Memories From The Desert



Like a war cry, Indiana Matt’s voice bounced off of the faux-cliffs surrounding the MGM’s Lazy River. I’ve never seen someone so happy, so in their element. There was a sparkle in his eye as he floated away, bouncing up and down in his inner tube, clutching a slushy purple alcoholic concoction dubbed “Luc Robitussin” by PumperNicholl. Right before he disappeared from view around the river bend, I caught sight of him high-fiving a guy in a Kings hat.

I pulled the brim of my hat down over my eyes and relaxed atop my own tube, letting the warmth of the Las Vegas sun beat down upon my pale, pale body. For a moment, I almost forgot where I was, until Pumper mercilessly shoved me into a giant waterfall that startled me back into the present moment.

As I paddled back to the group, The Royal Half looked at me, laughed, and shook his head. Casting an outstretched arm toward the ridiculous sea of Kings fans relaxing in the desert sun like a monarch surveying his land, The Half sighed. “What a country, huh?”

So, I thought, this is Frozen Fury.

It’s an event that I’ve wanted to attend for years, but never pulled the trigger on actually going to.

I was missing out.

Not because of the game (it was awesome!), or because it’s in Vegas (I love Vegas!), or because there’s a chance to see the players in their natural element (gambling and drinking).

Frozen Fury made a lasting impression on me because of people like you.

Yes, you, reading this blog post. Last weekend, my eyes were truly opened — not just to the extent of Kings’ fans devotion, and how numerous we are, but to the incredible sense of community we’ve created.

If you listened to the post-Frozen Fury podcast, you heard us talk about how startling it is to see waves upon waves of Kings fans descend upon an area that isn’t Staples Center. You truly don’t get a sense for how many of us there are, until you realize that the person in front of you in the line for midnight Mexican food is wearing a Doug Zmolek jersey.

The most gratifying thing for me personally was to interact with so many amazing fans, and particularly those who were familiar with The Royal Half blog and my writing. To have so many people reference my WCF Game 6 recap was an eye-opener, and incredibly humbling. While I was returning some Bud Light Lime from whence it came in the mens room, a Kings fan pointed over at me, yelling “Tufficult!” That stopped my stream for a moment, but it quickly resumed.

The point is, I feel fortunate to have carved out some small place in our amazing Los Angeles Kings community, and I feel grateful to have spent the weekend in the company of so many amazing people. I honestly believe that this team has the best fans in hockey, if not all of pro sports.

Although I’m no longer the rookie on #TeamTRH, I was a rookie to Frozen Fury… but that didn’t stop me from having trip highlights such as these:

  • Holding conversation with a random girl that approached our table while Jon Rosen and #TeamTRH looked on in amusement (Pumper yelled out “have you read his Game 6 post?”)
  • Playing blackjack with The Half while wearing Bailey’s championship ring (Bailey is pretty much the greatest lion of all time, by the way)
  • Running into Jesse Cohen in the hallway at 10am as he was coming back to the room and I was just heading out for the day (he ended up changing his mind and going back out with me)
  • Trolling myself by looking constipated in a picture with Pia Toscano
  • Finding one of the coolest people I met the entire trip in the food court at 4am on the final night, then having a deep existential conversation with Jesse over a hamburger
  • Doing “The Carlton” dance while awkwardly locking eyes with Patrick O’Neal
  • [Story redacted for confidentiality purposes]

In short, my first Frozen Fury experience really hits at what I’ve written about in the past and what PumperNicholl touched on in his recent post. It’s about how our intensely felt, shared Kings fandom concerns so much more than a puck and some ice. It’s about friends, about making memories you’ll never forget, about sharing in the excitement and unknown that each new season brings.

You know that feeling you get when you have an experience that you’re certain just ingrained itself in your mind as a memory you’ll never forget? Frozen Fury was full of those. In a year that’s been full of Kings-related high points, this one is right up there. If you’ve never been, it’s high time you find out for yourself next year.

I’m so lucky to have had this experience with a bunch of guys who are a lot more than just snarky hockey fans on Twitter.

They’re also snarky hockey fans in person.

See you in the lazy river.

-King Tufficult (@KingTufficult)

As a child, King Tufficult liked to hang out at Iceoplex to watch his dad’s summer skating group that included many gloriously mulleted individuals. Some of the people attached to those mullets played for the early 90′s LA Kings. It was destiny. Since then, King Tufficult is best known for extensively traveling in Europe during the Cup Finals and writing “The Post” after Game 6 of the 2014 WCF. If you're a glutton for punishment, you can follow King Tufficult on Twitter @KingTufficult.