The history. The memories. The legends. All of our 50 years, gathered underneath one roof last night, at the STAPLES Center.
We had been building to this evening for a long time, and it finally hit us: we're 50 years old. 50 years as an organization. As a team.
Thanks to Delta, we had the very first Kings team flown in for the evening. Some of them hadn't been in LA in years. Some hadn't seen each other in the flesh in years.
But once backstage at STAPLES, they chatted away as if the years separated never occurred, sharing stories, cracking jokes, taking photos and enjoying the festivies alongside their families.
Past and current players mingled and chatted as the game drew nearer. Toffoli received words of wisdom from Brian Kilrea, the first player who ever scored a goal in Kings franchise history. And our current captain met a certain former Kings captain...
Closer and closer the puck drop came. The Triple Crown prepared, slipping on the old school NHL jerseys. The 1967-'68 line up readied themselves as they headed out to the Players Entrance.
... and on the other side of the arena, four great Kings had a little fun with an iPhone.
Then, the ceremony.
The return of the great Bob Miller. His emotional speech, thanking LA Kings fans for all the well wishes, cards and messages that came his way after having open-heart surgery.
The return of our first play-by-play announcer, Jiggs McDonald.
One by one, each member of the 1967-'68 line up walked out to the ice. One by one, each of them gave either a hello, a handshake, a hug, or a few kind words to our beloved, animated Chris Sutter, who cheered them on every step of the way.
The Triple Crown skated on the ice once again.
Rogie Vachon seemed to soak in every second.
Rob Blake walked out with authority.
Luc Robitaille beamed from ear to ear.
Wayne Gretzky was simply great.
If you've never been to a live game here at STAPLES, then you miss out on the outstanding work our in-game production crew provides. That night, they knocked it out of the park with our players introduction.
The music of Purple Haze kicked in, tied with an amazing, breathtaking light show courtesy of Unlicensed Chimp, while the names and faces of all Kings, past and present, flashed across the screens.
As we looked around, everyone- our fans, our crew, STAPLES employees and Kings employees-all watched in awe, in pride and in joy.
Because this was our history. This was us.
As our current players came onto the ice one by one, we all realized in that moment this: we're not done yet. We had an amazing 50 years, but we've got more to go. We have more history to make. More heart-stopping moments to create.
Yes, we fell to the Flyers last night. But to fall only means we will rise again. We have in the past. We can. We will.
Here's to the first 50 years, Kings fans. Always remember what we were, and believe in what we will become in the next 50 years.