As a native Angeleno, transitioning to the Bay Area has had its ups and downs. People often ask me what I miss most about home, and while my family is always my first answer, my second is a puzzling one for them: the Los Angeles Kings.
My father instilled in me a deep devotion to our hometown team with a legacy of scoring stars like Marcel Dionne, Luc Robitaille and the incomparable Wayne Gretzky. This passion is what made it so difficult to be away from home while the Kings took the NHL playoffs by storm en route to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship. As much as I wanted to feel like a part of the Kings’ Cinderella run, it was difficult to do so while editing news articles for the Daily Cal.
I did everything I could to watch or listen to the games when I wasn’t editing. I even left for a day to fly home for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. The excitement and energy were unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, but the feeling was fleeting.
The Game 6 victory was everything I had dreamed of, but after the newsroom high-fives and hugs there were still articles to be edited.
My longest vacation this past summer was a three-day trip home for the Kings’ championship parade and rally. There were more Kings fans in Downtown L.A. that day than I’ve ever seen. We cheered and bought expensive merchandise in the Stanley Cup afterglow.
But I realized what I missed: actually watching hockey. I missed being surrounded by 18,000 screaming fans. Next season, I was going to go home for the first game so I could see the Stanley Cup banner hung from the Staples Center’s rafters, immortalized alongside the many Lakers championship banners.
Those dreams have since been dashed. The NHL team owners and players’ union aren’t close to establishing a new collective bargaining agreement. The owners claim they’re taking monetary losses and deserve a bigger portion of the profits. The players want to be paid fairly, especially given how much smaller NHL contracts are than those of other professional athletes.
At this point, it’s he said, she said. The owners won’t budge on their demand for a bigger chunk of revenue, and the players don’t think the owners are losing as much money as they say. But the consequences of this disagreement are very real — the first two weeks of the regular season have been cancelled, and players are fleeing the country for the professional leagues across Europe.
The situation is dire enough that ESPN has agreed with Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League to show a handful of games that will feature NHL stars like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Everyone is preparing for another NHL season lost to a lockout, like the most recent one in 2004-5. Now, hockey fans who awaited the start of the season are left with a gaping hole in their lives.
While the NHL owners and players have their own prerogatives, I hope they won’t forget the fans, especially the ones who came back after the last lockout. That season, we spent a whole year watching minor league and NCAA hockey just trying to satisfy that hockey fix we’ve come to depend upon.
The Kings deserve a chance to enjoy a season as the reigning Stanley Cup champions. We fans deserve a chance to be proud of their accomplishment, especially after supporting the team for 45 years and waiting for that first Cup.
And of course, Kings fans aren’t alone. All hockey diehards deserves a chance to enjoy the emotional highs and lows their teams elicit. Even Sharks fans. Maybe.
Contact Christopher Yee at [email protected]
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