9 Years Later: Former LA Kings Reflect on the 2012 Stanley Cup Victory

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings jumps on teammates captain Dustin Brown #23, Jarret Stoll #28, Jordan Nolan #71, Colin Fraser #24, Rob Scuderi #7, Drew Doughty #8 and goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings after winning Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final 6-1 to win the series 4-2 at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 11: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings jumps on teammates captain Dustin Brown #23, Jarret Stoll #28, Jordan Nolan #71, Colin Fraser #24, Rob Scuderi #7, Drew Doughty #8 and goaltender Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings after winning Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final 6-1 to win the series 4-2 at Staples Center on June 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Today marks the ninth anniversary of the LA Kings’ long-awaited Stanley Cup victory. Some former Kings share their memories of the victory.

It’s hard to believe that it happened nine years ago. Yet, here we are reflecting on arguably the greatest moment in LA Kings‘ history when the long-suffering franchise would finally, as Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Nick Nickson exclaimed, “wear their crown.” Whether one year passes or nine years or a few decades, the LA Kings winning their first Stanley Cup will, frankly, never get old for the ever-loyal fanbase of the silver-and-black.

Entering the evening of June 11, 2012, the Kings were one win away from capturing hockey’s Holiest prize, although they had been one win away for the third-straight game.

After jumping out to a 3-0 series lead against the New Jersey Devils, the Kings looked to sweep the series at STAPLES Center on June 6. The Devils had other plans, though, as they avoided the sweep to force Game 5. Then, three nights later in Newark, the Devils won again, handing the Kings their only road loss of the 2012 playoffs. So, on Monday night (June 11), back in Los Angeles, New Jersey had all of the momenta with experts beginning to call for an epic, and infamous, collapse by the Kings.

LA Kings Rob Scuderi
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

But then…

Just shy of the halfway mark of the opening period with the game scoreless, Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi took a vicious hit from behind from New Jersey’s Steve Bernier that left the blueliner down and bloody.

“I can remember the puck going back [behind the Kings’ net] and doing what I had done several times with [Drew] Doughty, who was my partner at the time,” Scuderi told me in 2019. “Maybe two, three, four times a game where I come in, I circle in to get the puck on his side. I didn’t think I could make it around the net before the forechecker got on me, so I’d reverse it.

“I was just trying to do a play we had done several times, and I think Bernier came in with a good forecheck. I just think he hit me a little higher than he wanted to. If he hit me low around my lower back and hips, your body goes up, and your natural tendency is to rise and hit the boards, and it would’ve been nothing. Like the other two or three times in the game, I would’ve been able to pull that off. I think in that instance, he hit me just a little high, and it caused my upper body to go down, and it put my face into the glass.”

Bernier would receive a five-minute major as well as a game misconduct, causing a major shift in momentum for the home team. As for Scuderi, he soldiered on.

“I know I got banged pretty hard,” the former defenseman remembered. “But I just wanted to get up, but I certainly felt it a little more than a usual hit. Then, once you have a second or two to calm yourself, I got myself off the ice.”

LA Kings Rob Scuderi
(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI/ Pool/Getty Images) /

On the man-advantage, the Kings took full advantage. They scored three times on the power play, en route to a convincing 6-1 victory to win the Stanley Cup.

Over the course of the past few years, I’ve spoken with other members of the Kings’ historic 2012 squad, who fondly recollected what winning hockey’s Holiest prize was like that evening.

While Scuderi had already won a Cup in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, 2012’s victory marked the first for most Kings, including one whose career, as accomplished as it was, was marred by injuries and concussions. But, it only made reaching the top in 2012 that much sweeter.

“That was one of the best moments I’ve had in my career,” Simon Gagne told me in 2016. “You go through so much as a young kid. Growing up, especially in Quebec, where hockey is the number-one sport, dreaming of playing in the NHL, dreaming to win the Stanley Cup. But, before that, all of the sacrifices that your parents go through to make sure that you’re up at six in the morning and off to bed early. All the sacrifices as a young kid to perform at a young age but, at the same time, you have your buddies that like to party and stuff like that when you’re 14-15 years old, and you have to get back to the house for curfews. After that, junior, training, all the injuries that we spoke of before, go through all the surgeries, the good moments, and the tough moments you go through to get to the NHL.”

While he was proud of helping Team Canada end their Olympic gold-medal drought 10 years earlier, nothing quite matched the joy and vindication of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Mug.

LA Kings Simon Gagne
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

“When you lift the Cup, all that coming into your mind first like a quick movie or a quick picture that comes really fast, all that comes back, and that is definitely one of the best feelings that I’ve been through in hockey,” a proud Gagne added.

“It was certainly the greatest moment of my, and my teammates’, hockey career,” Kevin Westgarth told me in 2017. “It was a moment you dream about, lifting the Cup above your head. Every hockey game you ever played, every ball hockey and street hockey game that you ever played, so you visualize it hundreds, if not thousands, of times.”

As an enforcer, Westgarth’s playing time with the Kings may have been limited, but he nonetheless connected with the team’s collective fanbase, driving a pick-up truck to and from games as opposed to the fancy cars some of his teammates drove in. It was something that helped fans relate more to the Princeton alum, making them feel enormous pride when he had his chance to hoist the Cup.

