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Kings bring the Cup to the fans

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings

Workers from the world-famous Pantry diner, in their black aprons, waved and snapped pictures, as did construction workers, policemen and a half-dozen folks dressed in green medical scrubs.

It’s not every day that the Stanley Cup rides through Los Angeles. Or every decade, for that matter.

In celebration of their first-ever Stanley Cup championship, the Kings held a victory parade and rally downtown Thursday afternoon. Thousands of fans lined the streets around STAPLES Center for the one-mile parade, then 18,000-plus fans filed into the arena for a raucous on-ice rally.

``It’s one of those moments you want to relive over and over again. I think I took more pictures than a lot of fans did,’’ Kings winger Dustin Penner said of the parade. ``It was extremely loud. I think they were handing out free foghorns over at the gas station, maybe. It was amazing to see the support, and put a lot of faces to the cheers we’re heard all year.’’

The Kings, and their fans, have been in party mode since Monday night, when the Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 6-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals to claim the championship. Celebrations have been both public -- television shows hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and Jay Leno, plus a trip to Dodger Stadium -- and private, with the Cup spending time in a Hermosa Beach bar and in players’ backyards.

On Thursday, though, the Kings brought the Cup to the people, the fans who had waited the entirety of the Kings’ 45-year existence to celebrate a championship. Players, coaches and staff filed into five open-roof buses and one flatbed truck and waved and grinned as fans roared in support.

``It was loud. It was really loud. It was a lot of people and it was amazing,’’ Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ``I didn’t know what to expect. You see pictures of the Lakers’ parade, and everything is packed. This was just as good, if not better.’’

At the end of parade, in front of Staples Center, captain Dustin Brown raised the Cup high above his head again, as silver-and-black confetti shot into the sky and music blared.

Approximately 90 minutes later, the party started again inside for the STAPLES Center rally, with players and members of the organization seated at center ice. Several video tributes played, Luc Robitaille read a touching letter from Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne, and several people spoke.

The highlights? Coach Darryl Sutter brought down the house with a few on-ice fist pumps, Brown received a roar for his acknowledgement of Miller and TV partner Jim Fox, and Quick, the final speaker of the afternoon, gave an R-rated tribute to his teammates.

Sutter, who got a standing ovation from fans and players, shared his memory of being behind the bench late in Game 6, when it was clear that the Kings would win and players started to celebrate.

``Just seeing the (looks) on their faces is something I'll remember for the rest of my life,’’ Sutter said.

At the end of the rally, the players posed for a group photo as camera flashes filled the air.

``It was too much fun not to win it again,’’ Kopitar said. ``Let's go get it.’’

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