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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Tickets for the Kings’ upcoming home Stanley Cup Finals games against the New Jersey Devils – June 4, 5:00 PM PDT (Devils vs. Kings: Game 3); June 6, 5:00 PM (Devils vs. Kings: Game 4); June 11, 5:00 PM (Devils vs. Kings: Game 6 – if necessary )are available from Barry’s Tickets, an official partner of the Los Angeles Kings. Use the code, “Royalty010” to get a 10 percent discount on their “Best Value” tickets.
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Totally agree with you Gann. To further your point look at Quick and the Hart Trophy.
Why he isn’t a finalist for the Hart is a total oversight. Malking and Lundqvist I understand. Both had amazing stats and were instrumental to their teams in the regular season and without them, neither PIT or NYR make the postseason.
Stamkos on the other hand shouldn’t be the third finalist. Yes he lead the league in goals. That is what the Richard trophy is for and he will be the recipient of. I can see him as a candidate for the Hart, but not a finalist.
Quick posts league leading stats on par with Henrik. Without JQ the Kings don’t even get close to the playoffs this season. Both goalies were instrumental to their team being able to make the post season and posted ‘sick’ individual stats. So why no J Quick?
Quick HAD to be a nominee for the Vezina based on his stats. The same way that Stamkos had to be and was the winner of the Richard trophy. His exclusion though for the Hart shows how often and how little the media on the right coast doesn’t know about hockey west of Chicago (with the exception of VAN).
IF the Kings win the SC (I say IF because there are still 3 games to play minimum), then I think this truly shows the complete stupidity of the eastern hockey media. LA doesn’t make the playoffs let alone compete for or win the SC without Quick’s performance this season. If this scenario plays out it reinforces just how critical and important he was to LA’s success this year. Instead of this he isn’t a finalist for the award.
nailed it Gann! I’m starting to see it like, let them give the Kings their due after we’ve won it all. they won’t know what hit them!
It is not just the time difference. How many times have the Kings fielded terrific teams, only to have the Eastern media ignore them? Marcel Dionne labored almost in obscurity for his entire career with the Kings…
The Eastern media is flat out biased against Western teams, in particular Western American teams and most specifically Western, American, LOS ANGELES TEAMS- or should i say ‘team’? A perfect example of this bias was during the second game against St. Louis I believe. The ‘experts’ kept going on about the Blues power play- WHICH WAS DOING NOTHING- until one of them said that this vaunted power play was about to catch fire and the Kings could be in trouble. I sat there stunned and thought ‘dude, the Blues are down 5-1 LATE IN THE THIRD PERIOD! The bloody power play could burst into flames and it wouldn’t do them any good!’
The only one who seems genuinely impressed with the Kings- although even he looks like he is surprised by the as well- is Mike Milbury.
The Kings are clearly the best team in the league at the moment and have no weaknesses at all in any position. They are deep on defence and offence. Their penalty killing gets them more goals than it costs them(!) and Quick is playing like a man possessed. If their power play ever catches fire- there’s that phrase again!- they will be… Actually, they can’t be any better!
I am picking the Kings of The Road to sweep the Devils and lift the Cup at Staples in Game 4.
Los Angeles has an amazing professional hockey team that will be ignored no matter what they do, no matter how much they shine. You have to feel for San Jose and Anaheim also, because one can assume they also are viewed the same as The Kings.
I have to say as a relocated Canadian the general media coverage on hockey is lackluster at best. Its amazing how the sport gets next to no recognition on major sports outlets. I miss TSN and will listen to their radio programs just to get my hockey fix.
Have to disagree Gann. If memory serves me correct, the Kings had won 17 playoff games in the past 14 seasons before this year. They finished 8th in the Western Conference (however, as I wrote they should have won their division and been a 3rd seed) which is not going to gather any publicity, period.
I think the L.A. Kings are a great story and I’ve been rooting for them since they finished off Vancouver (and made money along the way). But even the most ardent Kings fans are in shock (unless you are drinking the purple and gold kool-aid) because this story is as unexpected as it comes.
Even in L.A., the Kings didn’t start to draw much media attention until the Lakers and Clippers were knocked out of the playoffs, thus to blame East Coast bias is too predictable.
All Kings fans should bath in the glory you are about to experience and if you want people to notice you, win your division next year and return to The Finals again next season.