The Los Angeles Kings: California's First Professional Hockey Club

Photo of Heather Hildreth
11 December 2015

This is a look at the history and success of the Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

With a growing fan base and growing interest in hockey from the LA community, it is a great time to become a fan of California’s first hockey team, the LA Kings.

A lot of people forget that Los Angeles has been the home of a competitive hockey team since the late 60’s. Though Los Angeles’s sunny, tropical climate was anything but traditional for the hockey market, in 1966 a man by the name of Jack Kent Cooke was given an NHL expansion franchise for the city of LA and for thirty-two years the Forum in Inglewood would serve as the Los Angeles Kings playing arena. With the Kings being a new team located in a non-traditional market, it was shocking to see the team making it to the post season only a handful of years after its conception. Unfortunately, the Stanley Cup wouldn’t find the hands of a King until the year 2012.

We cannot talk about the Kings without mentioning one of the biggest blockbuster trades in all of sports history. In 1988, the Los Angeles Kings were able add one of the greatest hockey players of all time to their roster, Wayne Gretzky. This man helped the Edmonton Oilers win four consecutive Stanley cups from 1984-1988 and set a record 894 career goals during his time as a hockey player. Many of his records are still unattainable for many current hockey players today. His success during his NHL career coined him the name “The Great One” and that name still lives on within the hockey community to this day. Sadly, even with all of Wayne Gretzky’s talent, the Kings were never able to win the cup with The Great One on the roster. The closest Gretzky came to winning his fifth Stanley Cup with the Kings was in the 1992-93 season where they were defeated by the Montreal Canadiens in the cup final.

The Kings continued to struggle to make it deep into the playoffs, but the 2011-12 season would prove otherwise. Even though they struggled their way through the regular season, just barely clinching an 8th seed spot in the playoffs, the postseason Kings were an entirely different team. They were the second team defeat the first, second and third seed teams in sequence, and on June 11th, 2012 the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils and raised the prestigious Stanley Cup above their heads with pride.

LA Kings goalie, Johnathan Quick and defenseman, Drew Doughty sharing the Cup.

The sudden success of the Los Angeles Kings doesn’t end there, because in the 2013-14 postseason the Kings did the unthinkable. The Kings were down three games to their hated rivals, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks only needed to win one more game to send the Kings packing; all odds were against them. Instead of going home, the Kings fought their way back, winning one game then another and then another. The Kings and Sharks were now tied at three games each and in game seven the Kings beat their rivals in enemy territory at the Shark Tank. The Los Angeles Kings were the second team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 game deficit on the big stage, and thus were coined the nickname “Comeback Kings”. Eventually, the Kings continued their postseason success and beat the New York Rangers in game seven of the Stanley cup final, and once again the hardworking group of men (Drew Doughty, Justin Williams, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar and Johnathan Quick just to name a few) were able to hoist the Stanley Cup.

After making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs three years in a row, it could be said that the Los Angeles Kings were probably a little worn out. There is much speculation as to why the Los Angeles Kings 2014-15 season wasn’t a success. Some say it was injuries, some say it was the loss of one of their strongest defenseman, and others say that the team was just plain tired. This past season was a very lackluster one for the LA Kings and unfortunately the team couldn’t make it to the playoffs. It was frustrating, embarrassing, but most importantly it was motivating. The team captain, Dustin Brown, hired a nutritionist as did our goalie, Johnathan Quick. The whole team took their time during the off season to condition their bodies and their minds. The Kings are angry that they didn’t make the playoffs last year, and I think it’s safe to say that they will do everything in their power this season to make it back out on top.

If you plan on watching this fast paced, high action sport in person and are in a budget, my personal suggestion would to get center-ice nosebleeds. The Staples center is an amazing venue, so really any seat anywhere will do.

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