Last year while at the airport in Frankfurt, I got talking to a Russian father and son who now live in Los Angeles but were traveling back to the old country for a visit. The son, who was about 16, didn’t want to talk about Russia at all though. All he wanted to talk about was his favourite team, the Los Angeles Kings.
And you know what struck me? The fact that unless you live in California, there are probably very few LA Kings fans out there. I’m pretty sure about this. This kid was going on about his favourite player, Alexander Frolov, and it just seemed slightly odd, that’s all.
The Kings were in the very first group of six teams in the 1967-68 expansion that saw the league double from six to twelve teams. They were joined by the California Seals, Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and St. Louis Blues.
Along the way, there’s been some sorts of interest involving this team. In the late ’70’s, early’80’s, the line of Marcel Dionne, Charley Simmer, and Dave Taylor were a top line in the league. In 1988, Wayne Gretzky was traded from Edmonton to LA, which sparked interest in hockey in southern California. And later on, owner Bruce McNall did time in prison for shady business deals.
But no Stanley Cups. Just a lot of sunburns, golfing, Hollywood parties, and pretty darn good crowds at the Staples Center, or Fabulous Forum, or whatever name they’ve used over the years.
Now today, March 8th, the Habs are in town for a game which is big for them but not so much for the Kings, who don’t have a sniff at a playoff spot. Hopefully though, the young Russian fellow will have his ticket and cheer like crazy for his team.