Category Archives: Hockeywood History

It’s time! Bring the Stanley Cup to Long Beach!

Minnesota North Stars goalie Gary Baumann sprawls awkwardly on ice at Long Beach Arena after narrowly deflecting goal attempt (arrow to puck) by Los Angeles Kings last night. Kings clicked five other times against Baumann, however, for 5-3 victory--their second in as many NHL outings on the West Coast. Photo dated: October 16, 1967.  (Milton Martinez, Herald Examiner)

The Stanley Cup has once again been raised in Los Angeles after the Kings tore down the Rangers in five games. And Lord Stanley’s chalice will soon start it’s storied tour around the Southland.

In 2012, it made it to Chavez Ravine and it visited the Coliseum. It’s even found its way to the Fabulous Forum. But there’s one place that the Cup has not been yet, and I’m a little bummed about it.

When the 1967-68 season kicked off, the Forum wasn’t quite finished yet. So the team scrambled to find an alternate venue, so they made their NHL debut at the Long Beach Arena on Saturday, Oct. 14 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Brian KilreaIn front of 7,035 people, the Kings found themselves down 2-0 to the Flyers when center scored early in the second round for the club’s first goal, with assists going to Jacques Lemieux and Ted Irvine.

This sparked the team in the third period, when Bob Wall, Gord Labossiere and Kilrea’s second of the game lifted the Long Beach Kings over the fellow expansion team Flyers for their first NHL victory.

Continue reading It’s time! Bring the Stanley Cup to Long Beach!

THI: David Courtney interview

David CourtneyLike many Kings fans, I was floored when I found out about the loss of Kings announcer David Courtney.

Much has been written about the meaning of longtime L.A. sports media personalities like Vin Scully, Chick Hearn and Bob Miller. For my money, you’d have to include David in that conversation.

In addition to being the longtime voice of the Kings, he was also the voice of the Angels when they won the World Series in 2002. Being the announcer for TWO world championships in TWO different sports has to account for something, right?

Back in 2010, Jesse Cohen and I interviewed David for The Hockeywood Insider podcast, and we were amazed to learn about the influence he had back in 1989, when The Wayner came to L.A. He also had a hand in designing the Chevy logo and jerseys.

This season, I was going to ring David again, to get his impression of the team finally winning the Stanley Cup. Alas, we won’t be able to have that conversation. The next best thing I can do is share our conversation from 2010.

L.A. Kings Stories: More stories

Pete DemersWant to see Bob Miller sing to National Anthem (badly?). It’s here.

Ever wonder if the usually stoic Rogie Vachon ever lost his cool? He sure did.

With all his accomplishments, did Wayne Gretzky ever record a Gordie Howe hat trick?

Ever seen Marcel Dionne, Rogie Vachon and Bernie Geoffrion perform the Crystals’ Da Do Run Run on Canadian TV?

Well, you can say you have now. The final chapter in the Kings documentary, L.A. Kings Stories, comes to a close with short vignettes that could find a spot elsewhere in the DVD.

Now that I’ve finally posted this last video, I can focus on my next project for the site. I hope you like these videos and learned something from them. The Kings might get a lot of flack from other hockey fans (especially back East), but this doc is proof that there’s plenty of stories surrounding the franchise.

L.A. Kings Stories: A New Era and Hockey is Tradition

Luc RobitailleThe Kings documentary, L.A. Kings Stories, comes to a close with these two segments. The first of which deals with the (then) new ownership of the Kings, spearheaded by Philip Anschutz. The Denver-based billionaire, who recently rose three spots on the Forbes 300 list, has truly been the saving grace of the franchise, after buying the team out of bankruptcy.

The thing that the average fan doesn’t understand was just how bad things were for the Kings, post-Bruce McNall. Three owners in three years, players unsure of whether they would get paid, Bob Miller looking into working in Phoenix when his contract was up (Bob Miller calling Coyotes games?!? Are you kidding me?)…. It truly was bad times, until things were finally solidified by Tim Leiweke and AEG.

Any good movie has to have a montage, and this doc has one. It takes a look back at 38 years of the Kings (the DVD came out in 2006) with voiceovers from everyone involved in the project: Wayne Gretzky, Bob Miller, Rogie Vachon, Marty McSorley, et al. It’s a fitting ending to the documentary, which should be included in every fan’s required viewing.

L.A. Kings History: Reaching the finals

PhotobucketThe next part of this phenomenal documentary showcases the highest point the franchise has ever risen, the 1993 Stanley Cup.

The seven-game series against Toronto, which Jimmy Fox called the “hardest-hitting, most vicious seven game series” he has even seen. They recall the story in the Canadian newspaper that said Gretzky was playing with a piano on his back, which prompted him to go out and score a hat trick.

Bob Miller recalls the rush of finally reaching the Stanley Cup. It still gives me goose bumps seeing Gretzky gathering up Dave Taylor and Luc Robitaille to celebrate winning the Norris Trophy and Luc planting a big kiss on Taylor’s cheek.

