By Susan Valot
The vibe at the Redondo Beach Café is mellow. The Pacific Ocean is only a couple blocks away. Flip flops are the norm. But this time of year, it’s L.A. Kings jerseys – and a lot of shouting.
Eighty-seven-year-old Andre Martin had a front row seat for Game Three on Monday. He’s been a Kings fan for 40 years now, almost since the beginning, and he wants to see them win. ”It’d be fantastic,” Martin said. “That’s what we need. That’s what we need. We need the Cup.”
Russ Hansen was one booth over. He’s a Canadian who became a Kings fan when he moved to L.A. 12 years ago. He described this season by using an analogy not often heard in sunny L.A.
“To have started out rated number eight in the playoffs and to knock off, you know, the above seeds each way along has been amazing,” Hansen said. “I mean, it’s a run that the momentum has just completely – you know, it’s like a snowball going down a hill. There’s no stopping them now.”
Long-time Kings fan Sheri Underwood said it’s hard to believe what’s happening to the Kings. “They’re like a team of destiny this year,” she said. “They really are. I mean, they’ve been outplayed. They’ve been outshot. But I don’t know what it is. I mean, there’s just some sort of miracle. It’s almost like watching that Olympic team, you know? That team of destiny that year? They weren’t the best team, really, but they sure did just have something special that year.”
At a bowling alley/bar across from Staples Center, about 500 people packed in to watch Game 4 of the Kings-Devils series.
Kings fan Dave Kerns has been waiting about 20 years for this. “Your whole life, you wait for the pretty girl at the dance,” he said. “You’re 84. You’re on your death bed. And all of a sudden, she walks up, and she says, ‘I will go to the dance with you.’ That’s what this is like. That’s what this is like right here.”
Kerns’ friend, Matt Murray, wore an old-school purple and gold Kings jersey, with matching purple and gold face paint that his friends described as “half ultimate warrior, half Braveheart.”
“If this team was in Montreal, it would be on every news channel,” Murray said. “They would start its own channel, you know what I mean? But because it’s here in Los Angeles, they share it with the Lakers. They share it with USC. They’re just kind of shoved into a corner. Until they can start winning, that’s what’s going to make it a little more respectable.”
Murray pointed out the Kings’ home-grown status accounts for much of the team’s appeal. “Everyone else came from elsewhere, but the Kings started in Los Angeles, so this team is engrained in this culture of Southern California,” he said. ”That’s why this means so much to the fans. That’s why it means so much to the city of Los Angeles. The city is willing this Cup run. And they’re gonna win it.”