Al Michaels is a Kings season ticket member. He is at STAPLES Center a great deal of time when he is, of course, not calling the action on NBC as part of their popular Sunday Night Football show.
The long-time voice of Monday Night Football, a role he enjoyed on ABC for close to two decades, Michaels is also known in hockey circles for putting the exclamation point on the 1980 Gold Medal Olympic Men’s Hockey contest between the Americans and the heavily-favored Russians, when he, as the final second ticked off the clock, asked the now-famous question: “Do You Believe in Miracles?”
Come to think of it, that was probably a question a lot of die-hard Kings fans were asking themselves back in April, May and June.
Michaels, who has lived in Los Angeles for more than 50 years and has called about every major sporting event including several World Series contests, recently answered the following questions from LAKings.com:
LAKings.com: Al, how do you now reflect back upon the moment when the Kings finished off the New Jersey Devils in the sixth – and final game – of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final?
Michaels: Well I think I was very nervous when I went to STAPLES Center that night because after watching a three games to nothing lead, it becomes a three games to two games lead. I was probably as nervous as I’d been attending a game as a spectator since I was a kid. It was obviously tremendous to get a five minute power play and score three times to take a little bit of the nervousness away, even though when the Devils got another goal in the second period to make it four to one some of the butterflies came back, but it was a wonderful moment. It was a wonderful thing to be involved with so many years as a season ticket holder, to have only one won playoff series over nineteen years and then to go on that kind of a run. It was great to really enjoy with my family and my grandsons are now major fans, in addition to my son has always being a hockey maniac. You know, the same people that sat in the same section as us going back to the days of the Forum and at STAPLES Center, so it was just a wonderful community feeling, with a lot of collegiality and a very special night, very, very special. It was one of the those things where you had to rub your eyes to believe that your actually watching the Stanley Cup being wheeled in at STAPLES Center.
LAKings.com: I’m going to have to look up how to spell collegiality. A snapshot -- a moment, whether it’s from that night or at some point during the playoffs -- that you think you’ll take to your grave so to speak, whether it was a certain person raising the Cup or seeing the look in a certain man’s eyes, I don’t know…any snapshot moment that you take away?
Michaels: Strangely enough, it might have been something on television, when Dustin Brown scored those two short-handed goals in Vancouver. You almost had the feeling that something extraordinary was in the making and to go into Vancouver, and again watching it on television was spectacular. But, it might be, I’m just trying to think what it would be, I mean there were so many fantastic moments. I can’t give you one, Jeff, that really stands out as the one moment in time. There’s so many…I mean the Kopitar overtime goal—that all happened on the road, the Carter game winning goal, all those incredible moments were happening on television.
LAKings.com: Did you see it coming? I mean ok eighth seed, you sort of sneak in—here we go again, Vancouver, first round Presidents’ Trophy winners or the team was good, maybe just underperformed throughout the year. Is it a case of did you see it coming or were you just shocked?
Michaels: Well nobody could say they saw it coming. However, I will say this as somebody who goes to a lot of games. I liked the way the team was playing for Darryl Sutter and even though it was a little bit of a struggle at one point and they were in jeopardy of not even getting into the playoffs, I saw enough to know that if they got to the playoffs, they could do a lot of damage so that part of it didn’t surprise me. Again, you go in as the eight but you’re almost a three, you don’t lose that game to San Jose a couple of nights before the season ends and then you probably are the three so the difference between three and eight was razor thin so I didn’t think of the team really as an eighth seed I saw them as a team that got into the playoffs, that was playing a lot better under the new coach, that looked to be pretty healthy, that had a goalie that you knew, when he gets into the playoffs, anything can happen I mean he could be the star of the playoffs, and of course he was. So I had a pretty good feeling going in and I just thought that with the Vancouver series, you come out of there as you always do when you’re the road team, you want to come out one and one and then you turn home ice into your favor for the balance of the series and when we came out of there two and zero, up to two none, I knew, boy this could really be something special.
LAKings.com: And finally, Bob Miller, Jim Fox, Nick Nickson, Daryl Evans, I mean, I’d have to break out a calculator to figure out collective years of those gentlemen behind the microphone, obviously a role you’re very familiar with, a little extra, well it’s special for everybody, you know the role of those guys and what they’ve done to sell the team, to help a strange sport in this city, you had to feel pretty cool for those guys.
Michaels: I couldn’t be happier for those guys. Believe me, I know what it’s like, having done the San Francisco Giants in the mid-70s when they were terrible—how hard it is to do a team that isn’t in contention and doesn’t have a chance. You know they sat through a lot of mediocre hockey through the years and haven’t had too many fantastic moments. To think it over, for 19 years you only won one playoff series, even though that was pretty phenomenal the way they came back and beat Detroit in that one game and won and then went on to win that series. There’s just been a lot of frustration and a lot of heartbreak and then to have this magical run take place it’s almost as if one great run like that can wipe out nineteen years in one fell swoop. I’m thrilled for those guys, I’m glad they got to experience it.
Special thanks – Sarah Sotoodeh