The Kings Fan Mentality
People keep asking me:
Why aren’t you talking about the Kings domination? Everyone is saying they are the cup favorites!
To expect Kings fans to be optimistic is to not know Kings fans.
This is not a statement on the lack of character of the Los Angeles faithful. It is a natural derivative of watching a team consistently fall short of expectations for 43 years.
But wait a minute, you say. There have been some golden years of Kings’ past.
What about the Rogie Years?
Right. The years with should-be Hall of Fame goaltender Rogie Vachon. Here’s how the Kings fared:
- 1971-72: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1972-73: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1973-74: Lost in Quarterfinals, 1–4 (Blackhawks)
- 1974-75: Lost in Preliminary Round, 1–2 (Maple Leafs)
- 1975-76: Won in Preliminary Round, 2–0 (Flames)
Lost in Quarterfinals, 3–4 (Bruins)
- 1976-77: Won in Preliminary Round, 2–1 (Flames)
Lost in Quarterfinals, 2–4 (Bruins)
- 1977-78: Lost in Preliminary Round, 0–2 (Maple Leafs)
Oh. Damn. Well, at least they were in the hunt for a few years.
What about those heralded Triple Crown Line years?
Right. The years the Kings had Marcel Dionne, Dave Talyor, and Charlie Simmer and filled opponents nets with a fervor never seen before and, with the exception of the Gretzky years, will likely never be seen again. That worked out great in the post-season:
- 1978-79: Lost in Preliminary Round, 0–2 (Rangers)
- 1979-80: Lost in Preliminary Round, 1–3 (Islanders)
- 1980-81: Lost in Preliminary Round, 1–3 (Rangers)
- 1981-82: Won in Division Semifinals, 3–2 (Oilers)
Lost in Division Finals, 1–4 (Canucks)
- 1982-83: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1983-84: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1984-85: Lost in Division Semifinals, 0–3 (Oilers)
- 1985-86: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1986-87: Lost in Division Semifinals, 1–4 (Oilers)
- 1987-88: Lost in Division Semifinals, 1–4 (Flames)
The high point of this era was the Miracle on Manchester in 1982, in which the Kings were getting smoked at home against Edmonton 5-0, and came back and won 6-5 in OT. They went on to win the series in five games but lost in the next round against Vancouver, only taking one game in the series.
OK but the Gretzky years were awesome!
- 1988-89: Won in Division Semifinals, 4–3 (Oilers)
Lost in Division Finals, 0–4 (Flames)
- 1989-90: Won in Division Semifinals, 4–2 (Flames)
Lost in Division Finals, 0–4 (Oilers)
- 1990-91: Won in Division Semifinals, 4–2 (Canucks)
Lost in Division Finals, 2–4 (Oilers)
- 1991-92: Lost in Division Semifinals, 2–4 (Oilers)
- 1992-93: Won in Division Semifinals, 4–2 (Flames)
Won in Division Finals, 4–2 (Canucks)
Won in Conference Finals, 4–3 (Maple Leafs)
Lost in Finals, 1–4 (Canadiens)
- 1993-94: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1994-95: Did not qualify for Playoffs
- 1995-96: Did not qualify for Playoffs
The Gretzky years were awesome, not only because Kings fans got to see the greatest player to ever lace up skates every night, but because it finally made the team a legitimate contender for a few years. A legitimate contender- that only made it to the finals once.
Since then there was a really fun defeat of the Red Wings in 2001, but other than what is listed there is virtually no other playoff success to speak of.
The type of person that is able to stay sane and enjoy watching this team all these years is one that can find enjoyment in crappy situations. It is not the type of person that only revels in winning and tolerates nothing less. They deal with current disappointment by reminiscing about the ‘better’ days with Vachon, Dionne, and Gretzky, and hoping for what could be with Doughty, Voynov, Quick, Kopitar, and Toffoli.
They aren’t drawn to the team because they can stick a finger in other fans’ faces and say they’re the best. Hell, they aren’t doing it to fit in at all.
It’s not easy to go to a sports bar in southern California and ask the bartender to, ‘please put a hockey game on- if perhaps the gentlemen at the bar are done watching the Sports Center anchors verbally fellate Lebron James.’
Over time, it gets less and less fun to explain to inquisitors what ‘icing’ is, why fighting is allowed, why they can’t just put a 400 lb. guy in the net, and yes I am actually from California.
You go through all that and then go to a game and see all these other people like you. You exchange glances – “You know what it’s like.”
And year after year, you gather together to watch this team find a way to lose. Even when you foolishly expect better.
Here we are now, in 2012, and not only is the team finding ways to win, they are dominating. In the playoffs. They aren’t making miraculous comebacks, they are starting games shot out of a cannon and finishing them with the hammer down.
Really you jerks? You aren’t surprised that after an 82 game season in which you were only able to string more than two wins together four times you are unfazed by going 11-1 in the Western Conference Playoffs? Really.
And all of this is supposed to come as no surprise to those self-deprecating SoCal sports fan outcasts.
But you knew this team was capable of this!
I’ll tell you what I knew- I knew Doughty was a holdout, his agent is a prick, Quick is a stud, Scuderi is a rock, Kopitar is elite but needs a sniper, Richards is a gamer but still adapting, and Brown does not have a gear lower than 5. Then I watched them play hockey about as well as a brain surgeon with Parkinson’s for 82 games.
Should Kings’ fans be excited? At this point, they should be excited about their team no matter what happens.
For those that are following the Stanley Cup Playoffs closely, the most surprising thing that could happen now would be if the Kings lost another game. For the fans that already knew all of the above, they’d say that the most shocking thing that could happen is the Kings winning the most coveted prize in sports (I can’t even type it).
So don’t be surprised to see some disbelief where jubilation should be, if things go as many predict. And don’t be surprised to see a gracious ovation if they don’t.