Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dave's Thoughts of the Day: June 14th, Saturday Edition

I am in awe of what the LA Kings did.

To think that a team could come back from 0-3 down in their opening series and go all the way to a Stanley Cup Championship.   Three Game 7 wins on the road.   Coming back from a 2-0 game deficit to win multiple times.   Playing the best of the best in the West and a cagey, incredibly speedy skating team like the New York Rangers in the East.  Watching the last two weeks of playoff games with new friends I made in Hermosa Beach and in a small bar full of crazies called the North End.

It's been such a great dream, and the Kings deserve it!  Congratulations to the LA Kings!!!

I'll have more regarding the series itself on the Dave Podcast on Monday night, 10pm ET at, but in terms of the experience, there was nothing like it.

Similar to the Chicago Game 7, I motored down to Hermosa Beach, this time from work, with Night Ranger's "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" blasting from the speakers as I started the trip.  I wore the Kings 2012 cap just like I did for the Game 7.  I wore the UCSB Water Polo shirt I wore to Kings/Ducks Game 7 which I saw with Kevin from Torrance.   Superstitions mean nothing, but it couldn't hurt.  I was fortunate enough to have all the departments close early for commencement so there was no issue with traffic and I didn't even have to wait in line this time to get into North End.

North End is a really tiny place.   You can only fit about 100 people in there, and as the bar scene goes, it's the only game in town for the whole neighborhood... there really aren't any other bars nearby for a good mile or so.  No wonder, it became such a diamond in the rough.  People really made it their second home.  Anyway, among some of the regs and my new buddies, we gathered together and waited, but waiting doesn't take so long when you have people to talk to, so we talked to guys and gals around the bar and ordered some food and drink.

Four hours later, Game 5 started.  The place was again packed, and we did our thing, screaming at scoring chances, and yelling GO KINGS GO.   Many who follow this blog probably saw the game so I won't recap the whole thing... the point was, it was a great time.

Some of this night was bitter sweet.  One friend had to go on the behest of his girlfriend, and it took place barely 2 minutes before the series winning goal by Alec Martinez.   I grant you that the game was into double overtime and it was about 9:15pm local, but man... I think any of us sports fans know that if the same thing happened to one of us, the relationship would be *ovah.*   Nonetheless, the night came full circle, as my first of the new friends stayed to watch the end and we just went bonkers...!   High fiving each other, SCREAMING, hugging everything that moved!   It was quite the scene.

Many of the same folks, the folks we saw during the other Kings Cup Final Games, some of them for who we also saw during the West Final Game 7, stayed around, hoping we'd get a peek at the cup, but similar to last time, the Police and the owners kicked us all out so that the Kings, and I'm sure their close family and friends, could all enter the bar with the cup.

Again, North End only fits 100 people.   If the Kings roster has 30 people, and not everyone on the team was going to go to the bar, but say you had a party of about 50 coming in and THEN close associates, you really had no choice but to make it a "private event."  I don't think most people had an issue with getting booted.  If North End was bigger, it could have happened where they could have come in WITH everyone else still around, but that's a Catch 22... the Kings would not go to a large bar with a whole lot of people there because it's not their "neighborhood haunt" to them.  A huge bar defeats the premise of "taking the cup back home."   No matter... I walked to the car and drove home.  I was there so long, any buzz I had disappeared.  I also had a tuna melt which I enjoyed immensely.   There was a funny moment where a lady at the bar wanted one of my tots, so I gave her one and I took my tot and we clanked the tots together like beer glasses in a toast!  I offered the tots to some other folks as well.  Good times, my friends, good times.

We danced, we sang some, we drank, we enjoyed an indelible memory.   This won't be the last time I see my hockey friends.  I'm going to try to join their volleyball games, and maybe we can meet again for some World Cup stuffs.

Now with all the excitement here in Los Angeles, I would be remiss if I didn't salute the New York Rangers.  My goodness, was Henrik Lundqvist great or what?  I was so impressed by his excellent performance in such a big series.  I also thought Dan Girardi and Mats Zuccarello were terrific defensively.  It's true what everyone said... that team is not only deep but has INCREDIBLE team speed.   Passes I thought were sure breakaways were always countered by a Rangers defender.   Even for a series that went "only" 5 games, this was an incredibly tough team to play.   I think the Rangers presented more of a challenge to the Kings than the Devils did two years ago!  Especially when you consider the stellar output of Lundqvist.  I hope that's not the last we hear of the Rangers... that team might have something special, and for NYR, a fantastic season for a group that did not have huge expectations.  If the Rangers get more talent at forward, the team could make yet another Cup run.  We'll see how it goes, but seriously, mad props to the Rangers for a wonderful season and for a worthy Cup opponent.

So it ends.  Another great year in sports.   I think it's safe to say the Spurs will finish their unfinished business on Sunday.   For me, the sports year "starts" in September and ends in June, but we do also have MLB season the whole year, so it's not entirely dry during the summer.   It's always neat to see the drama of the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final take place nearly side by side.  I've had a lot of fun, and as John in CT suggested to me, I have no reason to complain about sports for another 5 years.   Lakers, Steelers, Dodgers, USC Football, and now the Kings... I am the sports fan that has it all.  It's been fantastic.

Thank you so much, Los Angeles Kings.  Thanks so much, North End Bar and Grill.  Thanks to the sporting world for being good to me.  I hope I can repay everyone back someday, somehow.   I'm in for a very fun summer, and I'll be back with my usual nonsense on the blog at some point next week.

Heading East next week too!   That's going to be pretty awesome.   I can't wait!  For now, have a good one and see you soon.

No comments: