It has been a long time since many of the primary actors from the Miracle on Manchester appeared in the same room together. Tonight, to kick off the 2016-17 Legends Night series, the Kings will recognize the goal scorers from the historic 6-5 comeback playoff victory from April 10, 1982 – minus Mark Hardy, who is coaching in Tucson – as Jay Wells, Doug Smith, Charlie Simmer, Steve Bozek and Daryl Evans will be honored on the ice before the game.
More coverage of tonight’s festivities will follow after the game, but here are several words shared by Daryl Evans during the Kings’ morning skate:
Daryl Evans, on the feeling between the second and third periods, when the score was 5-0 Edmonton, and how the crescendo of confidence in the third period:
I think the big thing going into that third period was we were obviously very down being down by five goals, and the emotions were down. I but I think we kind of looked back at the first two games of the series, and by this night we were expected to get beat out on the third game of the series – the separation between the two teams was so great. So I think the way that we approached it was ‘let’s go out and win a period,’ try to carry some momentum into the next game and just kind of end this one on a positive note. That’s the mentality. I think every body kind of relaxed a little bit. Nobody was uptight, I don’t recall anybody swearing and cursing at each other. ‘Your fault,’ ‘it’s your fault,’ ‘you’re not doing this,’ ‘you’re not doing that.’ We stuck together as a group, and I think the big thing was Jay Wells scoring as early as he did in the third period. It just kind of let everybody relax a little bit. Even from our fans’ standpoint, they got a chance to actually clap their hands for the first time that night. Just everything, too, fell into place after that. By the middle of the period we were down by three, it was 5-2, so it was kind of looking respectable and if we could get one more, hey, not a bad night. When the third one came about, I think looking at the clock, everybody felt, ‘there’s a chance now if we can get another one.’ It just kind of kept going that way, and from their standpoint, you can just see the smiles getting a little smaller, a little smaller. Their grins were kind of disappearing, and all of a sudden there was a little bit of concern when it was 5-3. But I still think they felt that with the personnel that they had and the way that they played that they would still be able to overcome. It was a group without any expectations. We flew under the radar and we were able to finish off what turned out to be a very special game.
Evans, on his overtime goal celebration:
I didn’t even see it for a lot of years, but, yeah, it was kind of like, ‘What the heck was I doing?’[It was] a what was going through my head-type of thing. I think that just goes to show the emotion at that particular time. Some guys, they have – I don’t want to say premeditated – but they have stuff that they go through if they score, this or that. I was never anybody to do any of that kind of stuff when I was growing up, but whatever happened that particular night, it was spur of the moment, just the emotion coming out. Thank God there were end boards at the end of the rink, otherwise I might still be skating. I’d be huffing and puffing now, though. I wouldn’t get quite as far.
Evans, on whether he still gets vivid feelings from that night:
Yeah, from time to time. It’s funny, like, just watching that video, it never gets old. Especially if you were around people that either had never seen it or haven’t seen it for a lot of years, yeah, it is. It’s a moment that you seem to recapture. Even though it was 35 years ago, it just seems like it was yesterday when it happened. It seems like it never happened, and then when it comes about, it seems like it was yesterday. That’s what kind of makes it special, and then when you come into contact, like for instance tonight, I haven’t seen Steve Bozek since I was going to say that night, but it’s not quite that long. But I haven’t seen him for a long time. So, that’s going to be great seeing him. I had the chance to interact with Jay a little bit – Jay Wells – over the years, and we see Charlie from time to time. Doug Smith – I’ve communicated with him, but I have not seen him. To bring that group of guys back together, and having known Jim Fox still with the group, and I know Bob and Nick, they were the broadcasters, it’s going to be neat talking a little bit about it, and actually get their visions, their memories and things on it, because we all have our way of the way we interpret everything, and it’ll be interesting what their thoughts are, 35 years afterwards.
Evans, on the length of time since having seen many of his teammates:
Yeah, like I said, Steve Bozek, I have not seen for probably since a year or two after that. That time, it’s been a long while – whenever he stopped playing here in L.A., probably. Doug Smith, I communicate a little bit with him. We’ve seen Jay and Charlie and Mark Hardy, but other members of that team, I had talked to Dan Bonar a couple of times, and Mario Lessard we see up in Montreal, Jerry Korab we see from time to time in Chicago. So we get to see different pieces of guys, but to have a group of guys that we haven’t seen for a while come together, this is probably the biggest gathering of a group that we’ve had, because we’ve never really done anything to look back upon it.
Evans, on the reaction he receives from fans from that night:
It is something like that, just because of how big a lead they had and how good a team that they were that the expectation of coming back to win was not even thought of. I think that’s where a lot of people, especially now the way the game is played – hockey is so different in the NHL as opposed to 35 years ago – there’s a lot of high scoring games, but now you don’t see that type of stuff happen. I think people look back on it, and if they get a chance to kind of see some of the video on it, it’s like wow, it’s pretty cool. It just kind of brings everything back to the forefront again, especially when we get usually get to playoff time, it’s a game that always comes up in conversation. It’s something that I’m just fortunate enough to be a part of, and then the impact that I had on that particular game, I got an opportunity and happened to be in the right spot at the right time, and that was it.