The Los Angeles Kings aren’t strangers to this dance.
Having won two Stanley Cups in three seasons, they’ve been through the post-championship ringer – the after party at the North End Bar and Grill, the celebrations on the beach, and heck, within four days of having won it in 2012 there were gaudy celebrations in Las Vegas nightclubs.
And while this week will certainly represent the celebration of a lifetime, it’s one for a team in which 17 players are two years older from their previous NHL title.
“We just party a bit, relax a little bit,” Jonathan Quick said. “You get to eat some greasy food. You’re not worried about your diet for a few days, which is fun. It’s good. It’s a good experience.”
They’re not worried about their diet, which is good, because they’d love to gorge themselves on future titles, rings and banners – even if they weren’t as inclined to look that far ahead.
“We’re hockey players. We’re not guys who go out there and gloat and self-proclaim anything,” Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams said. “We’re happy with what we’ve done. But do we feel we have a lot more, the potential to be a great team for years to come? Yeah.”
Not that the results of the last two months would have made you think otherwise, but when asking any player on the team to describe the backbone of the success generated when faced with seven elimination games, the responses were nearly universal. It was the players adjacent to, diagonal from and opposite them in the team’s dressing room.
“We’ve got a great group of guys,” Quick said. “Whether we were able to win or not, it wouldn’t have changed how much we enjoy just going to the rink and stuff that starts to seem tedious at some point for a lot of teams. For us, I think it’s something that we enjoy to do. We have a lot of fun with it.”
With 18 players including the team’s developed core under contract for next year – Marian Gaborik, Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell are unrestricted free agents, while Dwight King is a restricted free agent – it does appear as though the team will be positioned to offer a promising defense of its title in 2014-15.;
“Like I said, we’ve got a great group,” Quick said. “I feel like around the league too, there are a lot teams that are very similar, some great young players and great core, great leaders. That’s how the league is set up to make it challenging. There are going to be a lot of teams that are in the mix again next year. At some point you have to start over and start to rebuild again. We’re one of 30 teams. Right now we’re one of one, but we’re one of 30 for next year.”
Spurred on by a crowd estimated at 300,000 people, the Kings brought the party to Downtown Los Angeles on Monday.
“It’s crazy, but it’s always been real passionate fans here and it’s good to reward them with a good team,” Matt Greene said.
Jonathan Quick, on how Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup:
Obviously it was a lot of dramatic games and it was a lot different than last time. Last time it felt like we would get a lead and just kind of hang onto it and win games that way. This way, there were a lot of games where we gave them the lead and then have to work real hard to get it back. It’s special. It’s fun to be a part of it.
Quick, on seeing the fans at the parade:
We’re looking forward to it. I know two years ago it was really special, the support we got. We’re expecting that again.
Matt Greene, on how much fun he has had since winning the Stanley Cup:
A good amount. Yeah, it’s been fun, just a good chance to relax a little bit, get a couple days off.
Greene, on what he loves about the team:
Just a lot of guys that get the luxury of being able to play with a lot of these guys for a long time. I think I’ve been here for six years now, and it’s a lot of the same core guys. Guys really like each other, really care about each other. They enjoy being around each other, so it’s a lot of fun.
Greene, on what he expects from the parade:
It’s a good time because it gives the fans a chance to be a part of it. That’s what makes it a special place to play, is the fans and it’s always nice to support them and give back to them a little bit.
Greene on whether he appreciates winning the Stanley Cup more this year:
Yeah, I think so. Any time you get a chance to raise that trophy, win the last game of the year, you’re always happy. It doesn’t matter how you did it. It’s a pretty special mood right now.
Greene, on whether this Stanley Cup is more special than it was two years ago:
It’s the same. You get a chance to win it, you’re not going to ask why or how or if it’s more special. You’re just going to enjoy it.
Greene, on how much time he spent with the Stanley Cup over the weekend:
Yeah, around the rink and that was it and a couple guy’s houses. It’s been good.
Greene, on if he knows what he is going to with the Stanley Cup:
I’ll probably just go home. Go back to Michigan and that’s it, or maybe go to North Dakota.
Justin Williams, on the team enjoying playing together:
Everybody gets along within our room. You always play harder for the guys you love. Within our dressing room, that’s exactly what it is.
Williams, on how winning the Stanley Cup this time was different:
It was an emotional, exhausting ride. For us to come out on top after you poured everything that you had into it and it was good enough, words can’t describe it.