Finally, a crown for the Kings

Chris Johnston
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After 45 years in the league, Los Angeles claims its first championship with an emphatic Game 6 win

Los Angeles Kings’ captain Dustin Brown hoists the Stanley Cup after the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in Los Angeles Monday night. The Kings took the best-of-seven series 4-2 to claim their first-ever NHL championship. — Photo by The Associated Press

It was worth the wait. After 45 long years, including two near-misses in the last week, the Los Angeles Kings have finally been crowned Stanley Cup champions. The party kicked off before the first period even ended Monday as Los Angeles romped to a 6-1 series-clinching victory over the stunned New Jersey Devils.

The game turned on a penalty that should immediately erase Marty McSorley’s 1993 illegal stick call as the most memorable in Kings history. Devils forward Steve Bernier was given a five-minute major for boarding just over 10 minutes into the game after bloodying Rob Scuderi with a hard hit from behind, and Los Angeles made him pay.

First captain Dustin Brown got a puck behind Martin Brodeur. Then Jeff Carter followed. By the time Trevor Lewis made it 3-0 at 15:01, the Staples Center crowd knew the Kings had all the goals they needed.

After all, Jonathan Quick didn’t allow more than that in any game during a dominant 16-4 run through this post-season. The Kings goaltender was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for his dominant performance in the Kings’ goal.

Quick didn’t face a lot of shots in Game 6. His toughest task was staying composed as the score went up.

“As much as you keep pushing it out of your mind it’ll creep back in,” he said. “Especially you get that four-goal lead and it’s hard for it not to creep into your head a little bit. But you keep reminding yourself how dangerous of a team they are, and the second you become relaxed and get your mind off what you’re supposed to be doing that’s when they’ll take advantage of you.”

The Devils were the first team since 1945 to even force a Game 6 in the Stanley Cup final after trailing 3-0 in the series, and the clincher highlighted why the task of coming all the way back is so daunting. There’s no room for bad bounces or bad luck.

New Jersey was it where it wanted to be after weathering an early storm and killing off a minor penalty. And then Bernier crashed into Scuderi. The most difficult part of that penalty for the Devils was the fact it came just seconds after Jarrett Stoll had hit Stephen Gionta from behind without a call.

Series over.

The Devils were shaken and their hopes of forcing a Game 7 were soon shattered. It’s extremely rare to see a team score three times on a major penalty, especially against a New Jersey penalty kill that was the NHL’s best in the regular season at 89.6 per cent. They couldn’t maintain that level in the playoffs.

“You know what, tonight is about L.A. and letting them celebrate,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said when asked about the Bernier penalty. “If you want to ask me about that in about a week, I’ll give you my honest opinion on it.”

Carter added another goal in the second period while Adam Henrique got the Devils on the board just over a minute before the intermission. However, there was no doubting the outcome as the final 20 minutes ticked away and resignation started to settle in on the New Jersey bench.

“It’s pretty awesome obviously when you have a three or four goal lead with five minutes left and you know what these guys are capable of doing, then you start seeing it on the bench,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s the feeling ... seeing them so happy and the work that you go through.

“You know the first thing you think about is the coach? These guys are all young enough  ... they’ve got to try it again.”

As the big moment approached, the crowd alternated between derisive chants of “Maaaaarrrtty!” and “We want the Cup!”

And the roar built steadily as the scoreboard neared zero. The roof nearly came off when Lewis hit an empty net at 16:15 and Matt Greene beat Brodeur over the glove just 15 seconds later.

All that was left was for Brown to take centre stage.

When the captain finally accepted the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman and hoisted it in the air, it provided a fitting scene — he was one of the young players the Kings decided to build around when they were mired in a stretch of eight straight years out of the playoffs from 2002 to 2009.

After all, general manager Dean Lombardi sold long-suffering fans on the idea of a complete rebuild when he was hired in 2006 and had this kind of night in mind. There were plenty of days where it seemed like it would never happen.

The trade for Mike Richards last summer, the decision to replace coach Terry Murray with Sutter in December and the acquisition of Carter at the trade deadline was enough to put the Kings over the top. After finishing as the eighth seed in the Western Conference, they found another level during a spring that won’t soon be forgotten in Southern California.

Staples Center was the place to be in Los Angeles once again this June — and this time it wasn’t because of the Lakers. David Beckham, Larry David and Matthew Perry were among the slew of famous faces among the towel-waving crowd, not to mention a long list of Kings alumni.

Organizations: Los Angeles Kings, Staples Center, NHL Southern California.Staples Center Lakers

Geographic location: Los Angeles, New Jersey

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Recent comments

  • saelcove
    June 13, 2012 - 10:45

    The fix was in, hockey is not doing well in the south west

  • Edmund
    June 12, 2012 - 10:51

    It is a sad day in the hockey world when a stupid call by an official (referee) has a major impact in determining the outcome of a crutial playoff game or any game for that matter. I agree it was a questionable call but the King's player turned back into the player making the check who did not have time to change his position or momentum for the hit. It was at best a 2 minute boarding penalty. This blatent miscall / wrong call cost New Jersey the opportunity to force a game 7 which was in their favor until this disgraceful ameture mistake. Why did they not call the hit from behing on the King's player just moments before. The game was 1 to 1 after that and would have been or at least had the makings of one of the greatest games in hockey history. The NHL should put someone in place to judge the officials and then some of them like Watson, Walkom, Rooney and a couple of others, who by the way were desperate when we saw them call games when the Leafs were here, will be fired for non performance of officiating expected by the professional athelets they judge. We should be watching game 7 on Wednesday to see both teams trying to make hockey history except for some dumbo who wanted to get his name in the books one way or the other. It is simply not right and must be addressed before next season.

  • a business man
    June 12, 2012 - 07:13

    THIS is news. THis is what we should be talking about, not some stupid mill in some virtually forgotten community where there are jobs that we as Canadians are now too good for. We should be talking about hockey or soccer, not the demise of dirty fishery jobs that we send our children to school to avoid.

    • CA Safeway
      June 12, 2012 - 10:33

      The sports page is an excellant way to get boys/girls to read regularly and become interested in other subjects like statistics. It also provides bonding through communications with parents and other relatives in the family on favoriate players and teams. Young people who are focused on anything community oriented are less likely to be desruptive and show anti social traits.

    • Chris
      June 13, 2012 - 17:13

      Yeah, because who the hell picks up a local paper to read local news? Personally, I want to hear more about the election in Greece. Dunce.

    • Jon
      June 15, 2012 - 13:30

      Ligthen up b'y. It would be a pretty miserable and depressing life if all we talked about was dying industries