This was an interesting year for National Hockey League fans. As we were finishing up this issue of the magazine, the Los Angles Kings were capturing their first Stanley Cup — ice hockey’s equivalent to the Super Bowl or the World Series — after a 45-year drought.
Dan Akroyd as Sgt. Friday, in the movie Dragnet, immortalized the team’s long-time underdog status. Speaking about L.A., he said, “…we need a smut-free life for all of our citizens; cleaner streets, better schools, and a good hockey team.”
Well, I don’t know about their streets or schools, but today L.A. has a good hockey team. What made the team’s rise to the top especially interesting was that after barely making the playoffs as the eighth-seeded team in its division, the Kings picked off the top seeds, one by one, to become the first eight-seed to win the coveted Cup.
The best part of the story for me was the performance of the team’s young goalie, Jonathan Quick, who refused to give into hopelessness or frustration during the first half of the season as his team lost game after game in front of his outstanding goal-tending. When halfway through the season the conditions around him changed — new coach and two new players — his ability to perform at the highest level began to pay off. He had kept them in the game while they were the NHL’s lowest-scoring team for much of the regular season. After sneaking into the playoffs, Quick took advantage of the opportunity by dominating every series and earning MVP honors.
Watching him hoist the Cup, I thought about how conditions beyond an individual’s control can test the fortitude of the most skilled of professionals. Others had to change the environment around Quick — give him the playing field where his efforts would pay off. Hopefully, the professional home inspectors who have stayed in business during these difficult times are seeing changes that create opportunities for them to be successful at the level they deserve.
Don’t you love it when skill plus fortitude pays off?