It was Saturday, April 27th, 2002. I bought the tickets off ebay and headed downtown with my college roommate (and hockey teammate!) who was in Los Angeles for the weekend visiting from Vermont. The Los Angeles Kings beat the visiting Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on goals by Jason Allison, Brad Chartrand and Bryan Smolinski. The Staples Center went wild and the Kings were headed back to Denver for a Game 7 of their 1st round series. It would be the last time I'd see playoff hockey in Los Angeles.
With the Calgary Flames losing to the Chicago Blackhawks today... the Los Angeles Kings are in the playoffs for the first time since April 29th, 2002. It's been 7 years, 11 months, and 7 days since the Los Angeles Kings were playoff bound. If you've followed this blog at all over the past 2 seasons... you'd know that I enjoy making fun of my favorite team... but today... after buying Half Season Seats for each playoff-less season since 2001-2002... I'm the proudest Los Angeles Kings fan around. Over the past decade I've sat through some of the worst players and some of the most heartbreaking collapses. And as a fan of this team for over 20 years, I've grown used to disappointment. But for one glorious Spring day in Los Angeles I can safely say... this team is going to the playoffs.
Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy said he'll feel most confident when there was a little "X" next to the Kings place in the standings. I said that I wouldn't feel confident until I was sitting in our seats for the first home playoff game. As sports fans... we tend to be over-dramatic but I can't even describe how amazing the feeling was last night when Half Season Ticket Holder Buddy and I were having a discussion on maybe getting something to eat before the first home playoff game. It almost felt like we were speaking a different language.
Don't remember what the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs feel like? Try these on for size:
And the intro to the greatest game I've ever watched on television. Wayne Gretzky's hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 during the Kings run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993.
The Los Angeles Kings are playoff bound. The Los Angeles Kings are playoff bound. I like the sound of that.