My Stanley Cup Story: Davis Payne
*This is the seventh feature of a special multi-part LAKings.com content series featuring various members of the Kings organization as the Stanley Cup makes its way around the world throughout the summer.*
So much has been made of the LA Kings players who won their first Stanley Cup this year as the Kings won their second championship in three seasons. This is entirely understandable, considering the Kings returned 75 percent of their Cup-winning team from 2012.
But aside from the Robyn Regehrs, Marian Gaboriks, and other players who earned their first championship rings when the Kings beat the New York Rangers in Game 5 of this year’s Stanley Cup Final, there are guys like Assistant Coach Davis Payne, who will also see his name on the Cup for the first time later this summer.
Payne was named an assistant coach to Darryl Sutter on July 26, 2012, just over a month after the Kings won their first Stanley Cup. A former forward with the Boston Bruins, Payne played in the NHL for eight seasons, and brought 12 years of coaching experience to the table, including his most recent job with the St. Louis Blues.
Similar to Associate Coach, John Stevens, who won his first Cup in 2012, Payne won his first Cup in his second season with the Kings after never having won it as a player.
“I don’t think you win this trophy without the full level of emotional and physical and mental commitment and effort, so I think what we all feel after winning it is the utter joy and the utter relief and the utter satisfaction that comes from it,” said Payne on the difference, or lack thereof, between winning as a player versus as a coach. “I can’t imagine it’s different, but perhaps it is.”
Regardless of whether the feeling of wining is different between a player and a coach, the job descriptions most certainly are, and after what could arguably be the most dramatic Stanley Cup run in NHL history, taking into account the 0-3 deficit in Round 1, and three consecutive Game 7 wins on the road, one has to wonder what kind of magic potion the coaching staff was cooking up to keep its players mentally prepared.
“I think what our group does really well is stay focused on what we’re trying to do and how we can do things better,” Payne observed. “You look at the San Jose series, being down 3-0, we hadn’t played well. Our group knows that, and that’s our focus.”
“Whether we’re winning or losing, we want to play a certain way, we want to play well, and our guys recognize that, and we have a lot of guys who want to make sure we play well because they want to win,” continued Payne. “These guys have incredibly strong commitment towards each other and that’s what you get to lean on in those tough situations and they trust that when they lean on each other it’s going to work. It’s a very matter-of-fact group that has a very tight bond, and in situations like this it shines through.”
On Saturday, August 23, Payne hosted hockey’s Holy Grail in his home province of British Columbia. They began the morning at a ski resort called Sun Peaks, just outside of his hometown. Payne and his entourage had breakfast at the resort, and took chair lifts up to the middle of the mountain where they spent about an hour and were able to capture photos of the Cup amidst breathtaking views.
“We had people travel a long way, so we wanted to set it up in Sun Peaks where folks could make a vacation out of it if they wanted to,” explained Payne. “My wife’s family was coming all the way from North Carolina, we had some people come from Alaska, people from Missouri, so if they were going to make that whole journey we gave them an opportunity to extend their stay if they wanted to.”
They then took the Cup into the city of Kamloops where they had a public viewing arranged as a fundraiser for the Royal Inland Hospital. Approximately 1500 people were in attendance at the rink where the event was held, willing to donate money in hopes of getting a chance to have their picture taken with Lord Stanley’s silver chalice.
The Cup was then escorted around to a few local establishments that were significant to Payne as he was growing up, including a burger joint and a friend’s sports shop. He made a quick stop at the house where he grew up, and after knocking on the door and getting no answer, he snapped a few quick photos of himself with the Cup in front of the house and quickly drove away, no doubt surprising some neighbors in the process.
The day wrapped up with a private rooftop party downtown for Payne’s family, close friends, and those who had influenced his hockey career, about 60 people in total.
“All the planning that went into it and all the thought that went into it, I think it was awesome. I’m not sure what else I could have done,” expressed the 43-year-old Payne. “I’m really happy with the way it turned out and really happy that I got the chance to share it with people and got to see their enjoyment and their fulfillment from it. To be able to share it like that with friends and family and see the reaction they have to it, that’s really, really special.”
Players, coaches, and staff alike, that’s one sentiment that’s definitely universal.
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