Monarchs Honor LA In 1996 Kings 3rd Jersey
A memorable reaction. That's exactly what Everett Duke, Marketing & Digital Content Manager for the Manchester Monarchs, was thinking when he suggested to the team's President, Darren Abbott, that the Monarchs hold an internet vote to determine which jersey the team would wear for their LA Kings Jersey Night on January 25th, 2014. This will be the Monarchs 2nd Annual LA Kings Night, as last season they honored their Stanley Cup-winning parent club by donning the team's current black home jerseys.
For Darren Abbott, LA Kings Night is a big opportunity for the Monarchs to promote the close relationship they have with the Kings. "We really wanted to celebrate the players that we’ve been able to develop here in Manchester," explains Abbott. "These guys are spending a year or two here and then going up and being part of a team that is one of the stronger franchises in the National Hockey League. Not to steal a phrase, but we’re all Kings and we really want to celebrate that here in Manchester." So once Abbott agreed with Everett Duke that the Monarchs should hold a internet vote to determine the 2014 LA Kings Night jersey... the question became "which 3 jerseys?" Everett knew right away what jersey he wanted the team to wear; the LA Kings 1996 3rd Jersey, affectionately known throughout the hockey world as the "Burger King Jersey" for the logo's close resemblance to the fast-food franchise mascot. Now, we here at The Royal Half are a tad bit obsessed with that particular jersey so we were excited to find out that we aren't the only ones. "I’m from Alabama, so I shouldn’t be a big hockey guy, but I am," Duke recounts to me with a laugh." That was around the time that I started watching hockey. I remember the Fox television days and the outlandish jerseys. Wayne Gretzky even wore it! I think Luc Robitaille told me that it’s the only Kings jersey that he didn’t wear, up until the new set."
It's true, Luc Robitaille wore 10 of the 15 jerseys in the photo above.With the 1996 3rd Jersey paired with the Los Angeles Kings original gold as well as the purple sweater of the early 2000's, Abbott and Duke were ready to put the power into the hands of the people. In early August, before the 2013-14 AHL season started... the vote was made public:
And then internet exploded.
From the AM: We can make the Manchester Monarchs wear the LA Kings Burger King jerseys. Let's do this - http://t.co/xd07eP2yAV— Sean Leahy (@Sean_Leahy) August 13, 2013
Abbott was floored by the response online to the inclusion of the 1996 3rd Jersey. "We picked the three jerseys and it was kind of crazy what happened next. We didn’t think that we’d get the kind of response that we got," said Abbott. "We had over ten thousand votes submitted for those jerseys. We really just set out to get some guidance to see what our fans wanted us to wear at the game and next thing you know it kind of blew up."
Saying that "it kind of blew up" was a bit of an understatement. There was a full-on grass roots movement to get the 1996 3rd Jersey onto the backs of the Manchester Monarchs players for LA Kings Night. On August 8th, @MonarchsHockey posted the first voting results on Instagram.
And then 4 days later, the 1996 Jersey was a candidate on the rise, taking over more than half the vote:
And three days later... the winning jersey was revealed in a landslide:
In the end, it was a good old-fashioned hockey blowout as the 1996 Jersey destroyed the competition. But for Everett Duke, he had a feeling that the hockey world would be enthused to see a team from 2014 wear that 1996 jersey. "I knew that if I put this in the right digital places, that we were going to be okay. I just didn’t think that it would happen as fast as it did," explains Duke. "The Royal Half would do something and then there would be a huge spike. There were two days when Reddit kind of spiked it. There was obviously the day that it was on Puck Daddy, which was just huge. If you look back at those, you can tell that major shifts were happening any time it got some kind of national attention. It really happened pretty quick.”With the winning jersey decided 5 months ago, the moment we've all been waiting for is upon us as the Manchester Monarchs LA Kings Night jersey makes its debut this Saturday, January 25th, at Verizon Wireless Arena against the Portland Pirates. For anyone hoping to get their hands on this one-of-a-kind collectors item, they will have to bid on the game-worn jerseys in an auction that benefits Monarchs Care Foundation after the game. But in typical social media fashion these days... a sneak peek of the actual Monarchs jersey made its way onto the internet a few weeks ago:
In a season that has seen 14 former Manchester Monarchs skate in the LA Kings lineup, for Team President Darren Abbott, LA Kings Night is a celebration of the connection between these two franchises. "Last year during L.A. Kings night we raised a Stanley Cup banner that had the names of all the former Monarchs that were on that team," Abbott says beaming with pride. "People were really excited about the banner being raised here in Manchester with those kids on it. It makes you understand what you’re here to do, and that’s to help the Kings win Stanley Cups."
Of course, the LA Kings came nowhere close to winning the Stanley Cup while wearing those 1996 3rd Jerseys.
I only wish Wayne Gretzky could have lifted the Cup in this jersey.
Or any LA Kings jersey for that matter.
And even though the Kings only wore them 8 times in 1996, the jerseys have become incredibly popular with hockey fans across the world. This Saturday night in Manchester, not only Kings and Monarchs fans will be curious to see a team playing in a jersey from 1996, but the rest of the hockey community will be as well. And there should be some incredibly memorable reactions.