As I have been saying since the Kings first won it all in 2012, the Kings really should bring the Stanley Cup to their original home here in Long Beach. And since their motto this past championship season was “We Are All Kings,” I’m thinking this might be the summer that Stanley comes to the LBC.
And let’s say the team, in an unprecedented move, tapped me for suggestions on where to bring the Cup. I would be moved to tears. After all, the Stanley Cup is THE most important trophy in the history of professional sports in North America.
So after I get the call from President of Hockey Operations Luc Robitaille, I would immediately call all my friends and set up a date: Oct. 14. Why that day? Because that was the date of the first game in Kings history, played at the Long Beach Arena. Duh.
Since the season will be less than a week old, I’m pretty sure the Cup will have found its way back to Toronto. So we would have to have Cup handler Philip Pritchard fly the trophy through Long Beach Airport.
Recently named one of the top 10 most beautiful airports in the world (according to the BCC) and one of the top terminals in 2014 (according to Fodors), the Long Beach Airport would be a perfect place to greet Lord Stanley’s chalice. A few photo ops then we’d be off to the obligatory trip to City Hall.
After letting the new mayor Robert Garcia and the rest of City Hall heap praise on the Hockey Hall Of Fame for finally recognizing Long Beach as the original home of the Stanley Cup champion L.A. Kings, we’d take a short trip down to the Long Beach Arena.
Since there’s nothing planned for the arena for that entire month, I’d request some ice be thrown down, with a vintage Kings crown right at center ice. Then I’d have remaining members of the inaugural Kings squad skate around with current members of Kings with the Cup. Eddie Joyal, Lowell MacDonald, Ted Irvine, Wayne Rutledge et al would all get their turn, as they took turns around the ice. It would truly be a sight to behold.
After a short ceremony raising a commemorative banner to the rafters of Long Beach Arena, we be off on a short trip across the parking lot to the finish line of the Long Beach Grand Prix. For 51 weeks out of the year, the checkered finish line across Shoreline Drive is virtually ignored by everyone. Not so on this day, as traffic is stopped up so the Cup can be brought to the ending of one of the world’s top street racing circuits.
Heck, let’s invite two-time and (and fellow defending ) champion of the LBGP, Mike Conway, come on down and snap some pics with other legendary LB racers Mario Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Paul Tracy, and Sébastien Bourdais and the Cup.
It would be around lunchtime by my estimation, and while there is no shortage of pubs, bars and restaurants to choose from, I would walk the Cup through the swinging doors at 2803 E Anaheim Street. That’s right, I’d take the Cup to one of Long Beach’s oldest watering holes: Joe Jost’s.
My entourage would partake of several schooners of ice-cold beer and Joe Specials all around. Heck, I’d even get the Keeper of the Cup to join me for a pickled egg or two. After all, where else would you take the greatest trophy in all of sports but to a place where the beer is COLDER than the ice at Staples.
After replenishing ourselves, it would be time to head on back to my neck of the woods. After all, I would want to grab my jersey before heading to Staples Center to see the Kings take on the Oilers. But before we make the trip to L.A., I would take it to a small court located at El Dorado Park.
While this converted tennis court holds no real tie to the Kings, it holds special significance to my friends and I. Back in 1993, when the Kings were at the their previous height of popularity in SoCal, my friends and I started playing roller hockey on weekends during that summer.
This tiny patch of concrete, adjacent to a basketball court, was our home rink. We couldn’t afford the high prices at an ice rink (plus there really wasn’t one near all of us.) We’d set up milk crates and throw in sticks. We skated around in our Rollerblades for hours, just playing. Goals were scored, bones were broken, but most importantly, fun was had. Every weekend.
This would be the part of the video montage where the Tornadoes (the name of our roller hockey team) would play one last game of pickup hockey, then take turns skating around with the Cup. Just us.
Afterwards, we would head back to my house. Not for a party, but to play video games. NHL ’94 to be exact. There wouldn’t even be a discussion. We’d have an impromptu tournament, with the winner getting to drink out of the Cup.
After those shenanigans, we’d head to Staples to watch the Kings take on Edmonton. Topping off the ultimate day, we witness Los Angeles drop some coilers on the Oilers.
October 14th: Bash at the Beach! Let’s make it happen, Luc. Gimme a call. I already have asked for the day off in anticipation. Who’s with me?