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Los Angeles Kings Capture Their First Stanley Cup


At last the Los Angeles Kings are Stanley Cup champions. NBC's Mike Emrick had the call last night.


MIKE EMRICK: For the first time in their 45 year history, a Stanley Cup for Los Angeles. The Kings are the kings.


MONTAGNE: The Kings beat the New Jersey Devils last night 6-1 to win the Stanley Cup, four games to two. NPR's sports reporter Mike Pesca is with us to give us a play-by-play.

Good morning.

MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: I don't know if I could do the whole play-by-play, but I'll try.

MONTAGNE: OK. Well, we don't have a whole lot of time here, but let's start by asking how big of a deal is this.

PESCA: Well, I'll tell you. I'm sitting here in New York City, sometimes known as Newark East, quasi-Devils country. But you're in L.A. You tell me. What are you seeing there?

MONTAGNE: Well, I was sitting - I'm sitting here looking at the L.A. Times and it - with a huge headline - L.A.'s New Royalty - huge pictures of these bearded guys in black holding their Stanley Cup. It's a huge, huge deal. Stuff like - stuff in the paper like, you know, read it to believe it, and the most popular puck in town in no longer Wolfgang.

PESCA: That's a good thing with the Kings, a lot of good puns are available. So I'll say this. It's a huge deal. Obviously when a franchise that's been around for a long time - it went and traded for Gretzky and tried to establish themselves - won the Stanley Cup, that's wonderful. Hey, they're on the front page.

The cautionary tale maybe is the Anaheim Ducks, who won in 2007 and now they're in the bottom half of the league in attendance. In fact, warm weather cities have this trend - the Tampa Bay Lighting, Carolina Hurricanes - they do well, they're very excited and then they drop to the lower half of the league in attendance. Dallas Stars, however, had a nice run, and so maybe L.A. will be able to do that, to build on their momentum.

MONTAGNE: Well, OK, but, Mike, let's go back to the exciting part, which is last night's game. High scoring affair. Six goals in hockey is a lot. So tell us about it.

PESCA: Well, there was really one huge play of the game. And this was series that had two great goalies and it was always so low scoring. But 10 minutes into the game, Steve Bernier of the Devils committed a pretty atrocious penalty, a boarding penalty. He just ran Rob Scuderi into the boards. Scuderi was down and he was bleeding. And the referees penalized him appropriately. He got a game misconduct and a five minute penalty.

Now, in hockey, the minor infractions - the high stickings, the hookings - that's two minutes. And if you score on the ensuing power play, then teams are at even strength. But with a five minute major penalty, score as much as you want, and that's - or can. And that's exactly what the Kings did. They netted three goals. Game was over. First period, that's it. The Devils were not coming back.

MONTAGNE: Well, what does this all mean ultimately for Los Angeles and hockey? Can - you know, do you see it taking root here finally?

PESCA: It's very tough, I find, because the league expanded into the Sunbelt and into warm weather cities. And I you look right now there are nine warm weather teams and eight are in the lower half of - in attendance. I just think it's very hard for a fan base to get behind a game that they themselves can't play, that they didn't grow up playing. But the Kings can be the exception. Like I said, the Dallas Stars had a good run at that sort of idea a few years ago.

MONTAGNE: Well, OK, but you talk about the fans didn't play, but you see a lot of warm weather, what did you call it, asphalt hockey, at the beach.

PESCA: That's true. It's a good activity and, you know, fun recreation. It's just nothing like what goes on in Canada, where it's a way of life. Which is not to say that it isn't possible that the Kings could be a really hot ticket in town, you know? This is a city without football and that loves its sports, so why can't the Kings - like Doc Emrick said - be the king of the L.A. sports scene for at least a while?

MONTAGNE: Mike, thanks very much.

PESCA: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Mike Pesca speaking to us from NPR's New York bureau. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Mike Pesca first reached the airwaves as a 10-year-old caller to a New York Jets-themed radio show and has since been able to parlay his interests in sports coverage as a National Desk correspondent for NPR based in New York City.