Tomorrow night, Staples Center is going to play host to Game 1 of the Kings-Sharks Western Conference Semi-Final series. The Staples Center opened on October 17, 1999 (my 20th birthday, not that anyone cares), but 14 years later, this is the first Game 1 of a Stanley Cup playoff series that has been played there (there might have been one or two or 26 NBA Playoff series openers played there). That's because the last time the L.A. Kings started a playoff series with home ice advantage, some guy named Wayne Douglas Gretzky was their captain and George H. W. Bush was president.
The year was 1992…
•Paul Coffey and Larry Robinson were the two best-known names on the Kings' defense (yes, Paul Coffey and Larry Robinson played for the Kings!)
•The Kings had won their last division title one year earlier. It is still their last division title.
•The Kings had been to the 2nd round of the playoffs 3 straight seasons, the only time in their history they have done that. They had never been past the 2nd round. That would take one more season.
•The Detroit Red Wings' playoff streak was in its second season.
•The Simpsons had been on the air for only 3 years.
•On the day of Game 6, April 29, 1992 (think of the song and you know where this is going), the Rodney King riots began.
•If you were born the day that series against the Oilers ended, you can legally buy a beer at tomorrow night's game.
In other words, it's been a very long time since the Kings had home ice advantage to start a playoff series, and they have never in their 46 years had home ice after the first round of the playoffs. Here's hoping they do more with it this time than they did 21 years ago.
I feel I should also note that this ends what was an NHL record for consecutive series started on the road at 16. Going back to the first round of the 1993 playoffs, the Kings opened in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal that year, in St. Louis in 1998, Detroit in 2000 and 2001, Colorado for the second round in 2001 and the first round in 2002, Vancouver again in 2010, San Jose in 2011, Vancouver, St. Louis, Phoenix, and New Jersey en route to the franchise's first Cup in 2012, and St. Louis again this season. Somewhat amazingly, the team was 9-7 in those 16 series with an overall record of 47-43 in the games.