Los Angeles Kings president of business operations Luc Robitaille calls her the team's good luck charm and the L.A. faithful have fully embraced her. All in all, it's an interesting way for a young up-and-coming chanteuse to find new fans. But American Idol finalist and Kings national anthem singer Pia Toscano wouldn't have it any other way.
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"Luc gave me my own Kings jersey. I was really excited about that," said Toscano, who was signed to Interscope Records following her Idol appearance and is currently working on her debut album. "I can't believe how they've welcomed me. It's the most fun that I've had. I will be the Kings' national anthem singer as long as they want me."
If the team's recent performance is any indication, the Kings could be keeping Toscano around for a while.
Just four wins away from the second Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history, Los Angeles has been one of the biggest surprises of this postseason. Despite just barely making the playoffs, the Kings proceeded to shock the top-seeded Canucks in the first round before sweeping the heavily-favored Blues, becoming the first eight seed to knock off both top-two seeds in a postseason.
For the New York-born Toscano, who became involved with the team just a few months ago, it's been a joy to witness that historic run.
"The Kings have done such an incredible thing. To be where they are, the fans are so behind them," Toscano said. "I want to see them win so bad. They all seem like a great bunch of guys."
It's a stunning turnaround for the singer, who attended her first game in January at the request of her manager Mark DiDia, a longtime Kings fan. Thoroughly impressed by the spectacle at Staples, Toscano asked about singing the national anthem before an upcoming Kings game, a role she had previously played at NASCAR races and the National Memorial Day concert.
After her first performance of the anthem, Robitaille invited her back. Since then, the Kings have enjoyed great home success, going 10-2-1 at home (including 3-1 in the playoffs) since Feb. 25.
An emerging fixture in the Kings community, Toscano has relied on all the pre-game superstitions one would find in any NHL locker room. To honor her late grandfather, who was born Oct. 13, Toscano had his initials tattooed on her wrist and before every performance she rubs the tattoo 13 times. It's just one of a number of small rituals she follows. When she walks down to the ice to sing the anthem, she walks down aisle 13.
"[Walking down] aisle 13 just happened that way," Toscano said. "That's how I know my grandpa is watching me."
United by fate with a team looking to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 19 years, the 23-year-old singer never saw this unique relationship coming. But she's glad it did.
"I never expected people to discover me from that. Hockey and American Idol don't mix," said Toscano, who auditioned five times for the show before finally making it on. "You want to root for your team. And the Kings are the underdog and I feel like an underdog, too, so I feel like we're the perfect fit."