LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings and their fans waited 45 years to raise a Stanley Cup banner to the rafters. Then they waited three more months, thanks to the NHL lockout.
After all that waiting around, even the disappointment of the blowout loss that followed Saturday's ceremony couldn't completely ruin the Kings' first championship celebration.
The Kings recognized last June's Stanley Cup triumph in a joyous ceremony before their season opener, receiving their championship rings and showing off the Stanley Cup before their 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Although the defeat tempered the party, the Kings savored a day to enjoy their unlikely title.
"We enjoyed it, but we'll try to learn from it as well," captain Dustin Brown said. "To see our banners going up, and then at the same time not being as sharp as we want to be, it's a mixed feeling. We didn't come out and play as well as we wanted."
With help from the family of a victim of the Sandy Hook massacre, the Kings hung their black-and-white banner in the rafters at Staples Center and received their Tiffany rings. The ceremony was the culmination of Los Angeles' improbable run through the postseason last year, when the Kings became the first eighth-seeded team to capture the Cup.
"We took a moment to appreciate it, to look back, but now we've got to move forward," said defenseman Rob Scuderi, who matched his entire goal total from last season with the Kings' first goal against Chicago.
"If we use last season as a focus and a crutch to lean on, we're going to be out of this season pretty quick. It might seem like a tough switch to flick, and we made some mistakes, but both teams were rusty. They just executed better than us."
The Kings hadn't played on the Staples Center ice since June 11, when they completed a six-game victory over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup finals. With the 6-1 win, the Second Six franchise finally secured its first NHL championship.
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick got off to a rocky start following offseason back surgery, giving more goals in the first 22 minutes against Chicago than he allowed in any playoff game last summer.
"It felt good to be back out there, but we weren't able to accomplish what we wanted to do," said Quick, who allowed five goals in a game only once last season.
"Obviously it's a long time between games, but it really didn't seem like that long. It felt great to be playing again and to have that celebration, but we know it's time to get to work."
The pregame party began with a lengthy video presentation in the darkened arena while fans waved glowsticks, Nancy Anschutz — the wife of Kings owner Phil Anschutz — handed the ring boxes to the players as they skated to center ice.