I’ve told you that I’m a fool for my LA Kings, and this year we were in the Stanley Cup Finals. I didn’t rant as much on a daily basis as I had threatened, but there’s a loose end and a story to tell about how it all ended.
Assuming that you know anything about hockey, you know how it came out. Assuming that you know nothing about hockey, the short version is that my beloved LA Kings won in five games, losing only Game Four in New York.
But I was going to be on vacation for games three, four, and five… I carefully tried to scout out locations where I could watch each game, averting a potential catastrophe.
Game Three we watched the first period at home, listened to the second period on the radio driving to the airport, and watched the third period in a restaurant at LAX along with a big crowd. I was, of course, wearing my traditional jersey to and at the airport for the game.
Photo credit: Ronnie Willett
Dressed like this, it was obvious that Los Angeles had turned into a hockey town. Everyone wanted to talk about the Kings, from the shuttle bus drivers, to the restaurant staff, to random strangers in the restrooms, to airline flight crews. After we had won Game Three, I got into a conversation with a total stranger who was praying that the Kings would lose one game, because he had tickets to Game Five and if we swept, he wouldn’t get to see them. (He got his wish.)
For the second and third periods of Game Three I could not blow the Vuvuzela of Victory as is traditional (it was packed away in my luggage — yes, of course I took it, what kind of a fan do you think I am?) but I had a vuvuzela app on my iPhone which substituted in a pinch.
Travelling through O’Hare in Chicago and Newark in New Jersey, I was expecting to get some grief about my Kings attire, but I was disappointed. Not a word.
Once in New England though, my family was more than happy to give me a hard time. We watched the first two periods of Game Four at my sister’s house and the third period back at our hotel. I was only able to grace the Central Vermont countryside once with the sweet, sweet tones from the Vuvuzela of Victory as New York just managed to slip away with a victory. (Not to worry, the neighbors probably just thought it was a dying or mating moose.)
Game Five was more problematic. While it was a great opportunity for us to win the Cup on home ice (when we won it in 2012 the deciding game was in New Jersey), I needed a place to watch, and I had a get-together with some of my high school classmates to attend. More unusual, and critical, was the fact that our hotel did not have NBC on the televisions in the rooms. In fact, they had none of the four major networks.
The dinner with my classmates was spectacular and fun. It went a bit later than I had expected, but it wasn’t a huge deal since we were on the East Coast, where the game didn’t start until 8PM. I followed the first period on my phone, then went looking for a television after the dinner party broke up.
The Hartness House is a spectacular place and has always been a favorite of mine. (Our house when I was in high school was just a block away and one street over.) I’m sure I’ll rant more about how wonderful it is at some other time, but what surprised me this time was the lack of the network broadcasts on the televisions in the rooms. At first I had been worried that they might not have the NBC Sports Network, which is only carried on cable and satellite and not always carried in many places, but I stopped worrying when I realized that Game Five was on NBC, the primary network. Everyone has that on their televisions, right?
Wrong. That was the last thing I would have expected, but there it was. I went to the front desk and explained the problem. They were wonderful and pulled a big, flat screen, HD television out (from the bar?) and set it up for me in one of the sitting rooms by the front desk. There I started to watch the game, along with the Long-Suffering Wife.
While we were having dinner, the Kings had scored once in the first period. In the second period, New York scored twice to go ahead. (I was sad.) In the third period, we tied it up (I was very happy) and I danced in my seat on the couch and screamed as loud as I could while being very, very, very quiet. No Vuvuzela of Victory. Not even the iPhone app.
Remember, I’m in the lobby of a not terribly large bed & breakfast which is also a national historic site. It’s close to 11:00 PM. There are dozens of people upstairs, asleep. I’m right at the bottom of a gorgeous staircase that goes up to all of the rooms…
…so the Vuvuzela of Victory would sound fantastic, echoing and ringing through the entire building. And getting my ass arrested, probably by the local police chief, who happens to be one of my high school classmates.
So I kept it to a dull roar. And the game was tied after regulation. And we sat through the first overtime. It was incredibly tense and exciting.
It was tied at the end of one overtime. The Long-Suffering Wife gave up and went to bed. The staff and their big friendly dog kept coming out every fifteen minutes or so to see if I was done and gone. Every fifteen minutes the grandfather clock (center, in the corner at the bottom of the staircase behind the flowers in the picture above) would go off. The staff turned off all of the lights except for the room I was in. The staff finally gave up and went to bed themselves.
And still the game went on. Until we won it, 14:43 into the second overtime. It was the fourth longest game in NHL history. And still there was no screaming, no shouting, no Vuvuzela of Victory. I was dancing around and very excited, but it was like watching “Footloose” with the sound turned off.
I didn’t wait up to watch the Kings celebrate and get the Cup. It was about 1:45 AM by this time, and we were meeting my classmates early on Saturday morning for the parade. The late, late, late night celebration and lack of sleep that night no doubt helped me to look and feel my best the next morning.
Photo credit: Chris Reasoner King
I wore my Kings jersey to the parade, in part to show off my pride in my team and my joy with their victory, and in part to give the needle just a bit to some of the locals who were not Kings fans.
So there you have it. Some of the Finals got listened to on radio, some watched in odd places, some just tracked play-by-play on an iPhone app. The Vuvuzela of Victory was blown often, but also set aside at times in the name of discretion, with some really quiet, bad, middle-aged, white guy dancing substituted.
A good time was had by all. (Except for the Sharks, Ducks, Blackhawks, and Rangers fans.)