|Pops and I. "Straight Outta Compton" Kings hat.|
First, I just want to say that my family(5 boys(oldest brother Douglas passed at 19 years old), 2 girls, Mother and Father) are huge Kings fans. My Dad has been a fan of the team since the beginning in 1967 and is the reason why we are such an insane hockey family in Southern California. We all grew up playing ice hockey and my Dad played as a youth in Minnesota.
|I'm 11, Millen's 28, and my Huge friend Shawn is 13!|
I will just give a quick overview of what has happened to me over the last year and how it relates heavily to the Kings. Everything just happened the way it happened. I didn’t really have these intentions in my mind before leaving, aside from just thinking about how cool it would be to meet Kopitar in Slovenia. So, when these opportunities arose I had to take full advantage of them.
Slovenia was the main country I wanted to visit, and Kopitar was the main reason why I even knew about it. I googled this amazing place after the Kings drafted him in 2005 and going off of the pictures I saw, I had to go there. Do it, google Slovenia and you will see what I am talking about..or click here and check out some of my pictures. The place is beautiful.
After traveling for about a month or so, I sent out an email to Kopi's website just saying that I am a huge Kings fan traveling in Europe and will be heading to Slovenia soon. They replied with a ton of recommended places to visit in Slovenia and then told me to let them know when I was actually in the country.
Clip of me talking about Kopitar on a Slovenian Tv show, 1/4 parts:
Sports Thomasser in Kranj, about getting the jersey, I hit the road with my friends Keglo and Sasa. Mubi met me at his shop VERY last minute(he was rushed to take his baby to a Dr's appointment) and was excited that I was visiting SLO and about to go watch Kopitar practice. After thanking Mubi a million times, for being awesome, we drove the rest of the way to Bled(pics of Bled). We headed right into the rink and there he was, Kopitar, his father, and a handful of Slovenian National players. We watched them practice for about an hour and Kopitar's ankle was looking good. After practice Kopitar came and talked to me for a few minutes(he had to get to physical therapy for his ankle). I never like to bother "famous" people so, I just told him that myself and entire family are huge Kings Fans, that he is a great player and was the reason I even knew about Slovenia. He was kind enough to autograph the Jesenice jersey and then I asked him if he would write a little note on a postcard for my Dad(it was my Dad's Birthday that same day)… “Happy Birthday Sam!”.
Kopitar was great and the whole experience was very cool(Pics/Vids). I have to give a huge thanks to Mitja and Luka from AnzesEleven, Mubi from Sport Thomasser and of course, Anze Kopitar.
I also did a ton of other awesome things while in the country including; whitewater rafting on River Soca, Mtn biking and hiking in Bohinj, seeing Vintgar Gorge, Postojna Cave and a ton more. The highlight though, was spending 10 days in the Alps and climbing Slovenia's highest and most famous mountain, Mt Triglav,(426 pics from the epic journey)
|Mt. Triglav. Julian Alps, Slovenia.|
I made my way up to Hamburg, from Slovenia, for the pre-season game against the Freezers (Link:Pics/Vids). I was lucky enough to meet Robitaille and Nicholls at a Kings practice and then enjoy the incredible atmosphere at the game the next day. Nothing like football style chants at a hockey game. Really cool!
|The Pumper-Nicholl. Great guy.|
I would wake up at 3am, 4am, 4:30am, whenever I could to catch a live stream of the Kings. Many friends thought that I was crazy, but I just told them, "I love hockey and I love the Kings so, it doesn't seem so crazy to me." I would wake up to watch full games and if I wasn't able to catch a stream I would watch the highlights online the next day. I was traveling around a beautiful continent with so many things to see and do, and I did see and do a ton of things, but I always had my Dad, hockey and the Kings on my mind.
|Exchange before my surprise arrival. My Dad rules.|
The Kings make the playoffs! I set my alarm for every playoff game. Friends continue to call me crazy and laugh. I say, "Hey, this is important to me, it's important to my family. It may seem strange to you, but it's more than just a hockey game for me."
This will seem wild but it's a true testament of my love for this team. At one point I was in bed with a half naked girl and guess what I was doing? I was watching the Kings smash St. Louis in Game 4 of the second round!! She went to sleep and questioned my heterosexuality the next day. Talk about dedication or just plain stupidity. You make the call! :) I give it a 5 minute major for being awesome. (Some of you are after pictures of this girl, but I am not so sure she'd want her photo attached to this. Maybe another day :)
|Outdoor Ice Hockey in Sweden. One dream realized.|
"I need to come home for this. I cannot be away from my Dad if the Kings finally seal the deal. I will cry forever if I am not with my Pops and they do what he's been waiting 45 years for them to do"
I booked my flight home without telling my family that I was coming. I thought, "I will surprise my family, it will be amazing and I will enjoy these Cup Finals with my Father, family, and hopefully watch them do this thing!"
I was gone One Year. May 28th, 2011 to May 27th, 2012.
Surprising my parents..First thing my Dad says... "THE STANLEY CUP!":
|Hell yea that's a Zus shirt. Made it 2 years ago :)|
|Dad, David, Dan, Myself|
You all know the story. Game 6 it is(pics/vids)! This time it was my Dad, 2 of my older brothers and I. A nice 4 pack of over 100 years of pent up frustration and disappointment combined. We were ready to explode, hug, cry and stare in disbelief. The experience that we had together that night was unbelievable. Group hugs after each and every goal, blown out voices and tear filled eyes.
|Fans of the new Stanley Cup Champions|
Since I came home specifically for this, we were obviously going to the Parade and had to get tickets to the Stanley Cup Rally(pics/vids)! Never in my life have I ever wanted to go to a parade(ya, I am sure some of you are thinking.."with that hair, I can think of a few parades you might be interested in attending). Anyways, I couldn't believe that I was actually able to snag 2 tickets on ticketmaster at 6pm after trying for two hours during the pre-sale. One of my brothers was able to grab 1 ticket and then I was fortunate enough to get 1 other ticket for my niece to come along with us. She was so sad that she couldn't go to any of the playoff games so, I tried my hardest to get her a ticket. I am very thankful to Birdman on LGK for sending me a ticket. She loved every minute of it and said that it was the highlight of her entire year!
|Dad, Dan, Lindsey, Myself|
My Dad walked past me this morning, 7 days after the victory, and said "That was great! That was something else". He then came back 30 seconds later. Gave me a hug and said "Thanks again. An experience of a lifetime." He definitely was right.
|My Dad at his 70th Birthday Party! Aug. 4th 2008(Pics)|
The decision for me to fly 6,000 miles home to be with my Dad for such a meaningful time was the easiest decision I've ever had to make. It was meant to be. Like my Dad said, an experience of a lifetime and hands down the best year of my life.
Thanks for reading, and always...