Monday, June 2, 2014

Kings/Blackhawks: Game 7

Pretty much all "thoughts of the day" are going to be about Sunday's experience watching a most unforgettable Kings/Blackhawks Western Conference Game 7.   So!  Let's begin.  I'll break this down into parts.  Part 1 is the morning.


I got up at 5:30 am... I had a fun night that went fairly late.  I was at a friend's friend's house in the valley and we had some very friendly faces there.  Twas a good time.  I even photobombed a pic of two ladies on a friend's dare.  That was funny although I'm positive I creeped them out... they said they got a kick out of it though.  Man!   Would you believe that place had fajitas?  Piles and piles of free catered fajitas and we just came from Chili's where we ate a whole lot.   We were reduced to sampling some of them.

Now at this party we met some older blonde lady who claims she was in an Offspring video (the lady in the stars and stripes bikini, far right, "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" video, about the 2:45 mark or something).   I punched it into YouTube on my phone just as she described minus the precise timing and BOOM, located her on the video, so we all showed it to her and she *really* got a kick out of it!  She was amazed and elated to see that blast from the past... however, she was in general terms a trainwreck so we left her be.

We had to leave earlier than intended so as to avoid a 405 freeway closure.  From the valley, the 405 was our only realistic way home... if we left any later we'd be hosed.   We barely eked through some lane closures and made it back.   I had an eventful sleep.  Got up momentarily to use the bathroom then returned to bed and slept again.

In my dream, I was already at the Hermosa Beach bar watching the game and the Kings took the lead in the 3rd period and gave up the lead AGAIN to the Blackhawks.   Kane scored one of the goals in the dream.   Then I "woke up" and looked around and realized that the game truly happened.  I was fully dismayed and screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Out of that, I woke up for real.. I was really out of it... talk about "inception," I had a dream and dreamt that I woke up within the dream, but I really didn't.  However!  I got a solid 9 hours of sleep combined.  Physically, I felt pretty good.

My first step was to get coffee, so I went to the grocery store, which has their own Starbucks stand (every bit as authentic as the starbucks coffee at their retail locations -- its as good as an actual retail location within a regular grocery store).  I went up to the lady there, who I've run into multiple times, and she says to me "I've never seen you without a button up shirt!"   She's referring to the regular collar'd shirts I'm wearing on work days.  How about that?  I also explained to her that I'm wearing my lucky shirt today: a black shirt with a gothic design on it.  I also am wearing my Kings hockey hat so I mentioned how I'm a big fan and the Kings have a huge game that night.   It was a fun conversation, I got my coffee, and went back to the front of my apartment building.

It was a gorgeous day in Santa Monica, and I spent some time just soaking it in and standing under a tree.  However, I was also trying to get myself together mentally.. I was still fretting the thought of blowing a 3-1 series lead and seeing the Blackhawks make the Final.  I like the Blackhawks, but to be that close to a Cup Final and lose was tormenting on the inside.   Then, my neighbor comes outside to adjust a car seat in his van.  We talk hockey for a while, he's from Montreal and loves the Canadiens.  We dig into the Chicago/LA series and chat that too.

After he went back in, I finished my coffee and started to go inside but first I saw Coach stop in front of me, fresh off his outdoor run.   So we go in at the same time and I break down my upcoming day.  I had an idea all weekend to try a much reputed LA Kings bar -- the North End Bar and Grill in Hermosa Beach. 

I start to prepare for the trip and watch some baseball and golf, then I set off for the commute.


There were so many people in the neighborhood yesterday that I was forced to park my car way up 10th street, so I trudged a ten minute walk to my car and started to go.  Still nervous, I thought it was time to *rock out*, so I popped Night Ranger on Spotify starting with "Don't Tell Me Your Love Me."  and I was *blasting* the song.. opened both windows and bopped my head as I drove towards San Vicente.  I was flyin' folks... rocking to the tunes, passing a classic Porsche convertible and hitting the freeway.  Warm day!

Traffic was fantastic... it took only 40 minutes to get to Hermosa Beach with all the twists and turns.


I left for Hermosa Beach at roughly 12:30 and got there around 1:10... it took a while to find a place to park as I needed a space without a time limit.  I knew even going in I wanted to spend about 9 hours in town.   So, I found a space on the curb in the neighborhood by a house and parked there.   The walk down to the strand, as they call their main drag, was not long.   I then passed the bar itself, "The North End," right on the main drag.   The bar is *tiny*.  It was even smaller than I thought; really looks to be about the size of an In N Out Drive Thru.   You think I'm exaggerating, but there honestly wasn't much more room than that. 

Here's a picture I took of it.  See this "dome thing" on the end?  That's not just the "end", that is the whole bar!  There's not much else to it other than a small pool room on the other side of this dome.

I couldn't just go right to the bar yet... even for a Game 7 I knew I had at least a couple moments to check out the beach -- so I did!  And here in Hermosa, You can just walk across the street from the bar above and hit the beach... almost immediately.    I crossed the bike path and rested on the concrete barrier between the bike path and the beach.   Wonderful!  I also took some pictures including this shot of the lifeguard tower.

