I used to play the NES game Blades of Steel as a teenager and without a doubt, my team was the Los Angeles Kings. I wouldn’t have it any other way because this was the only way the Kings, at least in 8-bit glory, would be able to hoist a championship trophy.
If only their carbon-based counterparts were just as good at the time.
As a Kings fan, there were nights when I was one of only 5,000 fans inside the Fabulous Forum, my voice bouncing off the other side of the arena with each goal the Kings managed to score.
Those were the days when the peanut vendor would roam the aisles saying “Get your peanuts for the practice game!” and “Three hours of misery coming up!”
But I was there cheering them on.
I was there on February 14, 1985 and November 8, 1990 when Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne respectively had their numbers retired, the first two Kings to receive such an honor.
I was there for the Triple Crown Line.
I was there when the “press box” was nothing more than an open area in the Colonnade section of about 6 rows of tables, lamps and a few landlines.
I was there to see the Kings lose to the now-defunct Atlanta Flames, Quebec Nordiques, Hartford Whalers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota North Stars.
I was there when Jerry Buss wanted to give all fans in attendance a free hot dog as an apology for the incredibly bad hockey they were being subjected to.
I was there sitting next to the guy with the vuvuzela in the last row.
I was there when student tickets were half price.
I was at the Toyota Center the day Luc Robitaille announced his retirement.
I was there when Bob Miller wished me a Happy Birthday on the air during the pre-game show, the result of leaving a note near his mic. (Upon reading it he looked up at my section – noted in the letter – and called my name then nodded in approval.)
I was also there, year after year, listening to a somber Bob Miller bid a fond farewell to his counterpart and color commentator Nick Nickson at the end of yet another season in which the Kings were so far out of contention it was pitiful.
And year after year, it became abundantly clear that the Kings would never win a Stanley Cup and fans, along with Bob Miller, would have to suffer once again – especially after the team coached by Emilio Estevez won it before us.
But my faith endured, even after Wayne Gretzky came to town and celebrities and bandwagoners priced me out of the arena.
And tonight, after lots of blood, sweat and proverbial tears, the “three hours of misery” and “practice games” ended.
Bob, tonight you can lift your head up and proudly proclaim, in the voice the Los Angelinos know and love, “Your Los Angeles Kings are the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions!”
And I can finally listen to the ending music to Blades of Steel and know that the real Los Angeles team has a real championship to celebrate.
Congratulations, Kings! The 45 year wait is finally over!