Skip to main content

Underdog L.A. Kings on brink of first Stanley Cup in 44-year history

By Michael Martinez, David Youmans and Paul Vercammen, CNN
updated 10:37 PM EDT, Wed June 6, 2012
The Los Angeles Kings have a shot at their first Stanley Cup in the franchise's 44-year history.
The Los Angeles Kings have a shot at their first Stanley Cup in the franchise's 44-year history.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: L.A. Kings and New Jersey Devils are tied 0-0 after two periods
  • Kings are having a Cinderella run in the playoffs
  • They are up 3-0 in championship finals going into Wednesday's game against New Jersey
  • The hockey team entered the postseason as the lowest seed in their conference

Los Angeles (CNN) -- After two nail-biting periods, the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings remained tied 0-0 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday.

New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur and Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick seemingly put up walls in front of their nets in a defensive struggle.

Among the celebrities in attendance were longtime Kings fans Matthew Perry and Alyssa Milano, along with Will Ferrell, who made a raucous video cheering the Kings that went viral throughout now-hockey-crazy Los Angeles.

Kings fans, most dressed in their home team's black, roared throughout the contest and chanted "MVP" each time Quick stopped a serious scoring chance by the Devils.

From the start, the Los Angeles Kings seemed doomed to be underdogs.

They are a hockey team in a land without snow or even ice. They couldn't even find a puck for their first practice in 1967.

Not even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, could bring the team a Stanley Cup. And to marginalize them further, the Kings had to compete for fans against other local teams, some legendary: the Lakers, the Dodgers, the Angels and the Clippers.

But the Kings are positioned to win their first Stanley Cup in the franchise's 44-year history, and they could do it in grand fashion by sweeping the Devils in game 4 of the best-of-seven championship series.

The Kings have been having a Cinderella run, entering the playoffs as the lowest seed in their conference. But they have been nearly unbeatable, with a 15-2 playoff record.

In his 39th season as the announcer for Kings games, Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Miller said the anticipation was unbearable.

"It is emotional for me, and I'm wondering what it's gonna be like when it actually happens and I see (team captain) Dustin Brown lift that Stanley Cup, because there were years that a lot of us in the organization felt, 'will we ever see this?' " Miller said.

At their first practice in 1967, after the league awarded a franchise to Los Angeles, the team's pucks were "stored under boxes and equipment, and they had no puck," Miller said.

Making sense of the L.A. Kings

A Hollywood producer borrowed a puck that had been a gift from the Montreal Canadiens and gave it to the team, Miller said.

"They've come a long way since the days of one puck, that's for sure," Miller said.

The Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, home of the Kings, is seeing a run on team apparel. It's an unlikely scenario because the arena usually sports the colors and merchandise of the Lakers and Clippers, the NBA teams that both call it home.

"I'm so fired up right now that I got up this morning, put shoes on and came down here to get this jersey. I had a T-shirt. I said, 'I need a jersey to keep me for real, be there for them. Let's be there when they end it!' " fan Vincent "Butch" Frankel said. "That's gonna be Wednesday night! Kings goin' to go all the way!"

Inside the stadium, fans were anxious.

"I've been a Kings fan for 40 years and had a season's seat for 25 years," said Cheryl Baggs, holding a plastic cup of white wine. "I've waited a long time for this, so it's chardonnay now, and I hope it's champagne later."

Grabbing a beer at a concession stand, Daniel Medina said he was glad to see the Kings as the successful ones this time of year now that the Lakers and Clippers have been eliminated from the playoffs.

"It's just great to see the focus on the Kings now instead of those other teams," Medina said.

Two other fans drove in from Las Vegas, five hours away.

"They underachieved all season, and so I think that now they are actually living up to their potential and showing everybody that they really were the team to beat," said Emily Kolbus, who was joined by her friend, Kaleigh.

Kings have found a way to be better

Actor and rapper LL Cool J, more of a basketball fanatic, has even caught the fever, he said.

"Normally during this time of year, I'm watching the NBA playoffs, but a friend of mine invited me to the hockey game, and I decided to take him up on his offer, and I gotta tell you, it did not disappoint," he said. "You know, the hockey games live, the hockey match live, is some serious business. It's serious. It's great."

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT