The Ducks are the champions of the hockey world. As a long time Kings fan it pains me to mention those words, but the Ducks deserve it. They were clearly the best team in the NHL. They played a high intensity grinding style of hockey that reminded me of my youth. When toughness was the name of the game and perseverance was key. The Ducks did that and more.
For long suffering Kings fans my words may not assuage the anguish felt by die-hard fans. Nevertheless, it will pass. I would like to point to a post recently put on the Lets Go Kings fan website as necessary reading for the despondent members of the Kings nation.
...And countless LGKers follow him over the edge in some sort of pied piper moment of mass ritual self-pity, I'm not following and I hope LGKers don't also.
First: Congratulations to the Ducks. The won the Cup fair and square, with the best team the league has seen in quite some time, and I still think they never played up to their full potential. Nice job. They earned it.
Second: Yes, this stings. It hurts. It is quite painful to watch this. It's frustrating, painful, hurtful, last night was definitely "Black Wednesday" to the honest, loyal King fans that have hung around through it all. Me, for 25-odd years now.
Third, and perhaps most importantly: This is an excellent thing for SoCal hockey. You can take the lumps and embrace the future or you can whine and complain that that Kings weren't "first." Yeah, maybe it sucks the Kings weren't first, but how is that really going to affect the way you feel when the Kings do win their first? Something tells me you won't be crying about not being first on that day.
Hockey is a business. When there are multiple business in the same place and one attains great success, the other must follow suit to remain in business. Ducks CFO Tim Ryan (I think that's his name) demonstrated tremendous class and respect last night when he was asked about the importance of this Cup win for SoCal hockey. He said: "This is great for the Ducks, it's great for the Los Angeles Kings, and great for hockey in Southern California."
He's right. Period.
The Kings (hopefully) have the right leadership in place, a stable of excellent young talent, and quite possibly the greatest motivation of all 35 miles down the street. The Kings are at the bottom, beginning an up-swing, and will be in this happy place in a few seasons. I still have hope. I have never been more proud to be a Kings fan than today...oddly enough.
I guess I'm proud because I never left them for the new team in town. I'm proud because I recieved a call last night from a buddy who was a Ducks season ticket holder, "quit" the Ducks when Kariya & Selanne left, hasn't been a Ducks fan since...but yet somehow was as excited a little school girl last night. He was hardly legible on the phone. He sounded like ...hell, I don't even know how to explain it. I'm proud because I'm not him and never will be. Why? Because I've never quit the Kings!!!
So, go jump off the cliff if you choose to. Go into a hole of self pity and whine about everything you can come up with from last nights Cup win for the Ducks. Or man up, take your lumps, and be thankful and optimistic for the very bright future the Kings have in front of them. Look at it this way, the Ducks are returning the favor. If not for Gretzky & the Kings in the first place, the Ducks wouldn't exist. We made them, now they are forcing our hand. Win or become forgotten. Win or become the Clippers.
I am not a Ducks fan. Never have been, never will be. This hurts me as much as the next Kings die hard fan. Believe me. But I recognize what it means. I recognize the enormous motivation for success this means for the Kings. This will be a good thing.
It hurts now. It won't later. And if you're so wrapped up in the fact that the Kings weren't "first", then that's your shortcoming. That is an insignificant piece of worthless barroom trivia. The kind you win a bottle of scotch on.
Congratulations Ducks. Nice win. That's the last time I say it.
I've been waiting nearly 25 years myself. So, all I can add is that patience is a virtue.
Photo Link: Ticket News: