Jamie Forsyth is a Canadian-born, Los Angeles-living composer and hockey fanatic. He realized a long-held dream when he witnessed the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup.
Forsyth grew up in and around Toronto and fondly recalls the days when, as a child, he and his friends would spend whole winter days "positively freezing our fingers and toes off" playing pond hockey. He also played for the Leaside Kings, though he chose to pursue music professionally before reaching high school. In 1999, he moved to L.A., keeping his hockey passion intact.
That passion was realized Monday night when he witnessed the L.A. Kings winning the Stanley Cup. Here he shares his ideas and impressions around what it's like being a hockey fan in La-La Land, and the feelings that came with experiencing the big game in person.
What's it like to be a hockey fan in Los Angeles?
I love being a hockey fan here. L.A. is not a hockey city as such, and I admit that I enjoy my sport isn't in the mainstream. I think a part of me wants to keep hockey for myself, as a Canadian -a ridiculous thing to say of course since California, hilariously, is the only state with three hockey teams -but Los Angeles is also a kind of Toronto West. Expats are everywhere.
"Hockey games are a kind of communion," says Canadian fan Jamie Forsyth (right), "a gathering of understanding and solace for disciples of the most exciting, dynamic, history-rich and also marginalized sport on the planet."
How much do you consider yourself an ambassador of hockey?
I don't stand on corners with sandwich boards, but all of my friends here have moved, in some small way at least and occasionally in giant ways, closer to the game because of my passion for it. I have been having viewing parties at my home for playoff road games. People are getting into it.
And, for the first time in my thirteen years here, there are 'GO KINGS GO!' billboards everywhere. Last year I started seeing (them) scattered around the city, the ones featuring individual players: Anze Kopitar's was at the corner of Pico & Barrington; Dustin Brown was toothlessly staring down the pedestrian traffic in Westwood. It's been growing. But of course in the last four months there's been an explosion.
How long have you been a Kings subscriber?
Only for three years now. Before that I just went to games as the mood struck me. A lot of that was due to the fact that people just weren't into hockey. I managed to convert a friend of mine, and the two of us have been voraciously consuming every game possible. Before you know it, (we became) season ticket holders. Little did we know then what was going to happen! Three years ago the Kings were not a team that made the highlight reels very often -at least not the winning side of the highlight reels anyway.
Los Angeles Kings player Jarret Stoll skates with the Stanley Cup after the team's victory. "The Kings haven't enjoyed a particularly storied playoff history," notes Forsyth. "Last year they were dispatched by the Sharks; this year was looking similar. We were fighting tooth and nail for a maybe-possible chance at sliding Indiana Jones-style under the giant boulder and into the playoffs."
What went through your head the day you headed off to the arena this final time?
"Let's please get this over with for the love of all that is good and holy in this crazy, mixed-up world we live in" -something like that.
I had been noticing a distinct up-tick in my general agitation in life: traffic lights seemed to take longer; lines moved slower; a higher percentage of dropped toast would land butter side down. It was getting to me a little bit.
What do you make of the path the Kings took to the Cup?
Every night was louder and more electric. In Round 3, the Coyotes hit a post behind Jonathan Quick in overtime and the Kings went on to win the game. The season ticket holder in front of me turned around and said quietly, "This is a team of destiny now." Saying stuff like that out loud is just BEGGING for it to be ruined -and maybe I should've punched him in the face -but he wasn't wrong.
A fan celebrates the Los Angeles Kings' winning the Stanley Cup. "The road the Kings took to claim the prize was perhaps the weirdest of any team ever," observes Forsyth, "although there is a certain pride in that. The more amazing the story got, the more I was unable not to want it."
Was this the first Stanley Cup you've seen live? What is that like?
This was the first. To be fair, I grew up in Toronto and I did see the Leafs in a Round 3 game at Maple Leaf Gardens against the L.A. Kings back in 1993. I only had $5 in my pocket and I was on my way to the subway. There was a scalper who wouldn't leave me alone trying to unload the last of his tickets (because) the game had just started -it's amazing what that does to the street value of hockey tickets. He ended up selling me the ticket, with all the requisite complaining and carrying on, for $5 and I walked home afterwards. The Leafs lost.
But I'd never seen the Cup in person before, and the moment it came onto the ice Monday night was a moment I won't ever forget.
Describe the scene in and outside the arena post-game.
There's a restaurant that we always go to called Rock 'n' Fish that's in the plaza outside the Staples Center. Because we're regulars, we were able to get the owners to walk us in past the police blockades -they were refusing to let anyone mill around and celebrate. The police may have outnumbered the crowds, really. There was no trouble after the game, but if you want your city to have a connection with its team you have to allow people to enjoy themselves. It felt like we'd just won Game 1.
Before the game however was amazing. It was hopping outside and absolutely packed more than four hours before the puck drop. And inside... forget about it. I still can't quite hear properly and my voice is a mess.
Members of the Los Angeles Kings take turns holding Lord Stanley's cup following their first win, as media take photos and film the historic moment. "With respect to my adopted home, L.A. is a bandwagon city," says Forsyth about his adopted city's recent hockey-love, "but I say: come one, come all."
Were/are people in the city generally excited?
Non-hockey fans are definitely watching hockey this year. That doesn't mean they'll be fans next year of course, but people are looking up from their proverbial smartphones to see what all the fuss is about. It's fun to hear stories from the players about how restaurants will erupt spontaneously in applause for them. It's also magnified by the fact that both the Lakers and the Clippers were knocked out of the NBA playoffs (and Los Angeles is nothing if not a basketball city) at the same time that the Kings have been rising from the ashes. So the city has been getting behind them and the excitement has been slowly building.
How much do you think this achievement will help raise the sport's profile in the U.S. overall?
The U.S. is well used to American teams winning the cup. Who knows if it will bolster the profile of the sport in the country as a whole? In this city there is no doubt that the temperature is changing. I'm not sure that winning a Cup will turn Los Angeles into a bonafide hockey town per se, but gone are the days of, "Oh you're going to a hockey game tonight? It's the…what is it… the KINGS right?" Yes. Yes it is.