Fans Appreciate LA Kings Winning The Stanley Cup More The Second Time Around
June 21, 2014 14 Comments
2014 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONSHIP WRAP-UP: Part 4 of Frozen Royalty’s wrap-up of the Los Angeles Kings winning the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship and the ensuing celebration.
LOS ANGELES — Looking back to the Los Angeles Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup Championship parade in Downtown Los Angeles, as it was in 2012, fans came from miles and miles around, even though the majority were from the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
As yours truly walked Figueroa Street and Chick Hearn Court (between Staples Center and L.A. Live) prior to the start of the parade, I spoke with some of the more than 300,000 fans in attendance. Some had made the trip from surrounding counties, including Orange, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Bernadino, Riverside, Kern, Imperial and San Diego counties. One family came from as far as New Mexico.
Mike Bouffard 53, brought his family from Santa Margarita in Orange County.
Bouffard was one of so many who became hooked on hockey after watching the United States defeat Russia in the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, New York—the Miracle On Ice.
“Once they won the gold medal [after defeating Finland in their next game], we found out there was a team in L.A., and we started going to games,” said Bouffard. “We’ve been hooked ever since. It’s like I tell all my friends—most of them are basketball and football people—it’s most exciting game there is. It’s edge-of-your-seat all the time.”
Living in Orange County, Bouffard and his family could have easily switched allegiances and become fans of what was then the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (now the Anaheim Ducks). But that was never a consideration.
“We had partial season tickets all those years, driving from Orange County,” Bouffard noted. “When the Ducks came in 1993, we’d still prefer to make the drive to L.A., rather than 20 minutes up the road, to watch our team.”
Bouffard’s children are also Kings fans, and one of his daughters brought a new fan into the fold this past season.
The team’s chemistry was something that Mogelnicki noticed right away.
“I never had a team [before], and just the players’ chemistry together really caught my eye,” he said. “They’re not selfish players. They pick each other up when they make a mistake. They just have great chemistry that’s not seen in other teams.”
Another Orange County family was not too far up the street from Bouffard’s. This one missed the 2012 Cup win and celebration while on a trip to Europe and they were not going to miss this one.
“I missed the whole thing,” said John Badua, 45, of Buena Park, California, a Kings fan since 1978. “I was following on Twitter when I heard they won. It was 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, and we were yelling and screaming in the hotel room.”
“Diane (his wife) was at a PTA meeting, and my son, Elijah, couldn’t stand the excitement,” Badua explained. “He was in and out of the room, playing Xbox, but my daughter, Sierra, and I were watching, and when they finally scored, we jumped up and screamed louder than the neighbors because they were watching it, too. We could hear them. We were texting my wife play-by-play, too. It was crazy.”
For long-time fans, seeing the Kings reach the highest level of hockey twice in three seasons is gratifying, to say the least.
“They were not that great for a lot of years,” said Bouffard. “We sat through a lot of lean years. They used to joke about the Forum, that there would be 10,000 people there. 5,000 Kings fans and their dates. But now, you can’t get a ticket. They’re hard to get. There’s a great group of guys on this team and a great group of fans.”
“This is the golden time of Kings hockey, for sure,” Badua noted. “Throughout all the years of not making the playoffs, getting good draft picks only to watch them go and develop somewhere else, to finally get a team that really clicks and is exciting to watch—it’s been great as a long time Kings fan.”
“In years past, we always traded a lot of [young prospects and first round draft picks],” Badua added. “We never developed them. We always tried to do it with seasoned vets instead of building from the inside out, which seems to be working for us. Instead of being the ‘Cakewalk of California,’ it’s been nice to see teams come in here and play us hard.”
Lee, 65, has been a fan since the very first days of the franchise in 1967, giving him good reasons to puff his chest out a bit more than most.
“I’d go to the Forum and there would be, maybe, 10,000 people there,” he recalled. “We always had a small following of fans, but not the interest that the Lakers, or the [long-defunct] Rams, or the Dodgers had. But I’m so happy to see them win. When they won in 2012, that was great, too.”
Like so many long-time Kings fans, Lee was forced to endure decades of mostly lousy hockey from his beloved Kings. But his faith and loyalty never wavered.
“When I’m a fan of a team, especially a local team, I stay forever,” he said. “I was a Los Angeles Rams fan and I’m still a Los Angeles Rams fan, so I hope they come back.”
“When you’re a fan of a team, stick with them,” he added. “You stay with them through thick and thin, and there was a lot of thin, a lot of disappointing seasons, but this makes up for everything.”
But now, the Kings appear to be set-up to contend for Stanley Cup Championships for at least the next season or two…or three.
“When Jack Kent Cooke owned the team, he didn’t want to pay anybody, so he’d get bad players, guys who needed to be in the minor leagues, and they were playing for the Kings,” Lee lamented. “But this team, they’re good, and the plan is for the long-term. They have guys in the minors who are ready to play.”
“The way this team has been built over the last seven years, it’s the blueprint for how to do it,” said Bouffard. “The core group of guys is together and they play well together. It’s a very nice change from before.”
As reported earlier, fans from at least ten counties, one family from New Mexico, and who knows where else, made the trip to Downtown Los Angeles for the parade. But one couple is the unofficial winner of the award for the fans who traveled the greatest distance in order to attend. You can read their story in the next installment of this series.
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