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Witness To History

by Doug Ward / Los Angeles Kings

It’s been more than three decades since Daryl Evans ended the improbable comeback known as the Miracle on Manchester by blasting an overtime goal over the shoulder of Edmonton goaltender Grant Fuhr. Thirty-two years later, people still stop the Kings’ broadcaster to talk about the greatest moment in Kings history.

Only now, when people chat up Evans, they also want to hear about the night in June of 2012, when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup. Or the time two years later when Alec Martinez scored in double-overtime to secure the organization’s second Cup.  Or the way the Kings came back from a 3-0 series deficit against San Jose. Or any number of other magic moments that have been accumulating rapidly over the past three years. And Evans is more than happy to leave his individual accomplishment in the rear view mirror to celebrate the team’s present-day glories.

“The goal against Edmonton in 1982 was a great moment,” Evans says, “but I have no problem leaving it in the past.”

Evans, who has been an analyst on the Kings’ radio broadcasts for 15-plus years, needn’t worry about losing his place in franchise lore. His goal capped the greatest comeback in Stanley Cup Playoff history and will remain a seminal moment in Kings history.

No one knows that better than Evans. After spending most of adult life as the author of arguably the greatest chapter in franchise history, Evans has examined his moment from all possible angles. Today, he finds his iconic goal and its place in club annals is not so much overshadowed as it is enhanced by the events of the past three years.

“I definitely reflect back on it and a lot of people still talk about it,” Evans says. “Because the organization has now won two Stanley Cups, it gets talked about even more. Now all the moments in the team’s history are talked about along with Stanley Cups, so they are now part of a rich history. There are so many great moments to bring up now and there is so much to talk about. It puts my moment in really great company.”

Regardless of the moment’s ranking, someone always remembers, someone always wants to hear about it, and the personable Evans is always happy to oblige.

“It never gets old,” Evans says.

The 53-year-old Evans, a fitness buff who has run in several L.A. Marathons, doesn’t seem to get old, either. But nothing has aged quite as well as his signature moment. Yes, there was a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993, and countless milestones by Hall of Famers like Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille, but for a long time, nothing connected viscerally with Kings fans quite like the heroics of a 21-year-old rookie on a Saturday night in April of 1982.

Still, Evans understands why a magic moment in the first-round of the playoffs can’t possibly compare to crowning achievement of winning the Stanley Cup. And then winning a second Cup two years later.

“As kids growing up,” Evans says, “it’s all about winning the Stanley Cup. You play to win the Cup, so those are the greatest moments in Kings history. You can push my moment to a different place.”

The new greatest moment in Kings history? How do you choose just one? There are so many now, even Evans has a tough time picking the franchise’s signature moment.

“Initially, you have to look at winning the first Stanley Cup,” Evans says. “But the second one was incredibly special, too. Especially when you consider the fashion in which the Kings did it. Battling back from a 3-0 series deficit vs. San Jose, and winning three Game 7’s on the road. It’s incredibly difficult to choose between the two Stanley Cups, but I would have to say the first one.”

Fittingly, a man that is practically a living monument to the organization’s past now works hard to ensure L.A. hockey’s future will be historic. In addition to his work on the Kings’ radio network, Evans preaches and teaches hockey throughout Southern California and beyond. He spent part of his summer conducting three-day clinics in far-flung places like Valencia, Palm Springs, Escondido and Las Vegas.

“As we get older,” Evans says, “we realize that playing the game is short-lived. So I got involved in teaching and I take great pride in watching hockey grow.”

When Evans played, established teams from more traditional hockey markets did not always treat trips to California with respect. A swing through Los Angeles and the West Coast was often viewed as a frolic in the sun.

“Teams used to come to California on road trip and they would get 6-8 points, and a suntan,” Evans says. “Mostly, they would have a great time and work on their golf game.”

These days, a visit through Los Angeles, Anaheim, and San Jose is more punishing than a trip that takes a team through Toronto and Montreal.

“Visiting California,” Evans says, “is now a trip that’s called murderer’s row.”

While it’s a golden era for the entire Golden State, Evans is particularly proud to see native Southern Californians making their mark in the world of hockey.

“I take great pride in seeing kids you worked with when they were three or four years old now going to colleges in the East or being drafted,” he says.

Evans has been teaching almost as long as he has been skating. His skating skills were so bad his first year of youth hockey that he was relegated to playing in goal. When the season ended, his parents enrolled him in a power skating class that changed everything.

“It was magical,” Evans says.

He then began playing defense and, as if to repay the hockey Gods for his good fortune, Evans started teaching power skating before his 11th birthday. He’s been a teacher ever since.

“I like to stay busy,” Evans says. “I don’t want to just put my time in and leave. I have a lot of energy and I manage my time at a high level.”

Evans says he comes by his restless nature honestly.

“My dad is 85 and he is still active,” Evans says. “My mum had heart surgery and has become a dedicated walker. My parents set an example and I follow in their footsteps.”

That’s good news for Kings fans. Evans could live to be 100 and they’d still want to talk to him about the Kings’ Stanley Cups and the Miracle on Manchester. In that order, which is fine by Evans.
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