LA Kings host night with players; Lord Stanley’s Cup
On Saturday night LA Kings fans were nothing but smiles at Staples Center regardless of their residual frustration with the recently ended NHL lockout.
As the CBA was being ratified, Kings players sat and signed autographs for long lines of eager season ticket holders. Fans were elated as, for the first time since the Kings won the Stanley Cup, the team and Lord Stanley’s Cup were once again in the building to be admired and praised.
I happened upon a pair of tickets to the event last minute and decided to check it out. Not one for autographs, I simply went as an observer and a fan of the game. I brought along a friend who, while not a hockey fan, is always eager to learn and has been a good sport for many years, sitting through SPHL and NHL games alike at my request. But I digress.
As we arrived, we walked into the arena and gazed out over the scene in front of us. The 49ers/Packers game was being played on the scoreboard over center ice and every now and again a player looked up from his autograph table to check the score. Fans sat in sections all around staring up at the game once they were content they had gotten all of the autographs they could stand to wait in line for.
Bailey, the Kings mascot was up to his normal antics on the ice, posing for pictures and “sharing” nachos with a fan at one point. But the real highlight was simply the pride oozing from every fan in the building.
The Kings organization provided food vouchers for a drink and a hot dog as fans arrived, handed to them by one of the smiling and friendly Kings ice girls who were also handing out maps of the arena to fans wanting to know where to find their favorite player.
I took a seat just in front of and to the right of where Kevin Westgarth was signing autographs and simply watched as he interacted with fans dressed head to toe in Kings apparel. Like the rest of the players he seemed happy to meet his fans and smiled genuinely for what had to ultimately be hundreds of photo ops. One fan had a Kings leather jacket on, studded with rhinestones declaring “Champions” across the front with an equally shiny Kings logo on the back.
Everyone seemed to be carrying bags of merchandise that were either freshly autographed or would be shortly. It seemed as though the lockout had never happened, and even as the announcement came over the PA system that the CBA had been ratified as we sat in the midst of the Stanley Cup Champs, it was met with few cheers – a formality at this point.
What I was interested in was an elevator ride away, and as soon as the announcement was made that the Stanley Cup was in the house, I headed to check it out. In the past 24 months, I have seen the Cup four times, but this time was different as it was sitting for viewing in the dressing room of the team who had earned it and brought it home to their city.
I took my friend with me and got on the elevator going down with a couple of Kings fans who were nothing but ecstatic to get up close and personal with “their cup.” They commented on how they have been waiting their whole lives for this moment. My friend realized at that point how incredible this experience was for a diehard fan, and even she entered the dressing room with a sort of quiet reverence for the moment.
We posed for a quick picture with the Stanley Cup before checking out the rest of the dressing room and headed back upstairs to watch the end of the football game.
Each fan in Staples Center that night was proof that while the lockout was an unpleasant occurrence, the fans will be back to fill arenas across North America when the pucks start to drop on Jan. 19th.