Fans Greet Team’s First First Stanley Cup Finals Appearance Since 1993
Apparently, there are a few hockey fans in Los Angeles.
At least 4,000 of them. And they are die-hards.
That’s how many people turned out Tuesday night at LAX to greet the team returning from its playoff win against the Phoenix Coyotes that put it in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Dustin Penner’s goal at 17:42 of overtime propelled the Kings over the Coyotes 4-3, ending the Western Conference Finals in five games. As a result, the Kings are in the championship series for the first time since 1993.
Back then, the “normally laid-back LA crowd” was shown in Sports Illustrated sitting in front of a giant TV screen in beach chairs at Harry O’s, the Manhattan Beach hangoout of the Kings (and visiting teams). Marty MccSorley lived a half mile away on Marine Street and The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was a frequent visitor.
Today, Harry O’s is now Sharkeez Manhattan Beach and Kings fans are, well, almost invisible.
Except on this night, when they turned out to welcome the team back to L.A. Fans began arriving almost as soon as the game ended around 10 p.m. The planed touched down a little before 1 in the morning.
The Kings still don’t know who they will play – the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are tied at 2-2 – or when the Stanley Cup Finals will start, but judging by the airport reception the team received, the fans are ready for it to begin immediately.
At least 4,000 of them.