LOS ANGELES — A couple of days have passed since the Los Angeles Kings celebrated their 2014 Stanley Cup Championship with their fans during a parade down Figueroa Street in Downtown Los Angeles, turning west onto Chick Hearn Court, between Staples Center and L.A. Live, followed by a rally inside Staples Center.
Now that the initial excitement has died down just a bit, a look back at the rally indicates that it was more than a celebration. To be sure, the Kings celebrated their victory and expressed their gratitude. But they also used the event to send a few messages as well.
After the Hall-of-Fame “Voice of the Kings,” Bob Miller opened the festivities, Eric Garcetti, Mayor, City of Los Angeles, got the rally off to a raucous start with a surprising conclusion to his remarks.
Indeed, after offering his thanks and congratulations, Mayor Garcetti shocked the crowd.
“There are a few rules in politics,” he said. “They say never, ever be pictured with a drink in your hand, and never swear. But this is a big f-ing day.”
Yes, Mayor Garcetti, who was holding a beer bottle at the time, unleashed an F-bomb. But fans at Staples Center roared with approval and the players gave him a standing ovation. Various news reports indicate that the Mayor has received some criticism for his choice of words, but it appears that he is unlikely to suffer politically as a result.
Kings President/Business Operations Luc Robitaille followed Mayor Garcetti and in the opening of his remarks he said, “We told our players not to cuss, thanks,” an obvious reference to their 2012 Stanley Cup Championship rally when goaltender Jonathan Quick let go with multiple F-bombs.
Dan Beckerman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) began his remarks with an obvious response to recent reports that AEG was looking to sell the Kings.
“The Kings have always been the heart of this company,” said Beckerman, who previously denied that the Kings were for sale. “They always have and they always will be.”
Beckerman continued addressing the fans.
“To our fans, we spent last two months in five different arenas all over this country, from the West, to the Midwest, to the East, and I can tell you, first-hand, that we have the best, the loudest, the most passionate fans in the entire country,” he said.
He then turned to the people seated on the ice.
“To our hockey operations department, the best in the league, period—the front office, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, our scouting and our development—it’s the life blood of our team, and they make this possible,” Beckerman noted. “It’s truly a team effort and we wouldn’t be here without’em.”
“I think we’ve learned that [President/General Manager] Dean [Lombardi] is the best hockey mind in the NHL,” Beckerman added. “He is the architect of this team, and he, and his front office, have masterfully assembled this championship team, and we’re forever grateful to him.”
“I want to thank [head coach] Darryl [Sutter] and [his wife], Wanda. His leadership is absolutely incredible, and I thank God that Dean was able to convince him, two-and-a-half years ago, to get off of his farm and come to L.A. to coach this team.”
Always a team-first coach, Sutter began his remarks with words for the families of the players, coaches and staff.
“I speak on behalf of everyone sitting down here—I want to first recognize our families…I know you can’t win championships without having your family around you,” said Sutter. “I know what it’s meant to me and I want to thank you guys. That’s on behalf of everybody.”
Sutter then focused on the fans.
“I want to thank all our fans, on behalf of everyone sitting here today,” he said. “You guys have been awesome. You stuck with us. We struggled in January, and then we came back after the Olympics. We had the best record in the National Hockey League after the Olympics until the middle of June, and you guys were a big part of it.”
That surge after the Olympics pushed the Kings into the playoffs, and was a catalyst in their run to the Stanley Cup.
“Our goal going into this past season was to get 100 points, make the playoffs and play hockey in June,” Sutter noted. “Game 7 of the Conference Finals was against the Chicago Blackhawks, and that was June 1, so the next part of that was winning games in June. We won five out of six games in June and that’s why we’re sitting here today.”
“You see this baby right here,” Sutter asked, tapping his left hand on the Stanley Cup. “She’s been gone for a couple years, and oh…we’re happy she’s home.”
The rally continued with remarks from forward and captain Dustin Brown and Lombardi, who also had messages of their own, ones that went deeper than those reported in this story. More on that will be forthcoming in another story.
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