Capturing a Fleeting Moment

If you’re anything like me, then there are countless moments in your life that are too easily forgotten.

As I sat among the thousands of LA Kings fans at the Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony, it finally dawned on me how lucky I was to be a fan of the franchise. However, without the joke-in-passing help of Jesse Cohen, there’s a chance I may have never realized it.

Seeing this on my timeline made me chuckle for a few seconds. It was a ridiculous exchange between friends that perfectly painted a picture of how I felt at the time.

But reading that tweet again gave the entire moment a whole new context. I was so overcome with emotion while watching this two-minute highlight reel that everything from that two-month stretch came flooding back. From the pain of the first three games against the San Jose Sharks to seeing the Kings lift the Stanley Cup in person for the second time, I just couldn’t believe how much that journey meant to me.

Diehard fans know all too well that their team will break their heart more times than they are able to count. It’s a terrible position to put yourself in for those who live and die with their team. In all likelihood you didn’t choose the team that you’ve become so attached to. No, instead, this glorious honor of hoping your team succeeds has been bestowed upon you for reasons beyond your control.

My parents introduced me to the Kings and, for the first 20+ years of my Kings fandom, I thought there was no chance I’d ever see them win a Stanley Cup. I mean, if Wayne Gretzky couldn’t do it, no one could.

Still, I stuck around. A quarter of my life spent cheering for the payoff I never thought would happen – I’m pretty sure if I explained this all to a psychiatrist who had no idea what professional sports were I would instantly be committed.

Then the seemingly impossible happened in 2012.

Then it happened again in 2014.

Then I was completely spoiled.

I spent the first few hours following the Kings second Stanley Cup win celebrating with friends into the waning hours of the night. The euphoria carried on as we were fortunate enough to see the Stanley Cup in person a few times throughout the summer. Life was good, but it also marches on. And with October upon us, it was time to start the process all over.

A new season. Time to move on. The magic of sports is that they present us with something other aspects of life do not: a reset button. Each year is a new chance to start from scratch, to hope, to foolishly believe that this year will be the year. It may very well be the best thing about sports. And regardless of which team you root for, you are connected with every fan across the world with that same optimism and promise that the new season has provided.

Then I see Alec Martinez’s goal on the scoreboard.

Then I realize the slate has been wiped clean once more.

Then I find myself reading Jesse’s tweet again.

Too often I let moments fade away. I don’t think it’s a big deal because life seems like it will present countless more moments to capture and cherish. I know (hope) that my favorite hockey team winning a championship won’t be the biggest moment in my life, but it was a big moment. A moment that should be marked and remembered, and not one that should have taken a visual cue to remind.

Then I truly begin to appreciate everything that happened during that magical stretch last spring. The sleepless nights, the constant stress, the self-medication, the comforting words offered by those closest to me, the sheer joy as each series ended with me jumping into the arms of friends, family and strangers alike – all of those gut-wrenching, soul-twisting feelings that accompanied the games are what made the Stanley Cup run truly special.

And here I was waiting for it all to start again. Because that’s what sports do. They move on.

But before the moment is completely gone, I needed to write it down because I didn’t want to forget how special everything that led up to the culmination was.

It’s fitting that the Stanley Cup banner was raised with the San Jose Sharks in the building. I originally saw it as an opportunity to rub salt in a gaping wound – and it was – but the immediacy of the night removed, it also gave me a chance to observe the few Sharks fans sprinkled throughout the arena and see how much they reminded me of a younger version of myself from years gone by.

Sports are a cruel thing. There’s no guaranteed payoff for your years of loyalty. There have been thousands upon thousands fans who lived their entire lives without seeing their team win. But we still head into each new season hoping, praying, pleading that this will be the year that makes it all worth it.

In this silly transcendent moment after reading Jesse’s tweet, I looked at a group of invading Sharks fans who came to witness the Kings banner being raised – self-deprecation at its finest – and hoped that they will one day understand the sentiment I have while recalling the long strange road that I went down with my fellow Kings fans last season.

Not because I ever want to see their team win, it’s just an indescribable feeling that I hope every long-suffering sports fan is able to experience once in their lifetime. Even if it’s only for a moment.

PumperNicholl is a lifelong LA Kings fan and actually learned how to speak English from Bob Miller by watching LA Kings games… and the Police Academy movies. You should probably follow PumperNicholl on Twitter @pumpernicholl