Jubilant fans exploded into cheers Monday night outside Staples Center, where the L.A. Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history as the NHL’s champions.
“We won the cup! Oh my God we won the cup, thank you!” one man yelled who drove in from West Covina just to celebrate the monumental moment.
The Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in what started out as a quiet and anxious night for many Kings fans. The Kings won the first three games of the finals but lost the next two, making it a 3-2 series.
“I was nervous. You can tell it was a more nervous crowd than it was on Wednesday,” said Andrew Arroyo, who watched the game from ESPN Zone.
The plaza at L.A. Live was quiet, too, after those who had tickets settled into the arena. Police barricaded the plaza so no one could cut across it. The game was not shown on the big screens, but speakers along Staples Center broadcasted the play-by-play and fans sat on the steps to listen in.
The doors were still open when the first goal of the game could be heard from outside the building. Then a second.
“It’s going to happen,” said Kings fan Max Adjore. He’d been waiting for someone to sell him a ticket, but for the right price. The box office sold single tickets for $775.
Then the loud horn trumpeted again, signaling a third Kings goal. The crowds inside roared and Adjore caved in.
“Now $300…” he trailed off, forked over the cash, and rushed inside to join the pandemonium.
The third goal was also the signal for LAPD to mobilize. As soon as the third period began, officers began staging in front of Staples Center and asking people to move away from the entrance.
“The Kings won it guys, congratulations. Let’s move,” one police officer’s radio announced.
With that, the small crowd downtown tossed confetti in the air, screamed and chanted, “We won the cup!” Some climbed statues outside but were asked to come down after pictures were taken. Police gradually pushed the crowd toward downtown and away from L.A. Live until the area was clear.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable…40 years I’ve been waiting. It’s just incredible. I’m in shock,” said David Freeman as he walked out of Staples Center.
Monday night the Kings ended and began a new chapter in L.A. sports history for fans who had waited since 1967 to see this happen, for fans who held their breath in 1993 when the cup was within reach and for fans who realized hockey in Los Angeles is big.
“It worked out all for this one moment for the Kings, for the community, for L.A.,” said Kings fan Edmond Urquiza. “Southern California hockey is going to catapult now.”
A championship parade is planned for Thursday at noon and will start near 5th and Figueroa streets.