*NOTE FROM The Royal Half: We are beyond excited to welcome Shawnze Kopitar to the pages of The Royal Half as one of the winners of North America’s Next Top Blogger™: Season 3! 

Shawnze has a Masters Degree in Sports Management which means that she has a much better grasp of the sports world than most of #TeamTRH. We are really looking forward to her unique viewpoint and insider knowledge of the sport of hockey.

I have a feeling that Shawnze is going to fit in perfectly around here.


Please welcome Shawnze to The Royal Half dot com and follow her on the Twitter. Now, Shawnze talks with us about what it means to be a LA Kings fans at this moment in time. Take it away, Shawnze!


Before I dive into what will undoubtedly be the most analytical and informative Kings post any of you have ever read, I feel compelled to admit that I’ve always imagined writing for TRH to be somewhat glamorous. But now that it’s a potential reality, and now that I’ve made acquaintance with several TRH members, I fear that the process by which this blog is composed and maintained is more closely akin to any one of the group therapy scenes in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and like Harding, I feel vulnerable and very peculiar, very peculiar.


Transitioning from content consumer to (likely one time) content producer has caused me to ponder my relationship with hockey and all the folks who are at their keyboards typing away hypotheses and sentiments for the 2015-16 Kings season. Why does anyone read this stuff anyway? What is it that drives us to stay acutely informed of every major and minor detail of this organization? Does any of this matter?

Through sheer tenacity, I recently cornered Carmine Falcone Dean Lombardi in an underground restaurant and upon submitting these questions he concluded, “This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.”

DL is right – none of us really fully understands this world of hockey. But we try to anyway because we love it, and we can always hide behind our Twitter handles or message board bravado should we come up short.

Perhaps I should hide behind mine more often:


I see evidence of Dean’s assertion everywhere. We read articles filled with fancy stats and analysis by self-proclaimed hockey aficionados so we can garner a smidge of comprehension on how this machine works.

We boldly declare the tenure of our fandom as though the number of years we’ve been devoted determines our knowledge of the game.

We scream things like, “START BERNIER” when Quick has a bad game in the playoffs because we want to contribute to coaching decisions, unknowingly failing to recognize the significance of big game experience and having confidence in our main guy. For the record, I never doubted Quick because as a 10+ years Kings fan and obvious hockey virtuoso, I knew better (#StartMiller).

No one is free of these proclivities. Even those who firmly assert that they, “could[n’t] care less about sports,” injure the same pedantic air that we Kings fans sometimes maintain when comparing our own hockey acumen to that of others (You know nothing, entire state of Arizona. NOTHING).

And so, even though the Kings were plagued by years of disappointment leading up to 2012, I wonder if we were all in need of a little humbling. Lest we forget the pride cycle, it was the hubris of Odysseus that caused his downfall, not the intelligence and superiority of Polyphemus.

The offseason was definitely a humbling one for Kings players, staffers and fans alike. We don’t need to rehash the details but it’s worth noting that I listened to a lot of The National this summer and paid significantly less than normal attention to all the speculation and analysis. I was weary at the end of last season and that weariness grew as the locker room drama continued to rear its unfathomably ugly head well into July. And will we ever get over the departure of Justin Williams? Time will tell.


Miss you, boo.

It’s taken an entire summer somewhat free of the game I so ardently love for that weariness to fade. I suspect I’m not the only one who experienced this. The Twitter community (or at least the folks I follow) seemed to hush a bit as well. Maybe like Drew Doughty, we all needed a break to shed the 15 pounds of weight we’d been carrying around for 3 years. Two cups are heavier than one after all. The flight crew for the San Jose Sharks knows what I mean. It’s hard to comprehend the weight of raw meat they’ve had to keep on board all these years to feed Raffi Torres after away games.

Just fire me already, The Half.

None of that matters now, though. We’re commencing a new season. Sure, we’re still feeling the effects (collateral damage?) of off-season greetings and goodbyes, but it’s time to start trolling @Real_ESPNLeBrun again to make ourselves feel better.

And now that I’m somewhat healed and well-rested, I am thrilled that hockey is back.

I am looking forward to hosting more Boston fans at the games now that Milan Lucic is wearing black and silver.

I’m eager to start asking the questions that really matter like, “How much Sun-In did Jeff Carter use during the off season?” And, “Despite the NHL’s slow elimination of the shoot-out, will Sutter ever let Lewis shoot second again?”

Lastly, I am already laughing in anticipation of the puns, quips and jabs we’ll create together this season as we forge ahead in the attempt to more fully understand the world of hockey. Do you guys think Jordan Weal will be around long enough to get #HellOnWeals trending? Gosh, I hope so.

#HellOnWeals V2

Thanks to another NANTB3 Winner, Josh Baitz, for this #HellOnWeals photoshop.
You’ll be seeing more from Josh this season as well.

After hearing a female Kings fan shriek, “C’mon Kopi, make a goal!” in 2010, Shawnze rolled up her sleeves and set out to rebrand the notion of lady hockey fan in the streets and Late Romantic Era classical music devotee in the sheets. She has a Masters Degree in Sports Management (no really, it’s a thing) which means she’s really good at paying for things she’ll never use, and credits her dad’s lucky red shorts (and Trevor Lewis) for the success of the Kings’ Cup run in 2012. You can follow Shawnze Kopitar on Twitter @ShawnzeKopitar.