x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

NHL fans will give Stanley Cup Kings the cold shoulder

A Stanley Cup championship for a team located in the southern half of the United States is often a melancholy affair for the preponderance of the sport's fans.

Los Angeles Kings fans celebrate after their team won Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals to clinch the series against the New Jersey Devils.
Los Angeles Kings fans celebrate after their team won Game Six of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals to clinch the series against the New Jersey Devils.

A Stanley Cup championship for a team located in the southern half of the United States is often a melancholy affair for the preponderance of the sport's fans.

Hockey's North American hotbed is on either side of the Canada-US border. In cities such as Detroit, Minneapolis and Boston, and certainly throughout Canada, hockey clubs often are Nos 1 or 2 sports attractions in their home markets.

The Los Angeles Kings, despite their first championship, are unlikely to budge from their lowly station in the second-biggest US city: an afterthought to the baseball Dodgers and basketball Lakers, and somewhere also behind the leading college sports powers UCLA and Southern California.Hockey insiders grasp that their sport is unlikely ever to be prominent in the sunny half of the US, even with eight NHL teams located in what is often called the Sun Belt.

Thus, the heavy sighs from "puck heads" when the Stanley Cup strays in to regions where ice does not form in nature.

The Kings were a good story, underachievers who caught fire as the play-offs began and dominated four of the league's best clubs while winning 16 of 20 games and ending a 45-year title drought.

But traditionalists will see it as a championship won by a city - the fourth in eight seasons, when the clubs in Tampa, Charlotte and Anaheim are counted - that will not appreciate it as it should. They will be hoping for a finals next year featuring clubs from a more northerly locale.

The Kings will never own Los Angeles. Not even after lifting Lord Stanley's Cup.

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