The LA Kings have finally become the 2012 Stanley Cup champions. The Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils a 6-1 at home in Game 6 to bring the Cup to Los Angeles for the first time.
The team erases 19 years of painful memories of the franchise’s last trip to the finals in 1993 when the Wayne Gretzky-led Kings fell to the Montreal Canadiens, writes The Guardian.
“It’s a hockey town now!” said Kate Byrne Haltom, who has long been a hockey fan but didn’t have much company in Southern California.
One more Kings fan Andrew Gonzales, 21, burst into tears and screams in the streets as he reveled with friends on Figueroa Street outside Staples on a night he thought might never come.
“It’s been 14 years I’ve been a fan, I started when I was 6, I’ve been to over 200 games,” said Gonzales. “It’s the happiest day of my life. I could die. Yeeaaah!”
After failing to become champions in the previous two games of the series, the Kings settled any nerves with three first period goals while Steve Bernier was serving a game-misconduct penalty for a hit that left Rob Scuderi with blood pouring from his mouth, reports The Vancouver Sun.
“It’s a little hectic right now, I’m getting pulled all over the place but this is pretty amazing,” said Kings forward Mike Richards. “You don’t know how it’s going to feel until you actually do it.”
Captain Dustin Brown opened the scoring with a deft redirection and he bookended the celebration by taking the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and lifting to the joy of the Staples Center crowd, The Los Angeles Times says.
“Heavier than I thought,” revealed Brown, who also had two assists. “Knocking knees. There’s no words to describe, lifting that thing.”
He went on: “It’s one of those things you dream all your life for as a player. The city of Los Angeles has been dreaming of this for 45 years. There were about 20 million dreams coming true tonight.”
Los Angeles wasted no time making the Devils pay for the Bernier penalty with Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis all scoring in a span of less than four minutes to leave New Jersey in a 3-0 hole.
After the game was over, Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who won the title of Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the most valuable player on the playoffs, tossed his gloves and stick into air as his team mates poured onto the ice.
“The guys did an unbelievable job,” said Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who took over behind the bench midway through the season after the team’s slow start.
So, Willie Mitchell had to step up. Brown handed the Cup first to the veteran defenseman, the 35-year-old thirsting for his first Cup. Mitchell’s career had been in doubt as well as two years ago when he was struggling from post-concussion symptoms.
“I don’t know, I was in shock,” Mitchell said. “I was thinking about my family, my wife and my friends — and how they supported me on this journey.”
He continued: “To be honest, I was looking up for them and showing it off because I knew where they were sitting, and then I forgot to kiss the thing. So get that thing back here somehow because everyone else is kissing it and I forgot.”