Today, WUYS has a very special guest post from my friend and über Kings fan extraordinaire, Aaron Vaccaro. As you may remember, I wrote a dedication post to Aaron and my cousin Tom right before the Kings started the Stanley Cup Finals. Now that they’ve actually won it, we wanted to bring Aaron into the WUYS fold to share what it feels like to be a Kings fan right at this very moment.
Let me start off by saying it’s a good thing this isn’t a vlog otherwise you’d be watching me fill my playoff beard with tears of joy.
Here’s what you need to know about me…
My name is Aaron Vaccaro. I am a Los Angeles Kings fan. I’ve been a Los Angeles Kings fan for twenty-five of my twenty-nine years on this Earth.
Being a Kings fan has been a rough road. A very rough road. The kind of road you only expect to encounter in a third world country.
But none of that matters anymore. Because as I write this, the Kings have been Stanley Cup champions for just over twenty-four hours and I’ve had a case of goose bumps for just as long.
For those who have been living under a rock for the last two months, you unfortunately missed one of the most historical runs by any NHL team ever.
I could give you all of the record-setting facts and figures, but Chuck and Pants didn’t ask me to do a guest post to bore you with that kind of stuff. They instead asked me to try to convey what it feels like to be a Kings fan right now… Well, I’ll tell you… it’s amazing.
This has been a rollercoaster of a year for us fans as much as it was for the team itself. We came into the season with high expectations only to have them all but dashed by December, which unfortunately was not unfamiliar territory for Kings fans.
We all started to drink a lot heavier, thinking it was another season where we’d be on the outside looking in as some other team would taste the glory that we’d never gotten to taste.
But then the tide started to turn after a coaching change was made, a trade deadline acquisition brought Jeff Carter to the team, and everything started to click. The Kings managed to squeak into the playoffs and the “Team of Destiny” train left the station bound for eternal glory.
Was I at the game? No. Mainly because I’m not a celebrity, agent, doctor, lawyer, or fan willing to sell off the rights to their first born.
Okay, to be honest, I would’ve sold off the rights to my first-born if that was acceptable tender.
Do I wish I could’ve been at the game? Of course. That’s a dumb question, and I’m mad I even asked myself that.
But alas, I was instead relegated to watching the game at our local dive bar. But this wasn’t just any dive. Sure, they have PBR on tap, and a mean plate of onion rings, but they were also filled with wall-to-wall Kings fans making it the best dive bar in Los Angeles as far as I was concerned.
We were surrounded by other fellow fans that had spent years bleeding black, silver, white, purple, gold (okay, so we’ve had a lot of different jersey colors…)
There was lots of drinking, cheering, high-fiving, and bearded men hugging complete strangers, most of which were also bearded men. It was a truly beautiful site.
Up until two months ago, I was used to getting this question: “You’re a Kings fan? Why?”
My answer – “We don’t choose the teams we want to be fans of. They choose us.”
They captivate us, enthrall us, and make us realize we’ll do whatever it takes (including murdering a hobo) if that means we would get the chance to see that team win a championship. And believe me, I was close to committing homicide.
People don’t realize what it was like for us to watch the Anaheim Ducks win the Stanley Cup back in 2007.
I’ll tell you what it was like…utterly humiliating.
Not only did we have to watch a team based on Emilio Estevez movie win our trophy, but we also had to watch them do it in only fourteen seasons of existence. For those of you counting at home, it took the Kings thirty one years longer. Compound onto that every Ducks fan reminding us of this fact for the past five years and you could probably taste our pain and sorrow.
But that all ended last night. We will know longer be ridiculed. We’re once again the only team that matters in Southern California.
Los Angeles is a town that isn’t considered to have much of an identity. Geographically spread out, it’s easy to think there is no unity in this city. Hell, I even questioned it for a period of time. But these last few weeks, I’ve never felt closer to my fellow Angelenos. Sure, you can scoff and say, “Well, those are just bandwagoners. They’re not real fans.” You’re right. They probably are just bandwagoners. But who cares?! It’s people paying attention to hockey in a town where all the AM sports talk radio is completely dominated by Lakers, Clippers, and Dodgers. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of room on the bandwagon for all of you. People accuse Los Angeles of simply just “loving a winner.” Hell yeah we do. Every town loves a winner. Tell me a town that hates to see their teams win and I promise to streak naked through Downtown L.A. in nothing but my Stanley Cup champion hat.
2012 will go down as easily one of the greatest, if not the greatest years of my life. Not only did I get to witness the Kings hoist that beautiful piece of metal, but I’m also getting married to the love of my life in three weeks. It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.
Ooh! Unless I can convince Dustin Brown to spend his day with the Cup at our wedding. Anybody got his number?
I couldn’t be more proud to call myself a Kings fan for these past twenty-five years and have no doubt I will be one till my dying breath. Because that’s what it means to love a team this much. Now, go enjoy yourselves, Kings. You deserve it. We did it, boys…
Go Kings Go!