Unfortunately for Kings fans, there haven’t been too many great moments in the franchise’s 47-year history. The Los Angeles Kings have maintained the status of contender for the majority of their tenure in the NHL. The Kings have made a respectable 27 playoff appearances, although their 17-26 series record in the playoffs is a bit on the depressing side. In fact, the team was a dismal 11-25 before 2012.
5. 1993 Conference Championship
The Kings didn’t have their best season, primarily because Gretzky was injured for the most of it. They did manage to make the playoffs, which Gretzky was healthy for. They won both the divisional semifinal and final series 4-2, over the Calgary Flames and Canucks, respectively. The team then faced the Toronto Maple Leafs in the conference finals.
The Maple Leafs had a 3-2 series lead going into Game 6, which the Kings ended up winning in overtime with a goal from The Great One himself. Game 7 was won by the Kings, and Gretzky is known for saying that his performance in the game was his best ever. Sport Illustrated listed the series as one of the best Conference Finals ever. The Kings went on to lose in the Stanley Cup Finals, in their first ever appearance, to the Canadians 4-1.
4. The 1990-91 Season
This was the first and only season that the Kings won their division, and they did it with an impressive 46-24-10 record. The season couldn’t have been the success that it was had Gretzky not had one of his best seasons as a captain. He set the record for the most consecutive games with an assist at 23 (48 total assists during the streak), and he finished the season with 122 assists and 163 points.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the season didn’t translate to an impressive playoff run. They did win their first series against the Canucks, but ended up losing in the divisional final to the Oilers.
3. The 1989 Division Semifinals
In Gretzky’s first year with the team, they made it to the playoffs. In the first round they were matched up against the team that Gretzky had helped win the Cup just the year before, the Oilers. The heavily favored Oilers jumped out to a quick 3-1 series lead, which meant the Kings were just one game from being eliminated from the playoffs.
The Kings battled back to tie the series 3-3. They won the last game of the series on the back of Gretzky.
2. The Trade
As the story goes, Wayne Gretzky (aka The Great One) found out that the Edmonton Oilers were going to trade him just two hours after he helped them win the 1988 Stanley Cup. The Kings traded away the world to get The Great One: $15 million, three first-round draft picks (’89, ’91, ’93), and several other players were included in the trade from both sides.
The trade shocked not only the hockey world, but also Canada itself. There were actions made within the Canadian government itself to block the trade, but ultimately the trade went through and Gretzky became a King in L.A. Just after the trade, LA Times columnist Jim Murray wrote an article titled He’ll Bring L.A. Hockey Out of Ice Age. He went on to describe the importance of the trade to the Kings and finished off the article by simply saying, “He’s put hockey on Page 1. In Los Angeles” and Murray was right.
1. 2012 Stanley Cup Championship
Obviously the team’s only championship would have to be ranked as the franchise’s top moment. But this was one of the best playoff performances of all time going an impressive 16-4 during their run. In the conference quarterfinals, the Kings won the series 4-1 over the Vancouver Canucks. They then went on to sweep the St. Louis Blues in the semis and blew through the Phoenix Coyotes in the conference finals, 4-1.
After beating the Coyotes, the Kings were heading to just their second Stanley Cup Final ever. Going into the series, Betfair named them the favorite to win the Cup with 1.95 odds. What was even more impressive, they were given those great odds before even finishing off the Coyotes. The Kings lived up to their hype by beating the New Jersey Devils in six games, and took home their first Stanley Cup.
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