LOS ANGELES - It was a beautiful Monday afternoon in the City of Angels and like in 2012, a quarter-million fans of the Los Angeles Kings came out to support their long-beloved team for winning hockey's Holiest prize for the second time in three years. Like in 2012, this was a celebration worth remembering.
Fans - most of whom had been waiting since 5 am local time - packed themselves all along Figueroa - beginning at the corner of W. 5th St. in the city's Financial District - to watch their boys ride down the street in double-decker buses, Toyota Tundras and other flambuoyantly-decorated vehicles. While the players and their families will be riding along the parade route with the Stanley Cup in tow, so will the coaches, broadcasters, alumni, the Ice Crew as well as the team's lovable mascot, Bailey.
There may not have been any F-bombs dropped by goaltender Jonathan Quick but there was one dropped by Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. "There are two rules in politics," the mayor announced to the Staples Center faithful at the ice-level podium, "They say never ever be pictured with a drink in your hand and never swear," then proceeded to hold up a can of Bud Light and finish with, "But this is a big f*@#in' day."
Before the party moved inside, however, the fans, players and even coaches had plenty of fun in the sun. Head coach Darryl Sutter, as a matter of fact, took his shirt off. That may not be very shocking but given Sutter's quiet but witty nature in addition to his old-school coaching methods, seeing the Kings' bench boss shirtless will certainly something to remember for Kings fans not only at the parade on Monday but abroad.
After growing their playoff beards for the previous eight weeks, many of the players on the parade route did not look familiar with their what felt like a foreign look with their clean-shaven faces. But Kings fans did recognize them anyway and proceeded to celebrate all the way down Figueroa and into Staples Center where just three nights earlier, Alec Martinez's overtime goal clinched the Kings' second Stanley Cup crown.
Monday marked a very deserving celebration for the players, all the fans and everyone else involved who made any type of contribution to the success of the Los Angeles Kings over the last couple of months. While 2012 was a very special time, 2014 marked a postseason where the Kings made even more history, first becoming just the fourth team in NHL history to come back from an 0-3 series deficit to win. Then, they became the first team to go to the Final after winning their first three series in seven games - and all on the road to boot.
It took a few more games and a bit more adversity than in 2012, but at the end of the day, neither the Los Angeles Kings could care less. After all, as long as they crossed that finish line, how they got there is simply irrelevant.
On this day, June 16, 2014, the quarter-million fans who attended the parade and the many more who watched from home - whether in Los Angeles, Toronto or Timbuktu - all that matters is that their Los Angeles Kings are, once again, the Kings of hockey.