By Stu Hackel
This, finally, could be the night that fast-talking Jack Kent Cooke envisioned in 1966 when he plunked down $2 million for an NHL expansion franchise. He called his new team the Kings, dressed them regally in gold and purple (which he’d later call “Forum Blue”), had them briefly play home games at the Long Beach Arena in 1967 before moving them to his new “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood, and — as Sports Illustrated’s Pete Axthelm reported in a cover story near the end of their first season — believed they could win the Stanley Cup that spring.
Now, a mere 45 years later, it is possible. More than possible, it is very likely. Whether it happens tonight or Saturday night or some time next week, chances are that the Sun Belt’s first hockey team will hoist the Cup for the first time. The Kings’ dominance, on full display in their 4-0 shutout of the Devils in Game 3, has turned a dramatic playoff year anticlimactic. All that’s left is the coronation.
Before that, however, the Kings must get their fourth victory. Three times this postseason, they have had a chance to sweep a series with a win on home ice. They’ve only managed to do it once. You know what they say in the playoffs: That fourth game really is the hardest to win.