Who's Stanley and what's with this Cup?
The Stanley Cup, named for a long-ago governor general of Canada, was scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. You know, just in case it's needed Wednesday.
In that event, La Coupe Stanley will be presented on the ice, right after the Conn Smythe Trophy to the Stanley Cup MVP.
And if tradition holds, Kings captain Dustin Brown will skate the 35-pound, 36-inch-high sterling silver and nickel trophy around Staples, before passing it along to teammates to do the same.
In the locker room, players will sip champagne from the trophy as it comes into the team's possession for 100 days — "minus a couple of short league events," says Phil Pritchard, one of five bodyguards who trade off accompanying the trophy at all times.
Once the postgame festivities are over, the winning team is allowed to add 52 names — players, coaches, staff — to the 2,000 already there. The Cup then sleeps around, so to speak, passing from player to player, and is often the guest of honor in hometown parades.
Over the years, the trophy has also been used for baptisms and as a breakfast bowl. It has even visited strip clubs.
"If it could talk, it would be a bestseller," Pritchard says.
Meanwhile, he's standing by. Just in case it's needed.
Do you believe in miracles?
Al Michaels certainly does. A Kings ticket holder for 19 years, the NBC sportscaster can't quite believe his eyes these days.
"It's like being in a dream sequence," he says of the Kings' postseason. "This is the most amazing run I've seen in any sport . . . for a team to barely get into the playoffs and now to be playing at this level.
"Here's what's happening, in my mind, in the playoffs: Every single one of these guys is playing at least as well or better than they've ever played. . . . It's phenomenal," he says.
"There is nothing like hockey. When you think of it, in a 1-0 game and each team gets 30 shots, you die 60 deaths."
And the Zach Galifianakis playoff beard award goes to . . . well, in my book it's a tie between Dustin Penner and Kings mascot Bailey, who appears to be a lion, or perhaps some kind of giant water-based rodent. Just in case, someone dart the darned thing and drag it up into the mountains.
Of course, fans are sporting the playoff beards too, an NHL tradition that has been traced back to the New York Islanders in the 1980s.
"What could be more uncomfortable?" asks Kings fan/game show host Pat Sajak, at Monday's game with son Patrick. "They want to win just so they can shave."
"Definitely, when you're cutting a larger beard off, you want to trim off as much as possible first," says Brian Yamada, a shaving consultant with the Art of Shaving in Americana at Brand. "Take it all the way down," he says.
He then recommends hot water to soften the beard and open the pores before shaving.
Yamada says his shop will chop the whole thing off for $35.
In Calgary, they just use a blowtorch, then weed whackers.
Line of the week: "How'd the Kings end up with a coach who looks like a duck?" But fans and players all seem to love this quirky, quacky guy, who has five brothers who made it to the NHL. Darryl Sutter's workmanlike approach and drive for perfection are credited with turning the team around.
Lots of counterfeit tickets floating around L.A. Live these days.
"The further you get from Staples, the riskier it is," advises Paul Vernon of the LAPD Central Division's vice unit. "Scalpers don't want to deal with detectives close to Staples."
Sat Parhar and Bal Dhaliwa, two buddies down from Vancouver to cheer the Kings, got stung when their $400 tickets turned out to be bogus. They lucked into a couple of last-minute tickets released at the Kings' box office (yes, this happens). Those went for $650 a pop. But at least they were real.
Dressed in cape and crown, Kings fan Craig Miller bought almost identical bogus tickets outside the Palm.
Purchased just before game time, those went for a mere $200. A friend happened by, saw his highness in distress, and was able to rustle up a couple of last-minute seats in the Premier section.
Now Miller believes in miracles too.
Still standing, the 25-ton sand sculpture honoring the Kings at L.A. Live. It's been modified slightly to include a "Beat N.J." panel, but otherwise seems perfectly intact weeks after first appearing. The work of seven artists from Archisand Professional Sand Sculptors (who knew?), it took two days to complete.
Line of the week runner-up (with the Kings leading 4-0): "Put in McSorley!"