This essay is one of more than 20 nominations for SI's 2014 Sportsman of the Year. You can see all of this year's nominees here.
There were so many amazing things about the Kings playoff run that months later I still can’t wrap my head around it. Normally stats can be boring and repetitive, but here are some numbers that pinpoint just how incredible the Kings were this year.
The Kings were the first team in NHL history to:
• Play the maximum 21 games to get to the Stanley Cup Finals.
• Win three consecutive Game 7s on the road.
• Go 7-0 in playoff elimination games.
• Win three consecutive playoff games when trailing in a game by two goals.
• Win the Stanley Cup after playing 26 playoffs games.
That’s insane. Just incredible.
Being the best team in any professional sport is no small feat and there a million different things that go into winning, from timing to luck to having the right personnel. The thing that I think was so incredibly miraculous was the road that the Kings had to go down to win. They've played more playoff games over the last three years than any other team in the NHL but look at this year’s playoff run alone: Three Game 7s! You had the reverse sweep against the Sharks in the opening round. Then you had the series against the Ducks, which went seven games. Then came the Blackhawks and if you took a poll among hockey fans, Chicago was probably on the top of the list to win the Stanley Cup. At no point did you think the Kings had this. It was a consistent battle from the beginning of the playoffs until the end.
As a kid, I went to a lot of games at the Forum with one of my best friends. We would run around the arena to try to get loose pucks and hung out by the locker room to get autographs. She got married in Texas during the Finals and we watched the last game against the Rangers at a bar during her welcome dinner for the weekend. Everyone just went to the bar and I watched the Kings win the Cup with about 40 other Kings fans. It was great, even though I wish I could have been there.
When you look at team effort and everything a team has to do to win, I don’t see any team beating the L.A. Kings for SI's Sportsman of the Year. I’m sure Joel McHale will talk his Legion Of Boom with the Seahawks and they are impressive. But what the Kings had to do to get where they did just doesn’t happen in sports. It was the most impressive team effort I've ever seen in sports.
Colin Hanks plays Minnesota cop Gus Grimly on the FX series, Fargo. He was recently nominated for a best supporting actor Emmy in a miniseries.