Sunday, February 28, 2010

OLYMPICS: Forgotten King Steals Bronze From SlovaKings

Vancouver, BC - With five current or former LA Kings, the Slovakian national hockey team had a decisively royal feel to it throughout the Olympics.

Michal Handzus has scored 40 goals over the past two and half seasons for the Kings. Lubomir Visnovsky scored 70 goals with the crown on his chest and was arguably the Kings best defenseman over the last decade. Jozef Stumpel netted 76 goals between his time at the Forum and later Staples Center. Pavol Demitra posted an amazing 25 goals in just 58 games during the 2005-06 season in LA. Ziggy Palffy tallied 150 goals for the Kings after being acquired just prior to the team's move into Staples Center in the fall of 1999.

All were wearing the sweater of Slovakia at the 2010 Olympics.

Tonight they faced a Finish team led by Anaheim Ducks legend Teemu Selanne. His team also featured a guy who once wore a Kings sweater, albeit briefly.

Olli Jokinen was drafted third overall by the Kings at the 1997 NHL Draft, behind only Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. He made his debut with the Kings in 1998, playing 8 games. He came back the following season - the Kings final at the Forum in Inglewood - posting nine goals in 66 games. He scored in the final regular season game at the Forum and fans seemed to have something to look forward to as the team was about to move downtown.

Then, partially in an attempt to bring a 'star' to the team, he was dealt to the Islanders in the aforementioned deal that (ironically) brought Ziggy Palffy out west to Los Angeles.

After already beating Russia earlier in the week...and then pulling a major upset over the reigning Olympic champions from Sweden...Ziggy and the SlovaKings were looking to earn their first Olympic hockey medal.

Standing in their way was Teemu Selanne and Team Finland. Like Palffy, this was Selanne's last kick of the can on such a grand stage.

Demitra, who was within inches of scoring at the end of the semi-final game with Canada...and entered the game with the most points in the tournament...scored again in this game. Either he or Brian Rafalski of the U.S. have to be the Olympic MVP at this point.

With a 3-1 lead in the third period it seemed like the SlovaKings were well on their way to a bronze medal. It would be an incredible accomplishment for their entire country. It would also mean that all LA Kings players would return to SoCal with medals on their necks.

However, the 'other' former King - perhaps, the forgotten King - had other ideas.

Jokinen, scored two goals just minutes apart and Team Finland survived a last minute rush by the SlovaKings to earn the victory and the medal....denying Palffy the grand goodbye he so desperately sought.

What a sad ending to a memorable tournament for Zues, Lubo, Demitra, Stumpy and Palffy.

So close!

And for many of them, there won't be a next time.

The Mayor

For more Olympics coverage on MayorsManor - including some exclusive photos - simply type OLYMPICS in the search box near the top left corner of this page.

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