For Kings fans, it's been a long -- really long -- wait for Cup
Jim Ferguson spent two hours on the train Monday afternoon on his way up to Los Angeles from Oceanside for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center.
But that's nothing compared to the time Ferguson, 64, has been waiting for a Kings Stanley Cup championship.
"Forty-five years," he said with a smile. "This is on the bucket list for sure."
Ferguson, a hockey fanatic who attended the Kings' first regular season game in October 1967, was among the hundreds gathered for a pregame celebration at L.A. Live. The party included dance music, raffles, a beer garden and live TV.
"This is what you live for as a sports fan.... You just have to soak it in," said Fredy Escamilla, a 30-year-old fan whose wife, Kimberly, shaved "LA KINGS" into the back of his hair earlier Monday.
From inside the plaza it was clear the Kings had taken over L.A. Live, a spot typically dominated this time of year by Lakers fans. Many in the crowd wore thick, black Kings sweaters, or T-shirts with the team's logo. High above, black and white balloons floated over a makeshift street hockey court.
And the statues of local sports heroes outside the venue -- Magic Johnson, Oscar De La Hoya and Jerry West -- were all outfitted with hockey jerseys.
Therese Lent called the scene "overwhelming" as she walked in with her husband, Chris Albright. The couple have been going to games since the early 1980s and hold season tickets at the top row of Staples Center. Albright was wearing a faded yellow "Dave Taylor Diehards" jersey, a reference to the team's former defenseman who was later the general manager.
"After all these years, this is my first actual cup game," he said. "And I'm feeling confident, with the way the team's been playing so far."
"I'm scared to death!" his wife responded.
Ferguson showed off memorabilia he'd collected during his five decades as a supporter of the Kings, including an old ticket stub from the team's last Stanley Cup home game in 1993 (retail price $47).
"It feels like the end of a long journey," he said. "It's like climbing Everest -- the peak is within reach but the last few games are always the toughest."
-- Sam Allen at Staples Center
Photo: Los Angeles Kings fans pose Monday with a replica Stanley Cup before the game. Credit: Getty Images