Sunday, February 7, 2010


Different teams elicit different feelings and emotions from fans and players alike. When the schedule comes out every July we all have a handful of teams we rush to circle. Some teams you secretly cheer for when the Kings aren't playing, some you love to hate and some you actually do hate. Call it the 'amp-factor' - as in how amped you get for that particular game.

Anaheim is an obvious one, given the geography of the rivalry.

Ditto for San Jose. Although Phoenix is about the same distance from LA, yet any sort of rivalry between the Coyotes-Kings pales in comparison to the Sharks-Kings. And it's always been that way, so go figure. Perhaps that's remnants of the Dodgers-Giants or SoCal-NoCal thing.

Other teams come and go, largely based upon how they've done in recent years. There was a time when the Rangers coming to town was one of THE games. It hasn't been that way in a long, long time.

The Av's were a big game six or seven years ago, not as much the last two or three.

I remember the Blackhawks being big games back at the Forum, not so much at Staples.

Edmonton and Calgary - well, I'm not sure anything will ever match the raw emotion of the games with those two teams from about 1990-1993.

Nashville, Columbus, Atlanta, etc. - I'd probably get more amped to see the Kings play the Barnes&Noble All Stars.

Which brings us to Detroit.

After play on the ice - which has to be the number one criteria - two other things usually help shape my feelings about a team and my 'amp' level for playing them (in no particular order)...

One, how do the fans of that team represent their club? I'm all for some good smack talk. However, I have little tolerance for 'rude for the sake of being rude' and/or unintelligent verbal attacks. If you have something original, you get major props from me. If you just say dumb things like "How many Stanley Cups do you have?" - well, you pretty much need to go back to kindergarten son because you don't have the chops to fight your way out of a paper bag on a rainy day. You're mouth is bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Which somewhat dovetails into my second criteria - how the team's players interact with me in the tunnel at Staples Center plays a major role in my amp-factor. If they 'get it' and can 'give it' in return, mucho respect.

Based on the above, the Detroit Red Wings have long been a game I circle on the calendar. It's too easy to respect them just because they've been good. I'm looking for something more.

I've been fortunate enough to see the Kings play on the road in nearly every NHL city (and some cities that don't even have teams anymore, like Winnipeg). Much to my surprise, Detroit was one of my favorite road games. The fans there were absolutely some of the best - nothing like the Motor City fans who show up to Staples Center. The fans in Detroit were constantly coming up to me (and the others in my group) wanting to talk hockey, swap stories, give us tips on what to do in the city, etc. It was amazing. Total class acts - every single person we came into contact with. Class.

Sidebar - the highlight of that trip - well, there were two...first, the Kings were being dominated by Detroit and entered the third period down 3-1...LA came back to score four unanswered goals on Chris Osgood to win the game 5-3 (and yes, even after that happened the fans were still cool to us as we left the building)...

The second highlight that night was with about two minutes left in the game Chris Chelios (somebody I've had numerous verbal exchanges with through the years) is sitting on the bench...and for reasons I still don't understand, he inexplicably turns around and starts looking at people in the crowd...when his eyes pass my seat he quickly snaps his head back (like you would see in a movie), doing a double take...

In less than a second you can see the look on his face as he realizes he recognizes his old nemesis, even though the setting is wrong - we're in Detroit, not LA...he smiles, then chuckles...and before I can even say anything, stands up and hands me his 20 years I've never seen a player give his stick away while the game is still going part about it though - I'm wearing my Kings jersey (of course) and I'm surrounded by an entire section of red and white clad Wings fans...all of their jaws hit the floor...priceless!

Back to my criteria - interactions with the players. So many heated games between the Kings-Wings over the last 10 years have provided numerous opportunities to have some, discussions...with Wings players as they pass between the tunnel and bench at Staples. Many have been classy - that list doesn't include Federov and Krupp, but we'll save that story for a different day.

Saturday afternoon provided one of the funnier interactions. Osgood has been heckled for years by Kings fans - and fans around the league, even including those in Detroit.

He was backing up Howard yesterday, so there was at least a possibility of some conversation. I started with the easy stuff. You know, asking him to get me a beer since he wasn't doing anything else. He says "I would, but I'd drink it before I made it back - and I'm not allowed to drink in uniform." So I ask for a pizza because I'm hungry. He lets me know he'll "need some money for the food" because he doesn't "run errands for free." Let me reiterate, it's all light weight stuff at this point, nothing serious.

Next thing you know we're talking stats, he's offering me an update on Cheli's play in the AHL this year (apparently he knew I'd care), etc. Then, during a stoppage in play, when nobody else was really listening, he started asking me about the Kings play of late. He was asking genuine questions, showing real interest in how they've been playing recently and if this team is for real.

It was the strangest conversation.

Then on the drive home I started laughing and wondered -was it really that strange? The Red Wings were just about to fall out of my top tier of teams to get hyped about. Let's face it, they're on the way down and probably wont be winning their division again anytime soon due to the rise of the Blackhawks. Yet, here was Osgood - without knowing it - giving me a pseudo subliminal reminder of one of the reasons I respect them so much. Some of their guys get it.

Respect. It goes both ways.

The Mayor


  1. Awesome post.. I've not read your board until DB posted about it on HBuzz.. didn't even know you were around.. Great stuff..


  2. Great post until the last paragraph where you claim the Wings are on the way down and won't win the division again anytime soon. It's pretty contradictory that you would say that but also say "Respect. It goes both ways." You should probably take a quick peak at the standings for this year. The Wings lead the division.