‘Look at this f’in’ team right here’: The Kings’ beach party rocks Staples Center

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(AP Photo/Grant Hindsley)
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick waves to the crowd while holding the Conn Smythe Trophy during a rally for the Kings’ Stanley Cup win today at Staples Center.

The Stanley Cup isn’t damaged goods.

Not yet. Probably not ever. It’s too valuable, on many levels.

But oh, the places it’s been over the last 72 hours, since the Kings claimed it after clinching the NHL championship in Game 6 at Staples Center last Monday.

Quite a little bender, minus the dents.

“I don’t know if I can really say . . .,” began Kings winger Jeff Carter when quizzed about it this morning, prior to the short-but-sweet parade up Figueroa Blvd., and witnessed by an estimated 250,000.

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Dustin Brown’s two little boys blew chocolate milk bubbles in it from
their playroom at home. Jonathan Quick dragged it over to his local
watering hole in Hermosa Beach.

Jimmy Kimmel tried to drink beer out of it when the team hoisted it onto the set of his late-night TV show in Hollywood the other night — but they dumped the brew all over the host instead.

That was just a couple hours after it was in Burbank for the edification of Jay Leno’s audience on “The Tonight Show.”

Wednesday night, it became part of the pregame ceremonies at Dodger Stadium, with Dodgers and Angels players posing with it.

Thursday afternoon, it went to the people.

This Cup runneth over with as much admiration as a supposed nave stick-and-puck city could muster, in what unfolded as probably the largest downtown beach party ever celebrated for the sport’s most prized possession.

How beachy was it?

The caravan of double-decker busses carrying Kings players, family and personnel – most wearing shorts and flip-flops along with their jerseys — was supposed to have pulled out already from out in front of Staples Center, reaching the start of the parade route at 5th and Figueroa by noon.

But it was 11:52 p.m., there was one player missing.

On cue, the elevator doors inside Staples Center opened, and the Conn Smythe winner and potential Vezina Trophy recipient came out lugging a giant red party tub.

Quick, whose work in goal was most directly responsible for the Kings winning their first Stanley Cup in the 45-year franchise history, perhaps made his greatest save of the postseason.

Sporting oversized sunglasses and a blue Dodgers cap, Quick, who looked not even old enough to have a valid driver’s license, quickly carried the tub filled with plastic drinking cups for everyone to enjoy on the double-decker busses. They began their journey with a low-speed cruise up a couple exits on the Harbor Freeway, as cars passing by honked their horns.

Not surprisingly, when more than 18,000 fans, some of whom even paid scalpers for the otherwise free entry tickets, found their way into the arena after the parade, where the ice was just Zambonied as if there’d be another game to play.

The sun didn’t stop shining as the team’s Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller made everyone recite – at the start and then at the end — on the count of three: “The Kings are the Stanley Cup champions!”

It laughed loudest when L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson admitted: “I drank a beer with Quicky on the float.”

It roared even longer when Quick, wearing black checkered short pants, dropped a four-letter word three times in his speech to the fans.

“I’m on this f-in’ team … Look at this f-in’ team,” he said. “Look at these f-in’ guys.”

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This was just another kind of surreal L.A. day when KCBS Channel 2 reporter Jim Hill could get away with a live interview with Bailey, the Kings’ giant stuffed mascot, and actually procure pertinent information.

All is great, the lion reported, not even in muffled tones.

It was a classic L.A. day when a balding fan wearing faded-out and barely-still-sewn-together yellow Vachon jersey could stand on a parade route shoulder to shoulder with his son, in his own a white Gretzky jersey, carrying his young daughter, who had on a black Kopitar T-shirt, and all was perfect in the world.

It was a bizarre L.A. day when there was no line going into Pantry restaurant at lunchtime – and all the waiters in their white shirts and dark pants were outside snapping pictures on their cellphone of the procession going by.

It was a nutty L.A. day when bitter-beer faced Darryl Sutter not only
smiled, but the coach pumped his arm and first in a Kirk Gibson-like
gesture before asking the people present: “Enjoy it and stay out of trouble.”

The statue of Wayne Gretzky could stand outside Staples Center — an arena he never played in — and stayed in a perpetual wave. Fans waved back, many who remember when he made his final Stanley Cup appearance in a Kings’ uniform in 1993.

That was a lost opportunity. This was paradise found.

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(AP Photo/Grant Hindsley)
The Kings’ Jordan Nolan, Dwight King, and Jeff Carter watch a video of their journey through the playoffs celebrating the team’s Stanley Cup championship at Staples Center today.

The players sitting at center ice were mesmerized as they cranked their heads to watch a highlight video of their season on the scoreboard above, some clearly caught up in the moment and tearing up, as they saw themselves carrying the Stanley Cup around on the
same ice after Game 6.

“Once you get your hands on it, you just don’t want to let go,” Mike Richards, the veteran brought in from Philadelphia before the season
to add leadership, said about winning the Stanley Cup.

“Now maybe we’ve screwed ourselves on setting the bar too high from here on,” laughed another Kings veteran, Dustin Penner, who celebrated a Stanley Cup victory with the rival Anaheim Ducks not so long ago.

Anaheim just had a so-called “rally” for that 2007 Cup-winning team. The team and city were concerned that a parade wouldn’t draw enough fans.

The Kings’ straight-shot parade route may not have been as long and winding as some seen in downtown to celebrate some of the Lakers’ NBA championships of the past. But you wait long enough, and one of any length is perfectly fine.

“We Are The Champions,” the song created more than 30 years ago and blasted during thousands of championship celebrations before, was resurrected inside Staples Center. The song sung by Queen. Played for the Kings. It seemed appropriate.

The Stanley Cup’s journey will be chronicled over the next few months, as players take it to their hometown, use to inspire youth hockey teams, let their family actually touch it as if their own dreams had come true.

But for some Kings players, they’ve already had their special moment.

Kevin Westgarth, the so-called enforcer who was singled out by his
teammates on the Kimmel show as being the one they suspected would do the craziest thing when he had the Cup to himself, relayed “a quite tame” moment he was in the trophy’s presence the other night.

He and Quick sat on the roof deck of their Hermosa Beach place, just before midnight. The Cup was there, too. Just the three of them.

“We just looked at each other, at the Cup,” said Westgarth. “We were living in the moment. It was a beautiful thing.”

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The Associated Press

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