Body Count

Young kids nowadays probably don’t remember, but there used to be a big professional sports league in North America that played hockey. Now, it’ll be hard for you whippersnappers to imagine, but picture an activity combining the gracefulness of figure skating and the violence of football, with the added bonus of an occasional fistfight.

There was even a team here in Los Angeles, believe it or not, called the Kings. Good team, though they were mired in mediocrity for years. The closest they came to the championship was cut short by an illegal hockey stick (a piece of equipment mostly used to beat on opposing players if they got skating too fast), which should give you some idea of the collective team karma.

Things were bad enough for the Kings season to season, but then the team made the mistake of putting up a statue of Wayne Gretzky, an amazing former King who never played at the new arena they were dedicating. This karmic grenade resulted in years of collective injury, controversy, and malaise, not to mention the near-fatal embarassment of the Orange County team almost winning a championship. (Sound familiar?)

Fast-forward to today, when the Kings wrapped up the abysmal regular season by firing everybody on the Kings payroll who doesn’t wear a uniform. The bloodshed and screaming down at Staples Center has been awful to hear, with much gnashing of teeth, anointing with ash, and rending of limited-edition commemorative sackcloth jerseys. For once, the famously pessimistic denizens of aren’t sounding all that out of whack. ;)

So wave goodbye to Luc Robitaille (which sounds like a line from a Canadian country song) and repeat the mantra — there’s always next season.

Except for those years when there isn’t.