After Dustin Penner scored the goal that launched the Kings into the Stanley Cup final, he grinned so joyfully and genuinely that a photograph of his face alone would have been a worthy part of the photo exhibit on display in the gallery space on the main level in Staples Center.
But the photograph of Penner taken by Andrew Bernstein, who has worked for the Kings for three decades, has captured so much more than a man’s smile.
The photo, one of 55 taken by Bernstein and his colleagues at Andrew D. Bernstein Associates Photography, also captures the stunned reactions of the crowd in Glendale, Ariz., after Penner’s goal gave the Kings the Western Conference title. It doesn’t merely depict a person or event — it tells a story, as do so many of the other photos chosen for the exhibition, “Los Angeles Kings Road to the Stanley Cup.”
“This is one of my own favorites,” Bernstein said. “I just happened to be in the right place. When he scored the goal, the actual scoring of the goal was OK. I sort of had his back. But then he turned right at me and I got this and it was insane.”
Bernstein, also the senior official photographer for the NBA, had photographed 30 NBA finals winners but had never photographed the entire Stanley Cup final. He was on duty for only the first two games of the Kings’ only other finals appearance in 1993. His photo of the triumphant Kings gathered for an informal shot — Justin Williams has his tongue out and other players are stretched out full-length — is among the first photos visitors will see when they enter the gallery for the exhibit, which is scheduled to run through June.
It’s open to ticket holders during Kings, Lakers and Clippers games and there’s no separate admission charge. Bernstein dedicated the show to the late David Courtney, the Kings’ longtime public address announcer.
The photos are large and arranged in roughly chronological order, starting with the Kings’ first-round series against Vancouver. Bernstein and his colleagues — including his son, Michael, Juan Ocampo, Evan Gole and Noah Graham — shot from above the ice and beside it, producing varied angles and perspectives. A particularly striking photo shows goaltender Jonathan Quick resembling a snow angel as he tries to keep the puck out of his net.
“We wanted to have a real good mixture of really good, behind-the-scenes stuff and live action and celebrate the grandeur of it,” Bernstein said.
Some of the best photos were taken on the ice at Staples Center, after the Kings finished off the New Jersey Devils. In one shot, a toothless and jubilant Dustin Brown is seen lifting the Cup while Commissioner Gary Bettman is walking away from the camera. In another, Anze Kopitar is about to hand the Cup to Matt Greene, whose hands are outstretched in anticipation.
“It sort of like looks like someone is handing him his baby for the first time,” Bernstein said.
Several compilations stand out. There’s one of all the celebrities who got to touch the Cup, including Lakers Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard. World Peace poured a handful of almonds into the bowl and ate them.
Also worth seeing is a collage of photos of all 79 Kings employees who spent a day with the Cup last summer. The 80th picture, added by Bernstein, is of Courtney with the Cup. Another fun display shows the 26 iconic places Bernstein and his photographers took the Cup around Los Angeles, including the Hollywood Bowl, Pink’s, Muscle Beach, Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Reprints of photos and posters are on sale in the gallery, but only during Kings’ games. In addition, fans can have their pictures taken next to a version of the Stanley Cup banner and order the photos for personal use. Portions of the proceeds will go to the Kings Care charitable foundation.