But the Kings stunned the hockey world by knocking out the top-seeded Canucks in five games.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14:  Los Angeles Kings team members Anze Kopitar #11 and Dustin Brown #23 hold the Stanley Cup to cheering fans during the Stanley Cup victory parade on June 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings are celebrating their first
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Then it was on to St. Louis.

L.A. made even lighter work of the No. 2-seeded Blues, sweeping them and improving to a perfect 5-0 on the road during the playoffs.

Overpowering hockey of this caliber had never been executed by a No. 8 seed before.

As the Kings prepared to make the trip to Phoenix for the Western Conference Finals, hockey fans around the world knew they were witnessing something special.

For the third consecutive series, the Kings quickly got their opponents to the brink of elimination, and after their Game 5 clincher against the Coyotes, the Kings advanced to their first Stanley Cup Finals since 1993.

There was no Melrose Mullet, no great one; just a bunch of scrappy guys playing like the best team in the NHL.

The Kings' complete domination in the postseason up until this point was at a level NHL fans were not accustomed to seeing from any team, let alone a No. 8 seed.

All that stood in the way of L.A. and its first Stanley Cup was the New Jersey Devils, led by arguably the greatest goaltender of all-time, Martin Brodeur.

After L.A.'s Anze Kopitar's game-winning breakaway goal in overtime of Game 1, the hockey buzz in L.A. had reached its highest point of excitement in 20 years.

Game 2. The Kings won a second straight overtime game behind Jeff Carter's stick-side wrister.

After winning Game 3, 4-0, and coming within one game of the Stanley Cup, "Kings Fever" was poised to climax in Los Angeles.

Never had L.A., a city where hockey always took a backseat to baseball, basketball and even football, been as excited about the Kings as they had at this point in time.

The feeling was surreal. The Kings played like men among boys.

In Game 6, L.A. felt the pressure of ending the series at home after losing the last two games. After opening up a 4-0 lead in the second period, the rowdiness inside the Staples Center could be heard from the Vegas sports books, where the Kings were complete nobodies when betting lines opened for the Stanley Cup Finals two months before.

After their 6-1 victory to take the most coveted trophy in professional sports, the Kings dominated L.A. in every sense of the word.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11:  Goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with teamamtes after defeating the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Th
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Led by their scrappy, young captain Dustin Brown and their outstanding goalie, Jonathan Quick, who held them afloat the entire season, the Kings went from playoff spot-fillers to NHL champions.

Quick, who had been the anchor to the shaky L.A. ship this season, played like the best goalie in the league and rightfully took home the Conn Smythe Trophy to go along with the Stanley Cup.

Brown and Kopitar quickly became stars in the NHL after both finished their remarkable postseason runs with 20 points apiece.

It's been exactly one week since the Kings won the Stanley Cup and the hype will live on until next season begins.

With a healthy mixture of veterans and young guns holding their team together and a rejuvenated city cheering them on every inch of the way, the Los Angeles Kings will be a serious force in the NHL for many years to come.

It used to be all about Kobe. Now it's all about Kopi, Brownie and Quicky.

The time is now for the Kings and with the entire city behind their backs, it won't be long until they hold their next parade down Figueroa Street.


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