By Meesh Shanmungam, Staff Writer | Follow him on Twitter
There is probably no moment in hockey as gratifying as watching your team’s captain lift the Stanley Cup. For Los Angeles Kings fans, this past June was even more special since it was the first Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history. The weeks that follow are a blur of joy. It begins with watching the highlights the next day, followed by a parade in the city a few days later. After a week or so, the reality sets in, your team has the ultimate claim to best team in the NHL for the foreseeable future and you couldn’t be happier about it.
What happens next though? How do you capitalize on these wonderful feelings? It can’t last forever, can it?
As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan who experienced this joy as a child in 1991 and 1992, and as an adult in 2009, I can tell you no, it will not last forever. Because of this harsh reality, it is imperative that Kings’ fans take advantage of their moment of glory for as long as possible. Here are some things to consider in maximizing your joy as the fan of a Cup Champion.
1) Find the Cup.
First and foremost, find the Stanley Cup in a non-hockey setting! For the past two months, players and team officials have been taking the most prized trophy in sports around to their homes and around the Los Angeles area. Hopefully you have found the chalice out and about by now, but if not, start targeting its locations before it’s too late! The Cup has only a few more days left touring Southern California area and there is something special about getting your picture with the Cup away from its normal settings.
In 2009, I was fortunate enough to be living near the Penguins’ Assistant GM at the time, Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher brought the Cup to a small café near my house and I had the opportunity to get my picture with it and kiss it (I guess I’ll never win it now). No staged picture can ever top that memory.
If you are unable to find the Cup in a non-hockey setting, there will still be plenty of chances for you to find it later still, so we’ll move on to the next step.
2) Buy memorabilia!
This seems like an obvious option, but with so many different options – what should you purchase? Personally, I bought a Penguins Stanley Cup t-shirt, a Stanley Cup Champions wall banner, and the official Stanley Cup DVD. I highly suggest the last one so you can relive the playoff run over and over again to your heart’s content. One thing I wish I would have gotten – the official jersey patch or a jersey from that season. Ironically, I did buy a Kings Jonathan Quick jersey this year and made sure to get the Cup patch as well to commemorate it. I would also suggest buying reprints of newspapers and magazines from the days following the Cup win as well. Still to this day, I open up a box of old newspapers from the 90’s and look through them every so often as I reminisce about some of the great Penguins’ teams of the past.
3) Plan for the Home Opener.
Unfortunately, this is a difficult one right now as the NHL and NHLPA continue to threaten to destroy everything we love so dearly. If you can afford it though, get tickets to the home opener. If you are unable to go to the game, you should at least DVR or record it. The opening night ceremonies are truly magical. The Kings have an added bonus of returning the exact same team from a year ago, which will make it even more special. From the normal opening night player introductions, to a video that will recap last season and the playoff run, to the unveiling of the Cup and the raising of a Stanley Cup Champions banner, opening night is unforgettable. Admittedly, I still watch videos of the 2009 opening night ceremonies for the Penguins and it still gives me chills.
4) Find the Cup AGAIN!
If you’ve seen the Cup already, hopefully you have noticed something is missing: the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Kings! The team will be engraved on the Cup at some point this month before the season starts (or is scheduled to start). As cool as it may be to see the Cup right now, it can’t beat a picture with you pointing to your team on the Cup. Of course, it’s also fun to see how the engraver may have screwed up your team on there as well. So once the season starts, find the Stanley Cup in absolutely any setting so you can see your team on there. Don’t forget to look for the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl as well, since both will often be with the Cup at any team sponsored events.
5) Temper Expectations.
Finally, a new season will start (supposedly). This will be a difficult season to handle since your team has a target on its back now. Many games will be magnified and compared to the previous season. You must remember that back to back Championships are rare. The last two teams to pull off the feat have been Pittsburgh in ’91-’92 and Detroit in ’97-’98. Therefore, limit your expectations. Remember that the goal is to make the playoffs (just like those 8th seeded Kings barely did), not to win the Stanley Cup in the regular season. The Kings are the defending Stanley Cup Champions, what more could you want in the regular season? Save the stress and panic for the postseason. The regular season will not go smoothly, but based on last season, that may be a good thing for the Kings.
Enjoy it, remember it, and repeat it until the playoffs: The Los Angeles Kings are the Stanley Cup Champions.