… This is for the current team, the team that has never stopped working, the team that has saved their best for last. This is for the fans, the die-hards who’ve waited for so many years and have never received their just due, from the rest of the hockey World or from the media in their own city. This is for the alumni, the greats of the past who toiled mostly in obscurity while wearing strange uniforms and taking plane trips of over 1200 miles to play against their nearest geographical rivals.
For Jonathan Quick, the athletic dynamo who has elevated his game to an elite perch, endearing himself to far more fans and observers than any other Kings’ player. For Jonathan Bernier, the one who has always done what the club has asked him to do without ever complaining, patiently acting as the ever-capable insurance policy should disaster strike.
For Anze Kopitar, the ultra-versatile maestro who has used the entire two hundred by eighty-five sheet of ice as his stage to dazzle and dominate. For Dustin Brown, the Captain, the man who brings the most unique collection of abilities to the club, the man who, like his club, peaked at exactly the most appropriate time. For Justin Williams, the one who persevered through all of the injuries, the one who always brought confidence and creativity to the front and backed it up with maximum effort.
For Slava Voynov, who waited for the chance to display his innate ability at the highest level in the World, showing all of us merely the beginning of what is to come in future years. For the ageless Willie Mitchell! Mitchell, the seasoned, battered warrior who put together one of his finest seasons in yet another attempt at finally reaching the Promised Land, the one who has paid every possible due in full.
For Dustin Penner, the man who took it all in stride, meeting his detractors with good humor and self-deprecation, the man who rose from the canvas of the early season to playoff supremacy. For Mike Richards, the man who didn’t let the slump in the middle of the season affect his psyche nor his intelligent and savvy approach to every shift. For Jeff Carter, the one who provided the final piece of the puzzle, the one who gave the club the ability to achieve its remarkable balance.
For Drew Doughty, the magnificent prodigy who navigated his way past difficult matters off the ice and restored the belief he had in himself as well as the belief from all those who bore witness to him. For Rob Scuderi, the unflappable rock who led by example, not just with his reliable play but with the dignity and poise he carried himself with around others.
For Dwight King, the one who progressed so much from last season to this one, providing the club with timely bonus offense, the kind of production required by any team who desires to win it all. For Jarret Stoll, the most unselfish player on the team, for willingly sacrificing much of his offense and his future value on the market in order to fill a desperately needed role on the club. For Trevor Lewis, the man who never stopped hustling, never gave anything less than his absolute best, and never got discouraged when the offensive rewards weren’t forthcoming.
For Matt Greene, the toughest player on the team, the one who found the happy medium between all-out physical intensity and the proper mental focus. For Alec Martinez, the man who stepped right into a regular role as if he’d had it for over a decade, the man intelligent enough to know the proper play and skilled enough to execute it.
For Brad Richardson and Kyle Clifford, the heroes of last year’s playoffs, who accepted lesser roles – even if they may not have understood why those roles had changed. For Kevin Westgarth, the permanently positive enforcer. For Davis Drewiske, the man who fulfilled the excruciating slot of seventh defenseman and always kept himself ready, just in case. For Simon Gagne, the one who never lost sight of the light at the end of his season’s dark tunnel. For Andrei Loktionov, the young player who continued to progress, the player who very likely will see better and more productive days in the near future.
This is for Bob Miller. The living legend and Hall of Famer, who humbly maintained his excellence even when the team on the ice did not, the man who brought so many fans to the Kings’ fold and continues to keep them there. For Nick Nickson, the steady voice who, for decades, painted the picture for those who could only listen. For Jim Fox and Daryl Evans, the purple and gold Kings, the men who retained and passed along the optimism and passion of their playing days and never lost sight of the great dream.
For Darryl Sutter, the man who was brought in to right a ship close to sinking, the man who understood and utilized his talent, the man who found the way to mold it into a cohesive team which mirrored his own personal aggressiveness. For Terry Murray, the coach who provided the foundation for future success, even as the team of the present was unsuccessful, the consummate pro who willingly offered to scout for the team he once coached. For Dean Lombardi, the one who didn’t give up on what looked for all the World like a lost season, and made the deal that turned everything around. For Tim Leiweke, the man I personally don’t have to hate anymore.
But – most of all, it is for YOU. It is your moment. You have earned this. You deserve this. It is all yours. It will be written into the sacred parchment of history, memorialized for all time. No one will ever be able to take this away from you. You will be able to die in peace, knowing that moment of complete ecstasy when something you’ve loved and devoted so much of your time and money has achieved the pinnacle of accomplishment. Never will you have to wonder what it’s like, utilize your imagination or your dreams, or live vicariously through others. You will know. You will ALWAYS know. You will know the love and joy shared by your fellow fans, your brethren. You will walk together forever with them, with US.
It is a long time in coming. And it is all for you.