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SPORTS WATCH : A Season for Kings

June 01, 1993

As the Canadians might put it: "Only in Hollywood, eh."

In a matchup that is as much a press agent's as a sportswriter's dream, professional hockey's championship series, the Stanley Cup Playoffs, opens tonight in Montreal. It will feature the winningest franchise in the sport's history, the powerful Montreal Canadiens--who have won the cup 23 times in the 100 years it has been awarded to the best pro hockey team in North America--against our own Los Angeles Kings.

You read that right. For the first time ever, a team from Los Angeles is battling for the championship of professional hockey. Those of us who grew up here and figured ice and snow belonged only on faraway mountaintops can't quite get over it. As our estimable sports-page colleague Jim Murray might put it, this is the Celtics vs. the Lakers. Ali vs. Frazier. Or, we can only hope, the Yankees vs. the Dodgers in '63.

If you think we're awestruck at the very notion that L.A.'s latest sports heroes wear ice skates, you should read the sour grapes in the Eastern press. Well, they'd better get used to it, because not only are the Kings a step away from hockey supremacy, but next year another Southern California entry, the Mighty Ducks, will join the league from Anaheim.

So forget that it's June. Or that it looks like the Angels and Dodgers are for real this year. Or that the Lakers and Clippers are just a fading memory and that summer camp for the Raiders and Rams is still a month away. For the next week or so, this is a hockey town. Wayne Gretzky for Mayor! Go Kings!

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