COMMENTARY: With the Los Angeles Kings playing in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, something Kings fans have only seen their team do once before in the franchise’s nearly 45-year history, it is astonishing to see media based in the Eastern Time Zone only now taking notice of the Kings, most notably, the exceptional talent of center Anze Kopitar. Why only now? Will the Kings ever get themselves out from that dark shadow known as obscurity?
LOS ANGELES — If it was not already crystal-clear well before the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs began, the Los Angeles Kings advancing to the Stanley Cup Final this season has vividly demonstrated how much the media in the East, and much of Canada, ignores teams in the West and Southwest, especially the Kings.
To be sure, many of the same reasons that the Kings were ignored for so many years after they entered the National Hockey League in 1967, the league’s first expansion from its Original Six teams, still exist today, most notably, that by the time the Kings hit the ice to start a home game at Staples Center, most of those who might watch in the Eastern Time Zone are either asleep, or about to go to bed.
Even with the World Wide Web making highlights and entire games available to watch at later times, there is also the interest factor. After all, once a game has been played, with highlights and scores so readily available at one’s fingertips, many either are not interested in watching recorded games, or do not feel the need to do so.
Especially during the first 15 years or so of the Kings existence, they played in almost total obscurity, with 15 games or less televised locally—no one outside of the Los Angeles area really got to see the Kings play back then.
Today, even with cable and satellite television, the Internet, smartphones and the like, with all technology available today, it seems that very little has changed since the early days, as it is quite obvious that fans and media alike across the United States and Canada have not seen much of the Kings, if at all.
All one has to do to realize that is to look at the attention that star center Anze Kopitar is getting now that the Kings are playing in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, and with him scoring the overtime game-winner on a gorgeous breakaway in Game 1 on May 30.
The next day, we saw one story after another from Eastern time zone hockey writers that raved and gushed about Kopitar, what a great player he is, and that he is making a name for himself as one of the top centers in the league.
Fact is, Kopitar has been doing that for the past two or three seasons. They’ve just ignored him.
Although one could reasonably argue that Kopitar’s inconsistency before Darryl Sutter took over the Kings head coaching duties has kept him under the radar, realistically speaking, that would not be the biggest factor.
Fact is, they just haven’t paid any attention to him. Only now are they seeing his skills, and that he is a player who can do the job at an elite level in all three zones.
Makes you wonder if Kopitar would have ever been noticed if the Kings had not made it to the Finals this season.
To be fair, not every member of the hockey media has the time or resources to be able to keep up with every team, and every player. Some do not cover hockey exclusively, and again, so many in the Eastern Time Zone are sound asleep, either by the time a West Coast game begins, or not too long after the opening face-off.
Nevertheless, it is absolutely ludicrous that so many hockey journalists are only now discovering Kopitar, who is in his sixth season in the NHL.
What rock have these people been hiding under?
After all that, what will be even more disheartening for Los Angeles area hockey fans is when they realize that even if the Kings win the 2012 Stanley Cup, it is not likely to be enough to make much of a dent in the whole obscurity problem, which has roots that are way too deep for the Kings to dig up with one Stanley Cup Championship.
2012 Stanley Cup Final, Los Angeles Kings vs. New Jersey Devils Game 1 Highlights, May 30, 2012
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