LOS ANGELES -- The Stanley Cup barely had the Los Angeles Kings' fingerprints on it before Darryl Sutter suggested they should start preparing to win it again.
"The first thing you think about as a coach, these guys are all young enough, they've got to try it again," the coach said Monday night, mere moments after raising the Cup for the first time himself.
That's just how a pragmatic farmer from Alberta thinks about everything, but Sutter didn't allow his mental preparations for a sequel to stop him from celebrating this irreplaceable moment with his players.
The Kings partied until well after midnight at a restaurant overlooking the Staples Center ice, where Los Angeles completed its 16-4 rampage through the post-season to the franchise's first NHL title.
After nearly 45 years without a Cup, after 41/2 decades with one division title and one conference crown to show for their existence, and after eight straight years from 2002-10 without making the playoffs, Los Angeles and its Kings had earned every minute of it.
Music boomed and drinks flowed for a few hundred friends, family members and Kings employees hanging with the players. Everybody seemingly got a chance to raise the Cup above their heads for triumphant photos. The Conn Smythe Trophy also attended, and plenty of people borrowed Jonathan Quick's hardware long enough to chant "M-V-P!" for themselves.
The Kings weren't thinking much about how they became the first eighth seed to win a title, or how they won 10 straight road games this spring, or how they made the second-fastest run in modern NHL history to the Stanley Cup. They already knew.
"It's got to come from the room, and guys have to make a decision to work," said Quick, the record-setting goalie who carried the Kings through long stretches of the regular season.
"I think we did that. You can't say enough about this group and how hard they worked."
And then everybody danced, ate and sang at a party 45 years in the making. Later, several players took the Cup to one of their favourite pubs in Hermosa Beach, one of the beautiful South Bay seaside towns where nearly all the Kings live when they aren't chasing hockey hardware.
This party will go on all week. The Cup and several Kings are scheduled to make appearances on The Tonight Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live, and a parade down Figueroa Street is scheduled for Thursday, with thousands of southern California's devoted hockey fans expected to turn out for their first title celebration.
-- The Associated Press