For many current Kings fans, this was the time many jumped on the Kings bandwagon. And over the years, many of those fair weather fans have jumped off.  But for those who remain tied to this franchise, it’s the sole reminder of what it felt like to finally reach the championship series.

L.A. Kings History: The Great One

PhotobucketNext up revolves around the biggest trade in professional sports, the Wayne Gretzky trade.

While it’s true that the franchise has existed since 1968, and is rich with its own history and memorable characters, you cannot deny the Great One’s effect on hockey in Los Angeles… in Southern California… heck, in the western United States. In the first chapter of today’s video, Bob Miller recollects how he found out about the team’s plans to unveil Gretzky, Nick Nickson talks about what happened when Wayne had his final conference in Edmonton, and Marty McSorley recalls being part of the trade. It’s a pretty good recap of the events that has been endlessly reported on.

Just know this: I don’t not own any of this footage. I’m bringing it for all Kings fans, and hockey fans in general, to get a better understanding of what it’s like being a fan of the Los Angeles Kings.

L.A. Kings History: The Triple Crown Line and Two Miracles

Dave TaylorPart 3 of the Kings retrospective is also the longest. I could’ve split them up, since both define the Kings early history. But this is the real meat of the documentary, and I feel should be required viewing for all new Kings fans to show that there was a team here before Gretzky got here.

The Triple Crown Line is the first feature, and is related to the previous entry about Marcel Dionne. It should be noted that the doc was created before Luc Robitaille had retired, become the VP of Business Ops for the team and brought Marcel back into the fold as a Royal Ambassador. So, a lot of the recollections are from Bob Miller and Dave Taylor (who was still general manager at the time of the recording). But it doesn’t take away from the great footage or stories about the line. Taylor, Dionne and Charlie Simmer were simply one of the best lines in hockey.

The second part revolves around the Miracle on Manchester and the 1982 Stanley Cup playoff series between the Triple Crown Line and the Kings and Wayne Gretzky and the Oilers. Again, this should be required viewing as it’s a definitive breakdown of how the Miracle on Manchester was played, complete with clear video and recollections from Miller, Taylor, Nick Nickson, Mark Hardy, Jim Fox and Daryl Evans. Also thoughts of Game 5 and how the Kings performed a second miracle, which was the 8th-ranked Kings knocking off the No. 1 seeded Oilers in the first round of the playoffs.

Finally, I remind everyone that I did not produce this video nor do I own the rights to the video. It is from an out-of-print DVD that was never made available for sale. I just want to allow all Kings fans able to enjoy the documentary, as it is tremendous.

L.A. Kings History: Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne

Rogie VachonHere is part two of the great L.A. Kings Stories documentary. Please note once again that I do not own the footage, it’s far too good to be produced by some amateur videographer. (Although, I am particularly fond of Michal Handzus dancing to The Ed Lover Dance song from MTV Raps.)

 In this video, two of my selections of the Kings’ Mount Puckmore, goaltender Rogie Vachon and center Marcel Dionne, are featured. I borrowed some of the footage for my video tribute to the Mount Puckmore feature.

Vachon talks about his trade to Los Angeles, and the makeup of those early teams in Los Angeles. He also talked about his mask and how comfortable is wasn’t. And there is some great archival footage of Rogie playing back in the day.

The chapter on Dionne should hopefully shed some light on just how important he was to the league B.G. (Before Gretzky). Remember, he was third all-time leading scorer in the history of the league when he played in L.A. And the footage of Marcel playing hopefully gives you a glimpse of just how effortless it was for him.

The one thing many fans said when I wrote about the Kings’ Puckmore was my inclusion of one or both of these guys. To those fans, I can only say there was hockey before The Great One got here, and these two guys are, without question, two cornerstones upon which the franchise was built on over the years.

L.A. Kings History: Bob Miller and Jack Kent Cooke

The Kings' icon Bob MIllerNow that Hockey Fest is over, and everyone’s appetite has been whetted for more puck, I decided to dig up an old DVD that was given out a few seasons ago by a credit card company at Staples Center that was a tremendous documentary.

But it was never made available for commercial sale, which is shocking. The production value is top-notch (way better than my crappy vlog previews) and there are some great interviews with such personalities as Wayne Gretzky, Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer and others. I have seen copies available on eBay for sale, as much as $40 bucks.

But I think that’s just wrong. This was given out, not sold. Everyone should have access to this doc, which is further proof of what a rich history the Kings have.

I’m going to unveil a couple chapters at a time, to keep you coming back for more. The first video I am posting has two short features. The first one is on Kings icon Bob Miller (whose operation on Friday went off without a hitch. Get well soon, Bob!) and how he got his job as play-by-play man for the Kings. It leads into the second feature, which is on the Kings’ first owner, Jack Kent Cooke.

After learning about Cooke’s mandate that the phone must be picked up on the second ring, I feel inspired. The two-ring rule should be brought back. How many times have you tried to call a business, only to have the phone ring and ring and ring? Then again, working in the newsroom, we let the phone ring all the time. Who wants to talk to readers?

At any rate, it’s a great documentary, so I hope you enjoy it.