My Stanley Cup Story: Clifford
*This is the eighth 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.*
It goes without saying that anyone connected with the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club has had an incredible last five months, given the almost mind-boggling way in which the Kings captured their second Stanley Cup Championship in three seasons.
And of all those considered, forward Kyle Clifford takes the cake. All the cake, as a matter of fact – not just the Stanley Cup cake, but the baby cake, and even the wedding cake.
On April 18, the first day of a two-day break between Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal series between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks, Kyle and his wife, Paige, were scheduled to deliver their first child, a boy, named Brody. Originally planning a natural birth, Paige opted for a c-section to ensure Kyle could be present, and still hop on the team flight to San Jose the next day.
“She took one for the team,” said Kyle of his wife.
The new dad didn’t allow the birth of the newest prince to keep him from his teammates, and Kyle went on to play some of the most inspired hockey of his career during the Kings post-season run en route to lifting Lord Stanley.
Playing 26 of a possible 28 games during the playoffs, the Kings tied the record for most games needed to win the Stanley Cup, which included three Game 7s on the road – a feat no previous team had ever accomplished.
“That’s what it takes to win championships, you need everybody on the same page. We all had our jobs to do and we all had to chip in where it was needed,” said Kyle of the surge in his play. “Anytime you’re going to win a championship you need your whole team to raise their game up another level, and our lineup, from the top down, we did that.”
Kyle chipped in with a goal and six assists during the playoffs, only one point shy of his entire regular season total, and his last point happened to be the second assist on the Cup-clinching goal by Alec Martinez in double overtime of Game 5 of the Final against the New York Rangers.
“I just remember seeing Marty throw his gloves up in the air, and it was just a huge relief and just a great feeling,” recalled Kyle of what will perhaps remain the biggest play of his hockey career.
A member of the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup-winning team, Kyle is able to appreciate what it took to win this year – a stark contrast from the first championship, which required only 20 games.
“It was hard. It was really hard. It took everybody. We all got down in the trenches and did what we had to do, but in the end it was very rewarding,” Kyle shared. “We had a great time in the dressing room, the whole team, the coaching staff and management, pouring lots of champagne, so it was a lot of fun.”
The fun continued for Kyle, Paige, Brody, and the rest of the Clifford clan on August 28, as they received the Stanley Cup around 4 o’clock in the afternoon to the Muskoka Bay Club, about a three-hour drive from Kyle’s hometown of Ayr, Ontario. After foregoing a wedding reception following their 2013 marriage, Paige and Kyle decided that the Stanley Cup would provide the perfect opportunity to have their friends and family together to celebrate their union.
That evening functioned as a wedding reception and a Cup party for about 80 friends and family members, and featured the best of both worlds, including a Montreal-style smoked meat dinner, drinks from the Cup, wedding cake, and even flip cup and beer pong.
The next morning, Kyle went for morning coffee at Tim Horton’s, where he also ate Tim Bits (the brand’s famous donut holes) from the Cup. A round of golf was scheduled back at the Club in the afternoon, for the Cup, Kyle, and some of his buddies – about 40 people in total. Kyle, however, bowed out after about six holes.
“I’m not much of a golfer,” admitted the 23-year-old.
After everyone else finished their round of golf, the group enjoyed another Stanley Cup dinner, after which the Cup was brought back to Kyle’s rented villa for a little relaxation the rest of the night.”
Perhaps it's appropriate that the night was capped off with a little 'R and R,' because with training camp just around the corner, and the knowledge of what it takes to repeat as champions, there won't be much time for that in the near future.
Join the conversation on Twitter with the NHL, LA Kings and the Hockey Hall of Fame for their summer with Stanley by using the hashtag #StanleyCup
LA Kings: @LAKings
LA Kings PR: @LAKingsPR
Cup Keepers: @KeeperOfTheCup
Hockey Hall of Fame: @HockeyHallFame
Deborah Lew: @by_DeborahLew
For photos of the Kings’ summer with Stanley, view the Hockey Hall of Fame’s ‘Stanley Cup Journal’ CLICK HERE
You can also check out the Stanley Cup on Facebook at Facebook.com/StanleyCup and Facebook.com/TravelsWithStanley