By Pete Weber / Special to LAKings.com
The Kings have won their second Stanley Cup, two in three seasons now. It took 45 years, from the NHL expansion from “the Original Six” when the league doubled in size, to start this run.
I was fortunate enough to have had the best mentor and friend in the business, Kings’ Voice Bob Miller. I worked three seasons (1978-81) alongside him and learned so much from him.
There is a certain sense of family surrounding any team, and the fact that it has held me for more than 30 years after I left is remarkable to me. How strong is that pull? These recent playoff games had me pacing, holding my breath and raising my pulse rate!
When NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presented Captain Dustin Brown, memories of so many came immediately to mind.
This Kings’ team has been remarkable and much has already been written about it, from ownership on down. As the trophy was hoisted and passed along on STAPLES Center ice, I was glad for the Kings of the past.
The first voice of the team: Jiggs McDonald fortunately had the chance to call three Cup winners on Long Island, but he was the pioneer on the air. I know he still feels a “kin(g)ship” to the team. He worked with Dan Avey (as did Bob). Preceding me with Bob were Dan and Rich Marotta.
There was trainer Pete Demers and equipment man John Holmes. I remember meeting them on my first day with the team -- September 15, 1978. Jack Kent Cooke was the founding owner and my first boss there. He was the one who built the Forum, home of so many memories for me. His gatekeeper was Rosemary Garmong.
Joan McLaughlin in Human Resources (I guess it was formally titled that) helped coordinate my move from Buffalo to Los Angeles. John Wolf was the soft-spoken Director of Public Relations, who had just taken over from Mike Hope. Debbie Alcorn Gottas would answer the phone when John was away, back in those pre-cellphone days.
Roy Engelbrecht worked with Tim Wilhelm in promotions. Ed Desser and Keith Harris were in the broadcasting department. Marcia Galloway soon came on as General Manager George Maguire’s executive assistant.
Claire Rothman ran the Forum and kept it “Fabulous.” John Linscott, Scotty and Rob Collins on the Forum building crew – always ready for a good laugh, and we had many! The apostles of hockey: Bob “Blueline” Borgen, Bill Gurney, Dave Israeli and David Courtney, along with Jim Pells and Big Joe McDonnell were all ready to go out after the games.
Young Scott Carmichael had emerged from being a ball boy for the Lakers and moved into PR with the Kings. Ron Mahkorn was the Chief of the Ushers. Sho Yomada ran the Forum Club Press Entrance, where we left most of our tickets for friends. (“Just tell Sho…”)
On radio, our engineers were Monte Bancroft or Bob (not the first team captain) Wall running the controls for us from (as Chick Hearn would say) “high atop the Western sideline.” Our flagship stations were KRLA, KIIS/KPRZ and KOGO from San Diego, with our simulcasts carried on KHJ-TV, Channel 9.
Photography Incorporated took care of all our official photos, with Wen Roberts the primary “shooter.”
The reporters on the Kings’ beat in those days: Don Merry, then Gordon Edes of the Los Angeles Times; Alan Malamud, Bob Keisser and Lyle Spencer from the Herald –Examiner; Steve Rosenbloom and John Lowe of the Valley News and Green Sheet; plus Dan MacLean and Mike Waldner of the South Bay Daily Breeze, Earl Bloom from the Orange County Register, plus Chris Lowe and Terry Johnson. There were the freelance writers, including “the team priest,” Bill Libby. Sometimes, members of this group would join us on the Forum ice for some “street hockey” post-game shows!
From the electronic media side, we frequently saw Stu Nahan, Ira Fistell, Jim Hill, Bud (“Steam Room”) Furillo, Gil Stratton and Joe Buttita, plus Steve Futterman. Of course, I can’t talk about these guys without mentioning the Forum Press Lounge, where Bill (“Just One My Man”) Granger was in charge. I can still see Bill sleeping while standing up when our post-game bull sessions stretched on and on!
Those are the off-the-ice people that came to mind, and please excuse me if I left you out – that was totally unintentional!
Bob Berry was the first NHL Coach I worked with on a daily basis. His assistants included Frank St. Marseille, Ralph Backstrom and Parker MacDonald. The stories they would tell us on the trips, all taken by commercial transportation were often spellbinding!
The players: led by Marcel Dionne and Butch Goring (yes, I took him to the airport in Montreal in 1980 when he was traded to the Islanders – he did pretty well there, too, by the way!) Marcel to this day is the best player I have ever had the privilege of working with day-to-day.
This is not intended to be a litany of names – but picking up Charlie Simmer at Metro Airport in Detroit, thinking he was only going to be up for a couple of weekend games, only to become a key member (with Dave Taylor) of hockey’s most illustrious line at that time.
The much-respected captain, Mike Murphy; was a much-respected voice, along with veterans Syl Apps Jr., Tommy Williams, Darryl Edestrand, Brian Glennie and Bert Wilson. Later, youngsters Jim Fox and Daryl Evans (how could I forget the “Miracle on Manchester?”) would join as well.
Bottom line – and I realize some of these friends have passed -- I wish each of them could taste the celebratory champagne earned by this generation of Kings. I toast you all! As Carly Simon sang: “these are the good old days!”