Though relatively young, the Los Angeles Kings are an experienced team with a recently stitched banner hanging from the rafters at Staples Center. There are 17 players from the 2012 Stanley Cup team that remain on the active roster, and two players – Justin Williams and Colin Fraser – will be playing for their third ring.
Naturally, those who have played for and won Stanley Cups are able to easily articulate what it means to be playing for the most recognizable trophy in sports, and the honors that hockey has provided them.
“I’m thankful and appreciative for everything that hockey has given me,” Williams said. “It’s given me an opportunity to obviously meet some great people and ultimately a chance for me to battle the Stanley Cup and fortunately win it a few times. I’m certainly humbled and grateful I’ve had the opportunity to do that.”
Willie Mitchell, who was 35 when he won a Cup for the first time in 2012, eloquently spoke about his route from hoisting the Cup on the Staples Center ice to missing an entire season due to injury to returning in the preseason and once again finding himself in a position to contend for another title.
Williams and Matt Greene are playing in their third Stanley Cup Final – the two opposed each other when Carolina and Edmonton faced each other in 2006 – and both spoke about how each path to playing in June has its own unique features.
“It’s different, but it’s equally special to be here and sitting here and having a chance to play for another Stanley Cup,” Williams said. “It doesn’t come easy. Everybody says that, but to play it and feel it and know it, it makes you realize it a lot more.”
“It’s a little bit different. It’s still exciting, though. It’s still fun,” Greene said. “You get the rush out of doing it, and if you make it this far, you make sure that you want to win.”