Shark Fins and Royal Perseverance

Los Angeles is a notoriously fickle town. Perhaps it comes with territory to over hype the shit out of something and then bail on it the moment it under performs.

cbs-2013-super-bowl-show-promo-most-watched-network-large-2That’s the tragic nature of modern day entertainment. When the going gets tough, we change the channel, whether it’s a tv series that’s America’s Favorite New Show until it’s cancelled, or a sporting franchise with a legacy of victory uncharacteristically struggling for wins. There’s just too much to choose from to waste a minute with a loser.

But what kind of character can you build without the joy of a little deep suffering?

images-1Such was the case last week at the Staples Center, when the Los Angeles Kings were getting trounced by the San Jose Sharks three games to none. Empty seats littered the arena. Especially in the luxury boxes. The fans and the papers had all but written off the Kings, albeit painfully. It just wasn’t our year.

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But this is the same team that went to the mountain top in 2012, hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time in LA history. They were losing, at times being blown off the ice, but something about it all just didn’t seem right. The Kings were better than this and they knew it, even if the chatter was blaring out the opposite.

0Then the Kings won game four, decisively, and game five, and by game six back at Staples, the bandwagon was standing room only. If the Come Back Kids doubted themselves, it never made it out of the locker room. But it must have been pin-droppingly brutal in there down three games to none. Where does the confidence come from?

In the history of the NHL only four teams have overcome such a deficit. The discipline to stay focused on the present in the face of such daunting odds takes nothing short of Zen mastery.

imagesIgnore the papers, ignore the humiliation of letting in fifteen goals in the first three games, ignore the apathy and empty seats, ignore the baseball coverage on the cover of the sports section while playoff hockey is relegated to page eight. Lace ‘em up and hit the ice, boys. The series isn’t over. The fat lady has yet to sing.

5544_1a9e_500The biggest cliché we hear athletes sputter ends up being a fundamental truth. “We’re taking it one game at a time.” Easy to say. Incredibly hard to actually pull off. And the more you shrink the deficit towards evening up a series, the easier it is to get inside your own head. We’re close. We’re closer. We can tie this series. We can actually win this thing.

And the fans start getting hopeful. And the columnists start getting hopeful. And there’s nothing more toxic when striving to fulfill a goal. As the iron willed Nietzsche advised, when faced with “a hard factuality,” what we need is not hope, but “courage in the face of reality.”Shark-Sushi-Plate

The Kings let their actions speak louder than their words. And here in Tinsel Town, the city of perpetual bullshit, that’s a truly praiseworthy achievement. They entered the shark tank without fear and carved the man-eaters into sashimi in royal fashion.kitty-duck

Now it’s onto the next odds against challenge in Anaheim and hopefully, a well cooked Duck a l’Orange.

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5 Comments


  1. I’ve given many a speech in the locker room and ended up losing so I don’t think it’s words that do it. You have to BELIEVE. I think the Kings fluctuated a lot during the season. Started strong, crap after the olympics, then making playoffs barely. Nerve wracking. now they’re in the playoffs and they’re getting their asses handed to them. Most of us were like, this isn’t right. We’re not that bad. And they said the same thing. They were like, wait. We’re not this bad. And then, wait, we’re actually solid when we’re awake and ready. And then, we’re better than these guys. It took three games for them to remember they were mostly intact from the last cup. So believe… Especially when you have such strong evidence.


  2. I never thought they’d beat the Blackhawks. That was ridiculous. But so were the other wins. I have to admit that most of the playoff games I went to the Kings lost. Nothing worse than leaving Staples Center after a loss. I pretty much convinced myself that if I stopped going, they’d win, and I was right! Also saved thousands. They should thank me. Oh wait, they did, at two different parades. Are we a dynasty? Let’s enjoy this one for the summer….


  3. The playoffs were kind of ludicrous this year. As a Blackhawks fan, I kept watching the other teams on the west coast, and writing off the Kings. I was worried about the Ducks and the Sharks and the Blues. I think they took advantage of that. I’m curious what was said in the locker room too. Maybe nothing. But to overcome that deficit, when you’re not just losing but being blown away, is a very rare accomplishment.


  4. What an amazing run… It really goes to show that until it’s actually over, you’re never out. You’re only defeated if you think you are. It’s an impressive bit of mental gymnastics to be able to ignore the past, the odds, the chatter and your own self doubt. Kudos all around…


  5. How many more will they win? Did you see that the Islanders are for sale? I think they should move to Catalina. Could be huge….

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