The LA Kings have grown up and become an elite franchise

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LA Kings Ice Girls barry melrose

There’s so much to do in Los Angeles. Better things to do than go to cold indoor hockey games. You know it. The LA Kings know it.

But the idea that doesn’t matter anymore. The LA Kings have put to rest the idea that you can’t build a solid, successful NHL franchise in a place where you have warm, sunny beaches year round. The LA Kings went up 1-0 in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, and I have no doubt that they’ll finish the New York Rangers off. If they do, it will be their second Stanley Cup in three years. They’ve already won the conference four times in the past 20 years. Not many franchises can say that.

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The LA Kings used to be known for:

-having colors and insignia worn by L.A. gang members during the height of the 90s gangsta rap era

-an owner who was the corporate criminal of all corporate criminals, a white collar version of a gangsta rapper

-over-paying for the greatest player of all time Wayne Gretzky.

But that’s all changed.

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Wednesday, ESPN’s top pairing of hockey experts, Barry Melrose and Steve Levy joined the media for a conference call, previewing the 2014 Stanley Cup Final. So for all the hockey zealots that think ESPN hates the NHL…well, they did this conference call, and they devoted “Outside The Lines” to the Cup Final. I think the WWL covers hockey as much as the market demands. Obviously, it’s not their focus, but I don’t see a huge groundswell of online interest that would command a huge increase in NHL coverage.

The progression and development of the LA Kings was a topic that came up.

BARRY MELROSE: :”I love the fact that they went back to the black and gray jerseys. I really love that. They got away from it with the purple and stuff for a while, and they experimented with a lot of different jerseys. So they got back to the Gretzky silver and black. I think that’s awesome.

You know what? I saw L.A. in the 90s when we were in the finals, and the Forum was rocking; the city was crazy. My wife and I would go to a restaurant at night and walk in and the place would start clapping. That doesn’t happen unless it’s a hockey town.

People could say that, ‘Well, you can’t win in the south, you can’t win if it’s not hockey weather.’ I always said if you come out after practice and it’s 80 degrees and sunny, that’s a good thing, that’s not a bad thing.”

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“I’m just glad that team that I had in ’93 had a small part — with Gretzky and Robitaille and all the great players we had on that team — it sort of laid the groundwork and showed everyone that you can win in the south and the sunny areas.

And now this team, led by Darryl Sutter, has taken it full circle and now is one of the best organizations in the NHL, and one of the best franchises in the NHL.
Yeah, it’s fun to see people I dealt with and worked with, and come back here and see STAPLES Center packed and see downtown L.A. You know, downtown L.A. is a vibrant place now, built around the STAPLES Center and all the other stuff here.”

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So, it’s great; the outdoor game and everything. It’s great to see what L.A. has become.

I couldn’t agree more. Today the LA Kings are known for:

-Winning, being a powerhouse

-a local media that is too ignorant to appreciate them. (see the tv stations that used Sacramento Kings logos for the LA Kings, and referred to the team as “having the ball” during highlights)

-Having the greatest official Twitter account. Perhaps the only great team account, in all of sports.

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STEVE LEVY: “Barry is too modest to say, but he’s beloved in every hockey city we go to, with the exception of maybe Newark, New Jersey. But other than that, he gets extra love here in Los Angeles. So many people come up to him and say they first fell in love with the Kings with obviously Wayne Gretzky and with Barry’s ’93 team that went to the Stanley Cup final.

And that’s what it takes, right. It takes some success, that gets people into the game, and that’s how you really, really develop a long?term fan base. Obviously winning takes care of the rest. But you should see the reaction people have, still to Barry. ’93, that’s 21 years ago, that’s a long time, but people have long and fond memories of Barry.”

Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a frequent guest on talk radio stations across the world. Banks has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including NFL.com, Forbes, Bleacher Report, Deadspin, ESPN, the Washington Times, NBC and The History Channel. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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