Last night, while Los Angeles’ pro basketball teams took a rare night off in their respective quests for relevant post-seasons, and as UCLA’s women’s basketball team joined their male counterparts in their respective Sweet Sixteens before a half-empty Pauley Pavilion, hockey got a rare chance for the spotlight. And if you’re among the many in this rainy, isolated indifferent city who haven’t noticed, the Kings are doing pretty darn well of late.
So well, in fact, that with the season heading into its final stretch they have become absolute overachievers. As the Associated Press’ Greg Beacham reported:
Drew Doughty and Viktor Arvidsson scored in Los Angeles’ four-goal first period, Adrian Kempe had two goals and an assist, and the Kings cruised into a first-place tie in the Pacific Division with an 8-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
Carl Grundstrom had two goals and Gabriel Vilardi and Mikey Anderson also scored for the Kings, who pulled even with Vegas atop the division by extending their points streak to 10 games (8-0-2) with their second eight-goal outburst of the season. The Kings have earned a point in every game in March, putting themselves in contention for just the second division title for a franchise with two Stanley Cup championships.
“They played a hell of a game,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said of his team. “I thought our puck pressure and our tenacity was at its best, both when we had the puck and when we didn’t. It allowed us to create turnovers and take advantage of them.”
Nice write-up. Generic, albeit accurate. And exactly the piece and author that the LOS ANGELES TIMES ran this morning.
The KIngs have overachieved the expectations of many of the pundits who predicted, at best, a third-place division finish or a wild card berth at best for a team that was eliminated in last season’s first round by Edmonton. They are in far better position for a post-season berth of consequence than are the yo-yoing Clippers, who struggle to stay healthy and the Lakers, who are in a mad scramble for a play-in berth with seven other teams, of which only six of the eight (including the Clippers) will advance to the post-season, and are still without Lebron James as they attempt to extend their season by even one game, not necessarily at home.
But if you did know all that, then you’re either among the rabid few who actually show up at the Crypto.com Center (that rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it??) or find a way to listen or watch their coverage, on either their bankrupt and little-viewed RSN or their internet-only audio feed, since not a single terrestrial radio station in this market was interested in carrying their games. Not even in a foreign language.
Indifference for an underperforming team is part of the norm in a city as distracted as this one is. Los Angeles has never embraced losers, and nowadays many are reluctant to embrace anything or anyone. But even when the Kings finally broke through with their 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cups, there was little fanfare. Their 2014 parade was not held in downtown Los Angeles, where the 2022 Rams and numerous Lakers celebrations have been. Instead, it was held in three South Bay beach towns, where the majority of the players live and near their practice facility. Beautiful venues, to be sure. But more akin to where suburban winners like the Ducks, Islanders and Devils celebrated. Not a team that plays their games in DTLA.
For the passionate and beautiful fans who actually do love this team, of which I count myself as one, indifference of this magnitude is maddening. I get that more and more people don’t consume sports news as traditonally and as in depth as I do, particularly younger ones. And when the Kings have been marginal, as they have for many years in their existence, it was almost understandable. At the risk of redundancy, founding owner Jack Kent Cooke’s early observation that the half-full stands when the Forum was first built suggested that despite the potential of the market having at the time over hafl a million Canadian ex-pats, they clearly moved away because they hate hockey has often been proven to be spot on.
But this team? In this climate?
The Vegas Golden Knights, a team that didn’t exist until 2017, have strong media coverage. A beat writer from the hometown Review-Journal. Those Canadian teams that the Kings have vaulted over have several such reporters, including from national networks and publications. And rest assured if and when they ever have a parade, it won’t be through affulent bedroom communities.
As the esteemed Stephanie Tanner has observed:
If you’re a child of the 80s and 90s, you know she was on a show called FULL HOUSE, more recently its revival FULLER HOUSE. There was indeed a full house at Crypto last night. But more attention should be paid by Los Angeles media, and its fan base, to exactly why that was the case.
Hey, LA Times–If you need an actual reporter to cover Saturday’s key matchup with Winnipeg, my hand is raised. And I’ll gladly do it just for a pass into the game.
The NHL Kings are winning. Spread the word.