Los Angeles waited 45 years for its first Stanley Cup so when the L.A. Kings captured hockey’s top trophy the townsfolk gathered there in the arena on Monday night went crazy!
The city’s love affair with the Kings began about the time that Wayne Gretzky, the Great One, stepped onto the ice in 1988. His time with the team coincided nearly exactly to the years my son, Marshall, spent as a young boy in Los Angeles. In fact, Marshall’s early interest in the sport, at age 4 and nurtured by his grandmother,was what introduced my family to ice hockey. To say that he was “interested” in hockey is an understatement. Passionate is more accurate. He still has years worth collecting of hockey cards to prove it, as well as a love of the game that continues today even though he no longer plays.
Marshall was like a lot of kids in Los Angeles at that time who became excited about a fast-paced, hard-hitting, highly skilled sport that was taking the city by storm. A large part of hockey’s popularity in a city where it seldom snows was due to the invention of roller blades. Kids no longer needed ice to play, not with all the parking lots available throughout town. Teens, like our babysitter, Andy, for example, would leave his evening job with us about 11 p.m. and head directly to the Target parking lot just in time for a pick up hockey game with friends.
Our son too started in roller hockey, playing in organized leagues that faced off in parking lots as well as in local rinks. But when we made the move north to Bellingham, he switched to ice hockey so that he could play with the local minor league team, the only one in the country that plays an entire schedule against Canadian teams just across the border. He was no Gretzky, or even Luc Robitaille who was his favorite Kings player at the time, but he became an accomplished player ending up among the top ranking high school players in the Western U.S. and Canada.
During Marshall’s hockey playing years (our son, Tim, also played for a short time), my husband and I learned a lot about hockey and are now avid fans. I also learned how to shoot the games while the boys were shooting pucks. I now take my trusty point and shoot with me to most of the Canucks games and manage to capture some pretty amazing images with it, despite it’s limitations.
Marshall’s hung up his hockey sticks for now, trading them for drumsticks, but he continues to be a big fan of the game, as does our entire family, and joins us whenever he can for Vancouver Canucks’ games. Even though our loyalty to the Kings isn’t as strong since our relocation, we were thrilled by the team’s win on Monday. I even wore my old Kings sweater as I watched the televised games. So a hearty congratulations to the Kings. Maybe next year it will be the Canucks turn…..