L.A. Kings' First Stanley Cup Win 'Unbelievable'
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
The screams have died down and the playoff beards are coming off, but hockey fans in Southern California are still celebrating. The L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup last night, the first championship in the team's 45-year history.
As NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, many fans say the long wait just makes the victory sweeter.
CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: The screaming and cheering was part relief, part joy for fans last night spilling out of the North End Bar and Grill in Hermosa Beach, southwest of downtown L.A.
RYAN HANNIBAL: It's awesome. It's unbelievable having the cup here in L.A.
KAHN: It's been a long, long wait, says Ryan Hannibal. Everyone in the bar seemed to be posing for pictures with the life-sized blow-up replica of the Stanley Cup being passed around. Many of the Kings players live in this neighborhood and are regulars here at the bar, which made the victory even more special, says Becky Newell.
BECKY NEWELL: We won. We've got the cup. I'm so excited. I cried. I did. I admit it. I cried.
KAHN: By morning, the crying and screaming had subsided, but many fans were still pinching themselves, making sure the victory wasn't just a dream.
A group of teens in a hockey camp wait to get on the ice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, where the Kings practice. Nathan McKinnon says he just can't believe they finally did it.
NATHAN MCKINNON: It's amazing. Everyone's waited, you know, their whole lives for the Kings to win, so it's awesome.
KAHN: But how old are you?
MCKINNON: I'm 16.
KAHN: People have waited longer than that.
MCKINNON: Yeah, I know. I know. I know.
KAHN: McKinnon didn't - or rather couldn't - grow a hockey beard this year. It's supposedly bad luck to shave once your team is in the playoffs. Fifty-something John Riggs has a full one, but hasn't had time to shave it off yet. He was out celebrating until the early hours, then here for his regular Tuesday pickup game with friends.
When are you going to do it?
JOHN RIGGS: Probably this week. Throughout the week, I'm going to shave a little piece here, a little piece there, make it fun.
KAHN: Riggs just lost the game to his friend, Ian Turnbull. Turnbull played 10 years in the NHL with one year for the Kings. He never won the cup and says he hopes these young players appreciate it.
IAN TURNBULL: Some of the older guys understand how difficult it is to get there. There's a lot of guys that played, had good careers and didn't win it.
KAHN: Most of the players on the Kings team are young and most have signed on for multiyear contracts. That has L.A. fans already talking about a repeat next year.
Carrie Kahn, NPR News.
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