LOS ANGELES — The Stanley Cup barely had the Los Angeles Kings' fingerprints on it before Darryl Sutter suggested they should start preparing to win it again.
"The first thing you think about as a coach, these guys are all young enough, they've got to try it again," the coach said Monday night, mere moments after raising the Cup for the first time himself.
That's just how a pragmatic farmer from Alberta thinks about everything, and Sutter didn't allow his mental preparations for a sequel to stop him from celebrating this irreplaceable moment with his players.
The Kings partied until well after midnight at a restaurant overlooking the Staples Center ice, where Los Angeles completed its 16-4 rampage through the postseason to the franchise's first NHL title.
After nearly 45 years without a Cup, after 41/2 decades with one division title and one conference crown to show for their existence, and after eight straight years from 2002-10 without making the playoffs, Los Angeles and its Kings had earned every minute of it.
Music boomed and drinks flowed for a few hundred friends, family members and Kings employees hanging with the players. Everybody seemingly got a chance to raise the Cup above their heads for triumphant photos, and a few unhappy toddlers were forced to sit in the bowl. The Conn Smythe Trophy also attended, and plenty of people borrowed Jonathan Quick's hardware long enough to chant "M-V-P!" for themselves.
The Kings weren't thinking much about how they became the first eighth seed to win a title, or how they won 10 straight road games this spring, or how they made the second-fastest run in modern NHL history to the Stanley Cup.
They already knew.
"It's got to come from the room, and guys have to make a decision to work," said Quick, the record-setting goalie who carried the Kings through long stretches of the regular season. "I think we did that. You can't say enough about this group and how hard they worked."
And then everybody danced, ate and sang at a party 45 years in the making. Later, several players took the Cup to one of their favorite pubs in Hermosa Beach, one of the beautiful South Bay seaside towns where nearly all of the Kings live when they aren't chasing hockey hardware.
This party will go on all week, too. The Cup and several Kings are scheduled to make appearances on "The Tonight Show" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and a parade down Figueroa Street is scheduled for Thursday, with thousands of Southern California's devoted hockey fans expected to turn out for their first title celebration.
Los Angeles is a hockey town right now, with everything from downtown postgame celebrations to congratulatory billboards hung around the city, including a greeting from Patron tequila on the iconic Sunset Strip. Thousands of drivers are flying Kings colors on the city's much-mocked car flags, and the parade should be a culmination of the best time in club history since Wayne Gretzky ruled the Forum.
It's good to be a King, whether you're rookie surprise Dwight King or any King at all. And they've got no reason to think next year can't be just as exciting.
The Kings' surge actually began in the regular season when a talented roster came together in the final 20 games or so. Although they never even faced elimination in the postseason, it was a distinct possibility during the regular season, when they didn't clinch a playoff spot until right before their 81st game.
Los Angeles was a changed team after a high-risk trade of puck-moving defenseman Jack Johnson for power forward Jeff Carter, who scored two goals — including what turned out to be the game-winner — in the Kings' 6-1 Cup-clinching victory over New Jersey in Game 6.
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