The Los Angeles Kings were one of six expansion franchises created in 1967. Jack Kent Cooke was instrumental in getting the team into the league, paying $2 million for the rights to the expansion club. Cooke was famous for giving nicknames to many of his players, such as Eddie “The Jet” Royal, introducing a fun atmosphere of hockey into California. The team was successful in their early years, reaching the playoffs in both of their first seasons. The success would not be maintained however, as the Kings had a history for trading away first round draft picks in deals that would not work out well for the team. During that time, attendance declined and some began to lose interest in the new team.
In 1987 Bruce McNall purchased the team, making an immediate impact with one of the most important trades in the history of hockey, acquiring the rights to Wayne Gretzky via a trade with the Oilers. He also changed the team’s colors from purple and gold to black and silver, which still stands today. During Gretzky’s time with the Kings he won multiple MVP awards, while also becoming the all-time leading scorer. Gretzky also led the team to their first ever Stanley Cup Final in 1993, with current ESPN analyst Barry Melrose acting as head coach. The Kings were underdogs throughout the playoffs, despite boasting the best player of all time. They were unsuccessful in completing their run though, losing to the Montreal Canadians in five games. Following their defeat the Kings entered a free fall not only in the standings but in the bank, filing for bankruptcy in 1993.
After 1999, the Kings made the playoffs in their first three seasons in their new home, the Staples Center. They could not reach the Cup Finals again, bowing out of the playoffs before the championship round in every season. The next few years would be disappointments in the franchise though, as injury plagued seasons in 2002-03 and 2003-04 would see the Kings fail to make the playoffs. Following another poor season in 2005-06, the Kings cleaned house and brought in an entirely new front office, including Dean Lombardi as GM. President. Lombardi would make a number of great draft picks and trades, acquiring Jonathon Quick, Jack Johnson, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ryan Smyth, and others. All of the waiting finally paid off last season, when the Los Angeles Kings won their first Stanley Cup in franchise history, defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games before a sold-out crowd at the Staples Center.