(Reuters) - Los Angeles celebrated the Kings’ second Stanley Cup title in three years with a parade of flatbed truck floats and double-decker buses through the city that ended in a rally at their Staples Center home on Monday.
Players hoisted the glistening silver Stanley Cup for the fans that lined the parade route behind police barriers and cheered the Kings, who prevailed after a record-tying 26 playoff games and three Game Seven wins away from home.
“It was an emotional, exhausting ride,” Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams told the crowd outside the arena. “For us to come out on top after you poured everything that you had into it, and it was good enough, words can’t describe it.”
The Kings clinched the National Hockey League title in fitting fashion by beating the New York Rangers in their longest game in franchise history - a 3-2 victory in double overtime that lasted nearly 95 minutes before Alec Martinez’s Cup-clinching goal.
More than 300,000 fans lined the streets surrounding Staples Center, two years to the day of the parade to celebrate the 2012 Cup.
There was elation that day at the team finally reaching the top in their 44th season in the NHL. This time there was a sense that something big was growing.
With most of their team intact for the future, the Kings have the foundation for what could prove to become a perennial powerhouse.
“We’re starting to become a hockey town,” captain Dustin Brown said to the crowd before confetti rained down.
At the rally following the parade, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said: “We have the best sunshine in the world, but we own the ice too.”
Big cheers rocked the arena for coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi, who began laying the groundwork for the Cup runs when he arrived in Los Angeles in 2006.
“This franchise has now evolved to a different level,” Lombardi told the crowd. “I feel like the luckiest man in the world.”
“You see this baby, right here?” Sutter said as he tapped North American team sport’s most famous trophy.
“She’s been gone for a couple of years, and we’re happy she’s home.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Greg Stutchbury