By Allan Muir
Maybe some people were just tired of waiting for the puck to drop.
Going by the generally nasty social media reaction to the Stanley Cup celebrations in Los Angeles, you'd have thought that the Kings had trotted out Gary Bettman wearing a Ducks jersey to justify the lockout and then had Snooki and Carl Lewis duet on the national anthem.
Look, I'm normally the cranky cynic. My general demeanor ensured that my kids could both spell and properly use "curmudgeon" in a sentence by the time they were in Grade 2.
But getting snarky about this? Come on, boys. Pretend for a moment that you remember what a big deal it is to win the Cup. Especially for the first time.
This was an event custom-made for an energized fan base that had waited 45 years to claim the prize. In the 17 minutes from Bob Miller's opening remarks until the banner reached the rafters, this was all goosebumps and good times with everyone but the hot dog vendors getting their hard-earned moment in the sun.
Surprisingly, it was light on Hollywood and heavy on heart. After a few season highlights and a tribute to David Courtney, the team's late PA announcer, the Kings were individually called onto the ice to receive their rings, a unique touch made possible by the delayed start to the season. The players -- including Anze Kopitar, whose knee injury kept him out of the game -- then lined up around the boards and took one last turn raising the Cup. As much criticism as it got online, it was a big hit at the Staples Center. Don't be surprised if this becomes a league-wide tradition.
Then came the banner, presented by franchise legends Marcel Dionne and Rogie Vachon, along with the family of Ana Marquez-Greene, one of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. The decision probably raised a few hackles, but it added a poignant touch to the proceedings. Watching Nelba Marquez-Greene briefly touch the hair of her beaming son Isaiah as they were introduced...that was a small, beautifully heart-breaking moment that any parent could feel right in their gut.
The game itself was, predictably, was about as much fun as the bill after a meal at Carnevino. The heavy-legged Kings were in preseason form, sloppy in transition and worse in their defensive coverage. It was all but over 14 minutes in when Michael Frolik snuck one by Jonathan Quick to give Chicago a 3-0 lead less than 15 minutes into the first. No surprise that NBC cut away from the eventual 5-2 Blackhawks win after the second period in several markets.
A downer, sure, but today wasn't about a game. It was a celebration of a season. And it was pretty much perfect.