Saturday, November 21, 2009

Revisiting a Rivalry - Flames vs. Kings

For fans that have only been following the Kings since their move downtown to Staples Center, today's game doesn't mean much. It's just one of those annoying Saturday afternoon games. For long time fans, a game versus the Flames stirs emotions from nearly 20 years ago when Calgary vs Los Angeles was a game that everybody circled on their calendar.

After the Kings traded for Gretzky in '88 things really started to heat up - even though Calgary fans already had issues with the Great One from his days in Edmonton and the scars left by The Battle of Alberta games. Once the playoffs rolled around after Wayne's first season in LA...well, it was on. The Kings were fresh off their first round win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Oilers, in 7 games. Unfortunately, the Kings lost to Calgary in the second round that year - while the Flames went on to win the Cup.

With a rivalry now in full swing it was inevitable the two teams would meet again in the playoffs the following year. Once again, the Kings defeated the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in the playoffs, dispatching the Flames and any thoughts they had of a repeat run. Perhaps even more memorable was Mike Krushelnyski's overtime goal in game six. It's one of those goals that will replayed forever...

The Kings went on to win the Smythe Division in 1990-91 and then made their own run to the Cup finals in '92-93. Along the way there were plenty of other memorable games vs the Flames, with lots of penalties...and some fines and suspensions too. There was the game where the penalty boxes were so full that Sandstorm had to sit on Luc's lap. In March of '91 Kings coach Tom Webster was suspended 4 games for an altercation with the Flames' Doug Gilmour. But, he was just getting warmed up. The following season Webster was suspended again, this time for 12 games, and fined $10k for throwing a stick at referee Kerry Fraser.

Then, there were the players. Long before there was ever a Sean Avery, there was the original pest - a diminutive man in height with a heart and drive like no other. Theo Fleury was the guy that everybody loved to hate. And then hate some more. If you went to those games at the Forum, you have to remember the lady that sat near the penalty box with her cowbell. If only she could have suited up for a game or two.

Today the Flames arrive in town with two of the best defenseman in the league - Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf. That's a blue line tandem the likes of which the Kings hope to repeat themselves in a few years with Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty.

Lastly, let's not forget Olli Jokinen. In 1997 he was the Kings first round draft pick and supposedly the future of the franchise. Just two years later - with the Kings about to move into Staples Center - he was sent packing for Ziggy Palffy. At the trade deadline last year Jokinen was again on the move, this time from Phoenix to Calgary.

Plenty of memories between two teams that are searching for a return to the playoffs this season. Perhaps come Spring, they'll meet again.

The Mayor

No comments:

Facebook Blogger Plugin: Bloggerized by Enhanced by

Post a Comment