For the past nine months, the Los Angeles Kings and their fans had the opportunity to celebrate some long-awaited rewards. It all started in June when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Then a few days later, the Stanley Cup Parade which saw a quarter-million fans come out and celebrate (who says no one cares about the Kings in Los Angeles?), the championship banner-raising ceremony in January and on Tuesday, the Kings continued an age-old tradition of visiting the White House.
Unlike other celebratory events, a trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue invokes a plethora of mixed feelings and the situation itself can be quite awkward. While there are those who like President Barack Obama, others would rather see someone else leading the country. What I was most reluctant about was a repeat of last year’s trip to the nation’s capital for the Stanley Cup champions. Goaltender Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins elected not to attend the White House given his contrasting political views from President Obama’s. Thomas’ decision to decline sparked debates all over the sports world and even left a few Bruins with a bitter taste in their mouths.
As far as I know, the only King who did not attend Tuesday’s ceremony was goaltender Jonathan Bernier but in his defense, it had nothing to do with politics. Sadly, Bernier couldn’t be in Washington as he dealing with a family emergency.
While I wasn’t there, the visited appeared to be a success. Obama even kidded the Kings as they defeated his Chicago Blackhawks just the previous night. There were the traditional photo ops plus Dustin Penner tweeted that he wasn’t going to attend for political reasons only to say that he’ll go as he’s not an idiot referencing the aforementioned Tim Thomas’ controversial decision last year.
What I wasn’t so crazy about (and I do apologize in advance to the soccer fans in Los Angeles) was that the Kings had to share their special day with the Los Angeles Galaxy who won the MLS Cup last year. Now, I admit that the Galaxy wholehearted deserved their championship and to a large extent deserve the same recognition as the Kings. With that said, however, why they decided to have both teams visit the White House at the same time is beyond me. I understand that it’s appropriate to have two Los Angeles teams visit simultaneously especially given how rare it is for a city to house multiple championship-winning teams in the same year. But the Kings waited 45 years for their Stanley Cup and because of the lockout, even longer to see their banner raised to the rafters. Now, they had to share the spotlight with another team.
Looking at the big picture, there’s no use in complaining. After all, the Los Angeles Kings did get their due and Tuesday must have been such a tremendous feeling and opportunity regardless where everyone’s political beliefs lie.
While I would rather focus on this season as opposed to hanging onto the laurels of last, Tuesday filled me with a sense of great joy, unconditional pride. Here was a team that just a few years ago was so far off the radars of most and yet this week, the Los Angeles Kings were being hosted by the President of the United States on arguably the most watched stage in the world.
Not a bad day, if you ask me.