“When it actually happened, it was almost like, ‘Is this real this time?’,” an amused Westgarth added about winning the Stanley Cup. “It felt like a dream, and you’re just brimming with happiness and joy with your teammates. It was an absolutely incredible feeling.”

LA Kings Kevin Westgarth
(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

Of course, while each of the aforementioned players had positive impacts on the Kings organization, few have meant more to the Los Angeles Kings than Luc Robitaille.

During his Hall-of-Fame playing career, Robitaille spent 14 of his 19 seasons with the Kings over three different tenures with the club. Yet, even though he won a Stanley Cup as a player (2002 with the Detroit Red Wings), it wasn’t until 2012 when Robitaille could celebrate an ultimate victory for a team that he was partially responsible for building.

“It was the greatest feeling ever because one thing with working for the organization for me was I feel like I was part of what we built and I just thought that being part of a special group, what we set out to do as an organization, that getting to the end where you win a Cup was absolutely incredible,” Robitaille told me in 2016.

After retiring in 2006, Robitaille joined the Kings’ front office. By 2012, he was the club’s President of Operations.

The franchise’s first Stanley Cup even resonated with those with the Kings prior to 2012.

LA Kings Luc Robitaille
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Ray Ferraro, who played for the Kings from 1996 to 1999, shared his excitement for his former team’s peak moment when I spoke to him in 2020.

“It was awesome to see the enthusiasm which had been pent up since they came in as an expansion team, and finally, they got an opportunity to win,” he beamed. “I just felt really good for them, really happy for them.”

While they always had a following, the Kings’ popularity only intensified in 1988  when Wayne Gretzky joined the club. The man who acquired No. 99 immediately turned the hapless Kings into Stanley Cup contenders. Yet, while they never did win hockey’s Holiest prize under his ownership, Bruce McNall was nonetheless lauded for bringing Gretzky to Los Angeles — an impact that is still felt to this day. Despite being so many years removed from owning the franchise, though, McNall was nonetheless a big part of the Kings’ win in 2012.

LA Kings Bruce McNall
(Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /

“When they won the Cup in 2012, I was thrilled. I was ecstatic,” the former Kings’ owner told me in 2020. “I was at the game. As a matter of fact, Dustin Brown — I was upstairs — came upstairs and brought the Cup to me. And we had a photograph, which I still have, Dustin and I holding the Stanley Cup together.

“They gave me one of the [Stanley Cup] rings,” a beaming McNall added. “They said, ‘This would not have happened without you, we wouldn’t have a team, and we wouldn’t be here, so you deserve this.’”

LA Kings Drew Doughty Jonathan Quick
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

June 11, 2012, is a day that will live in the hearts and minds of the LA Kings and their ever-loyal fanbase forever. Those in attendance got to witness one of the most memorable moments in Los Angeles’ deep-seated championship lore and, most importantly, the end of the 45-year suffering of a franchise they loved through thick and thin, through a plethora of failed rebuilds, a slew of questionable trades, and the whirlwind of emotions that came with every playoff heartbreak. Heck, there really was no better way to end that drought than going on a historic, not to mention unprecedented, playoff run.

That playoff run saw the Kings, against all odds, eliminate the top-seeded, and heavily-favored, Vancouver Canucks in five games. That was just a foreshadowing to more magic as the Kings went on to eliminate the second and third seeds clubs — the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes — in just nine combined games to reach their first Final since 1993. Never before in NHL history had an eighth-seeded team eliminated the top three seeds, and never will it happen again.

From the thousands in attendance at STAPLES Center to the millions watching and listening in the United States, Canada, and around the world, the goosebumps expanded with each goal, not to mention with each passing minute, as the Kings put their stamp on Game 6.

LA Kings 2012 Stanley Cup
(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images) /

Whether those watching on TV were listening to NBC’s Doc Emrick or CBC’s Jim Hughson, they heard the mentions of countless names in the franchise’s deep lineage from Jack Kent Cooke and Jerry Buss to Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, and Dave Taylor. From the fans who had loved the Kings since day one to those who had been fans for just a few years, to those in the front office you never saw but put a positive mark on the franchise nonetheless to the coaches and GMs, to the players, the long-elusive Stanley Cup victory in 2012 celebrated a long-traveled road of resilience, perseverance, redemption, and vindication for this proud franchise and its supporters.

To those, like yours truly, who fell to their knees speechless, to those, also like yours truly, who immediately called that person responsible for making you a Kings fan — for me, it was my older brother, Adam — and to those who cried knowing that their vicarious rags-to-riches journey had reached its climax, the significance of the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup victory went far deeper than what happened on the ice. And for that, those associated with the Kings in every capacity imaginable will remember and cherish June 11 until their dying days.

So, here we are, on the nine-year anniversary of the LA Kings’ first Stanley Cup win, continuing to celebrate the achievement as if it just happened yesterday.

Here’s to 2012: today, tomorrow, and forever.

LA Kings Stanley Cup 2012
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /