May 3, 2012
Kings buzz building slowly in La-la land
By ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
LOS ANGELES - If a Canadian team is playing at home in the second round of the NHL playoffs, two games away from a berth in the conference final, traffic doesn't stop -- the entire city does.
Jesus and some aliens could land on earth on the day of a crucial post-season game and the newscast wouldn't get to them until about 10 minutes into the show.
"In other news..."
In Los Angeles, not so much.
The Kings are becoming the story of the playoffs after dismissing Vancouver in five games and taking a 2-0 lead on the St. Louis Blues, but they're still not the lead story in L.A.
They've had a loyal fan base dating back to the days of the Triple Crown Line, but generating widespread civic passion is still a work in progress.
"We knew before that L.A. is a winning city, you have to win here to be recognized and to be big," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar. "That's why the Lakers have been recognized around here. And the Clippers, no disrespect to them, the last couple of years they didn't get a whole lot of respect from anybody, but this year they made the playoffs, had a good season and now they're getting a lot of recognition, too.
"That's just the way it goes around here."
You have to earn your attention here (or get on a reality TV show). And on the evening before their Game 3 showdown with St. Louis, the Kings were up against the unveiling of a new Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group that includes Magic Johnson; a no-hitter in the Anaheim Angels game; the Lakers and Clippers playoff series; and the sudden death of former San Diego Charger Junior Seau.
Where did the Kings fit into all this?
"In other news..."
Nobody's feelings are hurt by it, though. They all know the rules when it comes to playing in L.A.: Win. Lots.
Win as many championships as the Lakers and you'll need sunglasses for the spotlight.
"You have to win here to have it all," said Jarret Stoll, who's seen it from both ends of the spectrum, having gone to a Cup final with the Edmonton Oilers.
"Whether it's bandwagon or not, you have to at least get past the first round, second round, and that hype will start being there pretty quickly."
With the Kings two rounds in, the buzz is starting to gain a little volume.
"A little, yeah," said Stoll. "Where we live nobody really knows who we are, but now they kind of do a little bit.
"There's a lot more ticket requests and people who want to enjoy this and experience it. It's a whole new experience and something that hasn't been around here in a little while. I feel it."
PENNER ON TWITTER
Dustin Penner, one of the wittier players in the NHL, is tailor made for Twitter, but he didn't jump on the 140-character bandwagon till just now.
"It's a lot of responsibility, because now you've got people asking a lot of questions that you want to answer, but there's only 24 hours in a day. Ten I like to sleep, and six I like to lay around. I don't want to spend another six on Twitter, but that's what it warrants now, with all the messages you get.''
TEAM OF DUSTIN-Y
Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown has been a nightmare for the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues, hitting anything that moves, scoring back-breaking shorthanded goals and basically setting an example his teammates can't help but follow.
"All teams are looking for players like that," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. "Brownie is Brownie, you don't put too much on him, you just let him play and lead by example, and if enough guys do that you have a chance to succeed."
When someone suggested Brown, the way he scores goals, finishes checks, kills penalties and plays with fire in his belly, looks a lot like Sutter did the coach just rolled his eyes.
"He could play in rubber boots and be as good as me."