For fans that have only been following the Kings since their move downtown to Staples Center, tonight’s game doesn’t mean much – other than the two points at stake in the Western Conference.
However, for long time fans, a game against the Flames stirs emotions from nearly 20 years ago when Calgary versus Los Angeles was one that everybody circled on their calendar.
After the Kings traded for Wayne Gretzky in ’88 things really started to heat up – even though Calgary fans already had issues with the Great One from his days in Edmonton and the scars left by The Battle of Alberta games.
Once the playoffs rolled around after Wayne’s first season in LA though…well, it was on. The Kings were fresh off a first round win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers (a thrilling 7 game series). Unfortunately, the Kings lost to Calgary in the second round that year – while the Flames went on to win the Cup.
With a rivalry now in full swing it was inevitable the two teams would meet again in the playoffs the following year. Once again, the Kings defeated the reigning Stanley Cup Champions in the playoffs, dispatching the Flames and any thoughts they had of a repeat run. Perhaps even more memorable was Mike Krushelnyski‘s overtime goal in game six. Take a look – it’s one of those goals that will replayed forever…
The Kings went on to win the Smythe Division in 1990-91 and then made their own run to the Cup finals in ’92-93. Along the way there were plenty of other memorable games vs the Flames, with lots of penalties…and some fines and suspensions too.
For example, in March of ’91 Kings coach Tom Webster was suspended four games after an altercation with the Flames’ Doug Gilmour. But, he was just getting warmed up. The following season Webster was suspended again, this time for 12 games (!), and fined $10k for throwing a stick at referee Kerry Fraser.
Then, there were the players. Long before there was ever a Sean Avery, there was the original pest – a diminutive man in height with a heart and drive like no other. Theo Fleury was the guy who everybody loved to hate. And then hate some more. If you went to those games at the Forum, you have to remember the lady that sat near the penalty box with her cowbell. If only she could have suited up for a game or two.
Lastly, let’s not forget Olli Jokinen. In 1997 he was the Kings first round draft pick and supposedly the future of the franchise. Just two years later – with the Kings about to move into Staples Center – he was sent packing for Ziggy Palffy. He’s now on his second tour of duty with the Flames.
Plenty of memories between two teams that are scratching and clawing their way up the Western Conference standings this season.
Who knows – perhaps come Spring, they’ll meet again.
note: portions of this article were originally published on MayorsManor prior to a Flames-Kings game in 2009
Interview with Kerry Fraser – talking about Tom Webster’s stick throwing
Interview with Tony Granato – talking LA Kings rivalries