By Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco
As I was watching the countdown to the Los Angeles King's first Stanley Cup Championship last night I couldn't help thinking. Who are these guys?
Where was "Cowboy" Flett? Where was Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, Daryl Evans and Bernie Nichols doing the "pumpernickel"? How come Roy Storey wasn't announcing? And why are the unis Black and silver? Where are the Gold and Purple uniforms? And why was this game being played at the Staples Center with over 18,000 rabid fans waving towels and singing "I Love LA"? Why wasn't this being played in front of a handful of people at the Fabulous Forum or the Sports Arena with a crowd so sparse that you can fire off a slapshot from the seats and be safe in knowing you could never hit anybody... with a real live organ being played in the background?
It wasn't easy growing up and being a Los Angeles Kings hockey fan in Southern California in the late 60's and early 70's. You would go to school and say "hey did you see that great save that Rogie made last night or, Did you see that goal by Marcel" and nobody would know what the heck you were talking about. Unless of course, you had friends like Chris Bretal and David Boos..the only other two kids at Nicholas Junior High in Fullerton other than myself who knew anything about the game of hockey and the Los Angeles Kings.
We were so much into hockey that we even organized a daily game on the tennis courts at lunch time. As you might have noticed there is not much ice in Fullerton, Orange County, California so we had to improvise. So we played without ice. One time, gasp, a couple kids were actually playing, of all things, tennis at lunch on the tennis courts so we had to move to one of the many asphalt basketball courts on campus. But we liked the tennis courts most because it was smooth concrete and most resembled the ice surface and the puck moved more like it does on ice.
David Boos had a goalie mask like Jacques Plante even down to the faux stitches on the plastic face. Every time he would take a slap shot to the face he would draw another stitch on the mask.
David and Chris had a few sticks so they would share with the rest of us. One time I was winding up to take a shot and I heard a crunch. I had broken one of Chris's sticks in half. I had to use my new Puma tennis shoes in place of the stick ala soccer style. This is where I quickly discovered Puma tennis shoes are not good for playing hockey and kicking pucks with. The first day I tried it, I went back to kick the puck and the whole sole of the shoe split off from the rest of the shoes.
Of course, as we played hockey we had to imitate the voice of the Kings.... Roy Storey. He was the announcer before the legendary Bob Miller began his run. Storey had this gravely excited voice and he would punctuate and annunciate everything. So we would be saying stuff like.. "He winds....He shoots.....He..Hit..the....Post!"
It seemed the Kings hit the post a lot in those days. I used to watch their games on a black and white TV on KTLA channel 5 ...which by the way is where I got the idea to have the Kings wear black and white instead of looking like the Los Angeles Lakers on skates. And because nobody wanted to see them play in other parts of the country they were never on the NBC Saturday Game of the Week with Tim Ryun announcing.
We always seemed to be a step slower than the team we were playing against like the Black Hawks or the Bruins or the Canadians or the Maple Leafs which I think were the only other teams in the league at the time....pretty close.
But no more. Today the Los Angeles Kings are finally....the Kings of Hockey!