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50 Forgotten Stories: "The Miracle" Mystery

by Sheng Peng @Sheng_Peng / LAKings.com

Bob Miller -- pretty much the keeper of the franchise's history -- doesn't know. His then-partner Nick Nickson was also baffled. Long-time Kings television producer Bob Borgen isn't sure. Gordon Edes, Kings beat writer for the Los Angeles Times during the 1981-82 season, bet on Miller or Borgen having the answer. The LA Times themselves couldn't say.

 

Just who coined the nickname "The Miracle on Manchester"?

"Over the years, I've heard nobody mention who absolutely should get credit for coining that phrase," states Nickson. "It didn't come to us as broadcasters when we had the comeback -- we were all wrapped up in the moment."

Perhaps the earliest reference to LA's improbable victory as "The Miracle" came two days after the fact, in this Edes article, "A Funny Thing Happened to the Kings on Buss' Way Out of the Forum," dated April 12, 1982:

 

However, even though the phrase "The Miracle of Manchester Boulevard" appears in this Edes piece, he couldn't take credit -- Edes didn't write captions. So who wrote this caption?

"It could've been anyone at the desk on a given night," notes Edes. Reached for comment, the Times also couldn't confirm who composed the 34-year-old caption.

A week after "The Miracle," this letter appeared in the Times' sports page:

 

Did Jim Kelch from Thousand Oaks name one of the most important games in Kings history? Or did Kelch get it from elsewhere? It's a mystery which remains unsolved for now.

By 1984, the nickname was entrenched in club lore. Marcel Dionne already remembered it fondly, "What did they call it, 'The Miracle on Manchester?' It was." (McManis, Sam. "Tarnished Milestone." Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1984.)

Over 30 years later, "The Miracle" endures -- and so does the mystery which stumped over 150 years of collective Kings knowledge.

 

Daryl Evans's Forgotten Nickname

In 1982, there was perhaps no nickname more appropriate for somebody coming through in the clutch than "Reggie."

But for Daryl "Reggie" Evans, the moniker was originally given to him because some vets couldn't be bothered to say the 21-year-old rookie's proper name. Evans was "called Reggie by his teammates because they don't like Daryl." (Edes, Gordon. "A Funny Thing Happened to the Kings on Buss' Way Out of the Forum." Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1982.)

Evans remembers, "There were a couple guys, veteran players who had played with a guy many years before -- his name was Darryl Edestrand. His nickname was 'Reggie.' Initially, they couldn't get used to saying the name Daryl.


Best hair flip, ever.

"Rick Chartraw and Glenn Goldup were two of the guys that I could recall who probably initiated it.

"Then when I had the April that I had in the playoffs, it kind of picked up a little bit with Reggie Jackson being 'Mr. October.' "

"Mr. April," most famous for scoring the overtime game-winner to complete "The Miracle on Manchester," packed on a hefty 13 points in just 10 playoff contests that magical spring.

 

Two Teams, One Plane

After "The Miracle on Manchester," the Oilers pulled out Game Four at The Forum 3-2, forcing a decisive fifth game the very next night in Northlands Coliseum.

Miller remembered in his memoir Tales from the Los Angeles Kings, "Since only one charter plane could be found, both teams flew to Edmonton on the same plane...I had never heard of it happening before, and an insurance waiver had to be obtained."

However, Evans recalls two tuckered-out teams who had just finished a late tilt, "I think one word describes it: Quiet." The Oilers boarded first and sat in the back, while the Kings took the front. There was no partition between the competitors. Nonetheless, he stresses, "There wasn't a lot of conversation."

Nickson concurs, "Everybody was very professional about it."

The youthful, heavily-favored Oilers -- who had famously whooped it up on the bench as they raced out to the 5-0 lead which set the stage for "The Miracle" -- weren't laughing anymore.

The plane landed in Edmonton at about 4 AM. LA would complete the series upset later that night, making up the 48-point regular season difference between the two squads with a 7-4 triumph.

 

 

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Sheng Peng is a freelance hockey writer based out of Los Angeles, California. He covers the LA Kings and Ontario Reign for HockeyBuzz. His work has also appeared on VICE Sports, The Hockey News, and SB Nation's Jewels from the Crown.

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