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Kings fans packed Staples Center like a playoff game Thursday afternoon for the post-parade commemoration of the team’s first Stanley Cup championship in its 45-year history. And while many of them likely will remember it as a grand old time, Fox Sports West might beg to differ.
Near the end of the hourlong celebration, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s outstanding player during the playoffs, riled up the room when he fairly sauntered to the mic and exclaimed, “How ’bout this f—in’ team right here?” After a pause, he added, “Look at these f—in’ guys.” He paused again, and a voice broke into the audio of Fox Sports West’s coverage. “Yeah, hey, this is, uh, Patrick O’Neal out here on our set. To our entire audience, I just want to apologize for the foul language. Now we go back to Jonathan Quick.”
Expect the feelin’-good goalie’s speech to surface in the extras that accompany the inevitable Kings Stanley Cup DVD.
Quick’s antics came as a surprise — he’s generally low-key in interviews — but earlier comments by Los Angeles City Council president Herb Wesson might have foreshadowed them. He shared a tale about his meeting with the Kings goalie during the parade. “I’ll tell you something that a normal elected official wouldn’t admit to,” Wesson said. “I drank a beer with Quickie on the float.”
In fact, Wesson earlier fired off one of the day’s best lines. After getting the type of derisive welcome often given to politicians at such events, he said, “Don’t boo me — I’m not the mayor.” (L.A. showrunner Antonio Villaraigosa is in Florida for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.)
The rest of the sold-out festivities were pretty much by the book. More than 18,000 showed up, and lines for championship merch were nearly as long as those for the beer stands. In fact, many were seen toting bags stuffed with newly minted T-shirts, caps and such.
Bob Miller, the NHL Hall of Fame announcer who has called Kings games since 1973, emceed the event. He rattled off a list of the team’s historic playoff accomplishments then fired up the room by extolling the crowd, “Let’s say it all together: The Kings are the Stanley Cup champions!”
One rather unlikely star of the show was Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He poked fun at his quiet, laid-back public demeanor by standing and repeatedly punching the air when introduced. The wild cheers got good to him, and he repeated the fist pumps several times. Taking the podium to the afternoon’s first standing ovation, Sutter praised his team. Referring to Monday’s Cup-clinching game against the New Jersey Devils, he said, “When we had that 5-1 lead the other night, just to see the look on their faces is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.” He drew laughs when he told the players to enjoy their win — “and stay out of trouble.”
Later, AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke addressed Sutter, who was running his family’s cattle farm in Calgary, Alberta, when he got the call to coach the team in December: “I want to thank Darryl for giving up the cows and coming to coach the bulls.”
Leiweke also thanked longtime Kings right winger and GM Dave Taylor, who played 17 years with the team then was its GM for a decade. Would have been nice to have Taylor there, along with the other Kings players whose retired numbers hang in the Staples rafters: Wayne Gretzky, Rogie Vachon and Taylor’s longtime linemate Marcel Dionne, who spent 12 seasons with the Kings and never advanced past the second round of the playoffs.
The Kings’ other retired number is 20 — belonging to Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille, now the team’s president of business operations. He took the microphone to a huge roar that got louder after he read an e-mail he had received from someone who waited a long time for a Kings title. It ended, Robitaille said, “Signed, your friend, Marcel Dionne.”
A half-dozen players then took their turns at the microphone, led off by Dustin Penner — an odd choice in that, though he had a strong playoffs, he hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite during his two seasons with the Kings, especially having won the Stanley Cup with the hated Anaheim Ducks in 2007 — followed by Drew Doughty, who had a stellar playoffs after a slow-starting regular season; burly crowd favorite Matt Greene, who scored the final goal of the playoffs; and Anze Kopitar, a six-year King who was the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. He played to the room by saying, “It’s too much fun not to win it again, so let’s go do it.”
Next was hard-nosed but quiet type Dustin Brown, the longest-serving Kings player (nine seasons) and just the second U.S.-born captain of a Cup-winning team. “I look behind me, and I don’t see a team,” Brown said. “I see a bunch of champions.” He added later: “I heard you guys chanting, ‘We want the Cup,’ during the playoffs. Now it can be, ‘We got the Cup.’ “ After the crowd acquiesced, he said: “See? That’s a better chant.”
Brown ended by saying about Miller, “The only bad thing about this [Cup win] was not having this guy calling the games.” Miller was unable to call the final three rounds of the playoffs because the national broadcasts used only network announcers. Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans, also absent from Thursday’s event, handled the radiocasts.
Miller’s broadcast partner, Jim Fox, wasn’t on the ice either because we has involved in Fox Sports West’s coverage of the event. Fox has been with the Kings for more than three decades — the past 22 years as color commentator on telecasts after playing for the team from 1980-90. (Watch him get emotional about the team’s Cup win in the video below.)
The celebration ended with a video that recapped the Kings’ wild playoff run with shots of or sound bites from the likes of Alyssa Milano, Matthew Perry, Andie MacDowell, Kobe Bryant and Tommy Lasorda. It also featured footage of Will Ferrell taken during earlier rounds of the playoffs. He glared at the camera and said: “I’m losing my mind! You need to be losing your minds, too! Let’s go! Auuugggghhhhhh!!”
The final frames played out to the spring megahit “We Are Young.” It was fitting: The Kings have a core of young players who should be expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup again in 2012-13. Miller ended the Staples event by saying: “This has been so much fun. Let’s do it again next year.”
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