It was a glorious 20-30 minutes resting by the beach and watching the waves.  Up next, we went into the North End itself.


I entered North End for the first time, and only about 4 people were there, so I was pleased to get my seat to check out the game.  Perfect vantage point.  You can see their largest screen perfectly from the corner of this bar, where I was.  I entered at 2:15.   At 2:30 a man sits next to me and introduces himself... Geno is his name, so we strike a conversation and chat about the upcoming game and our own scenarios.

Well... how about this?  I'm so tired as I write this that I can't elaborate into more detail.  I'll provide a short cut version.   We also met two of Geno's friends there, Matt and Maggic, and then we ran into a couple folks who were just there for the day: Molly and "Josh".  I'll call him "Josh" because I don't remember what his name actually was.  It could have been Nick, but that's hearsay right now.

We started to chat and really get to know each other.  By Period 1 it seemed like we all were close friends and knew each other for life.  

First Period

People go to the bar for drinks as the game gets underway.  I got to meet and greet some of them, and I think one of the ladies' names was Abby?   I forget... I was already sinking Bud Light beers by then.  With every half hour the pouplation of the bar doubles.   By 4pm it was insane!

Game starts and Chicago gets to a 2-0 lead... People around me were feeling down but many of our group thought the Kings could battle back -- they did.

Second Period

I think I had the meal earlier, but I ate a Pulled Pork Panini with tater tots - yum!  Second period, Kings come back and the place is absolutely packed by now.   We ride the edges of our seats with every goal.  AND with each goal, one of the guys in our group would buy a round of Jello Shots (only two bucks each!).  It was my turn somewhere in there so I bought a round.

Third Period and Overtime

Sleep is calling my name now, so I'll give the cliffs notes version of this.  I start to really feel down as others are chatting about random topics during the game.  As the 3rd period starts, the Kings are down a goal, for a good ten minutes maybe.   I look at the score, see the running time and start to fret.  In fact, earlier in the game I started clenching my fists, put my head down and started meditating.  "Please God... let the Kings win... please win Kings" I thought to myself.   As the game goes along everyone's saying to me "Hang in there Dave, they'll come back here."  but we were really getting down to the nitty gritty by the third period.  Molly sees me down and out and puts her arm around me.  Then she says "Dave they're gonna get this.  They HAVE to get this!  They're gonna get this."

It was right around then, the Kings made their comeback!  First that wild goal by either Carter or Toffoli that was batted in -- I think it was Toffoli and we went *nuts!*   After being down most of the 3rd period with the season seemingly ending, the Kings found a way to tie it.   We're all celebrating the tying goal and chatting about things in between.  

The third period ends and I take a final restroom break.   An added person joins our group, a friend of Matt's.    He says he was a bartender in Utah which we all thought was impossible given their strict drinking laws.  ANYWAY, in the Overtime intermission I said to everyone "Fellas!  This is truly a fun experience I shall not soon forget.    Even if we lose--" and everyone yelled "NONONONONONONONO!!!!" to cut me off hahahahahahahaha... that was really funny.

And the period after that -- magic.   After not leading the whole game, the Kings finally took a lead when it counted, overtime.  Alec Martinez shot a wild one that fluttered over Corey Crawford's shoulder and in for the game winning goal.   Kings win a trip to the Stanley Cup Final!  We went BANANAS!!   Everything after that was a blur -- my LA Kings cap fell off, beer spilled all over my shirt, we are all just *hugging* each other hard, high fiving and everything, then I yelled at Molly "you believed!!"  I said a whole lot of inapropriate things during that moment!!   Most of them language related, four letter words and so on, we were all just *delirious* over this comeback!  To think the Kings, who were down 2-0 in the game on the road in a Game 7, could come back and win this one.

but deep down inside, I felt a little differently that day.  I felt like "you know what, it IS possible to see them come back as they had all playoffs long."  The Kings have been fighters all season so I did think it was tough to see them fight at it again in Chicago but I never fully counted them out... and the guys around me never did either.  The whole bar just erupted that night.  The folks at North End passed around victory drinks, some combination of fireball and other light alcoholic beverages.  We all drank up those special "victory shots" for free!

The shot wasn't that strong either.  We all were finding guys around us to high five and congratulate.  This is still such an indelible moment.   Many of us stayed for a few minutes after the game.  Slowly the other parties left to go home.   Then, after a while, it was just Geno and Me again, taking our day full circle.  We got a night time meal - he had pizza and I had a burger.  Damn good burger too, you can cook it any way you want it.  We all kept on partying for another hour solid after the game.  It was still going even after the fact but by 10pm the original crowd had mostly gone and new people took their place.  It felt like it was time to go.

We checked out and went our merry ways, with Geno teasing a Game 1 Cup Final meetup at the same North End bar.   WHAT A FUN NIGHT.  I'll never forget it!  Cheers to the Kings too... GO KINGS GO!

1 comment:

manderly7835 said...

Quite a day, quite a story!