CaliSports News

Interview with LA Kings’ Legend Daryl Evans

Daryl Evans

I have to admit. We here in the Kingdom have been very fortunate to have the wonderful hockey personalties that we have, and have had here over the 51 years of existence of our beloved Los Angeles Kings. Personalities that have impacted our lives in so many different and positive ways. Whether it’s players like Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne, who were LA Kings’ superstars and eventual Hall of Famers, and are still seen hanging out with the team and fans as Kings’ ambassadors. Or Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake, who are also in the Hockey Hall of Fame as star players, and after their playing careers ended, they returned to the Kings in management positions, giving back to the organization that trusted them with their first opportunities to play in the NHL, and to a fan base who adored them. There’s also Bob Miller, who never had to play a single game on that ice, but yet was an integral and influential part of almost every one, and forever will be in both our minds and hearts. Even “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky has returned here and there, (well he does still live in LA but still). We’ve seen him pop up at the Staples Center to catch a few Kings’ games just because, look nervously sick and slumping in his seat if the Kings are losing the game, raise up and applaud if the Kings win the game, praise Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick to whomever is interviewing him before, during or after the game, before he ‘ninja vanishes’ into the air as Hockey Gods normally tend to do, before returning again and restarting that cycle. These are people who we embraced as fans, and not for just for their on ice heroics while bleeding in the armor of the LA Kings, or for their abilities to inform, calm and nurture us while in the broadcast booth, but for their off the ice appearances as well, and to be honest, that’s the most important part. We embraced them because they have embraced us as well, and even though eventually they get traded away or retire, leaving us for periods of time, they still always find their way back to us in LA. They always come back home.

(photo credit to steadicam-la.com)

Another one of those personalities that we cherish, is non other than former Kings’ player, “Miracle on Manchester” hero, long time Kings’ radio color commentator, owner of some of the greatest looking suits in human history, and is someone who has been relentless with his non-stop contributions and assistance to many important charities and events that have assisted so many people in and around the city of Los Angeles, that man of course is Daryl Evans, and he always does it with the biggest, friendly smile.

Born on January 12, 1961 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Evans was drafted by the Kings 178th overall in the 1980 NHL entry draft. Who knew at the time, that 37 years later, Evans would still choose to be with the Kings, and we would refuse to let him go. Best known for scoring the overtime winner to complete the record breaking comeback playoff game for the Kings against the mighty (and Gretzky led) Edmonton Oilers back in 1982, forever known as the “Miracle on Manchester,” Evans isn’t only defined by that historic accomplishment, as he has done so much more for us in the Kingdom in many various and creative ways since then, and will continue to do so because that is who he is, and that is why we all love him.

(Evans, my good friend and colleague Ryan Cowley and I at the HHoF in Toronto in 2015)

I first met Mr. Evans at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo years ago, and wasn’t surprised at all by how approachable and friendly he was. I was fortunate again to bump into him two more times, once at the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, while his friend and long time colleague, Nick Nickson was being inducted into the shrine, and then again in Buffalo, NY for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Each and every occasion where the same. He had a huge, warm smile on his face, and he was happy to take some time from his busy schedule just to talk to you, (or take a selfie, which answers the question that I know some of you are going to ask me on twitter. The answer is two selfie’s, and one regular picture with Daryl that my wife took of us for those of you who are keeping score).

I now have been fortunate a fourth time as I recently got to interview and talk to Daryl Evans, who had just finished some important commitments that day and still had some more to attend to later that day, yet still made time for our interview and talk to me for 40 plus minutes on phone. In many ways, Mr. Evans is the Santa Claus of LA Kings’ hockey as he just keeps on giving and giving, so without further ado, here is what Daryl happily shared with me during our conversation.

Who were your hockey heroes while growing up?

At that time with the league being so small, it was really easy to latch on to individuals, certain type players like Bobby Orr, Yvan Cournoyer because of his skating. Bobby Hull because of his shot. There were so many great players and with the few amount of teams in the National Hockey League, you’re really able to get to learn more about the players and see the way that they play. You can kind of focus in a little bit more on them. So those are a few that come to mind now, but I really admired the entire league at that time, when initially there were only just six teams when I started watching.

(photo credit to thehockeynews.com)

You were drafted by the Los Angeles Kings 178th overall in the 1980 entry draft. What were your initial thoughts and feelings about being drafted by the Kings?

You know, you’re always happy to hear your name at the draft. I think my initial reaction about being drafted by the Kings after a number of guys that I played with had been drafted by some of the more traditional teams in Detroit, Chicago and teams like that, you kind of didn’t know what to expect. But again, I was just thankful for being drafted and it turned out to be something great and something that I will always be proud of and be a very special part of my life.

During the 1981-82 regular season, the Kings called you up from their farm team in the IHL, the Saginaw Gears. How did it feel to be finally playing in the NHL?

I think it kind of goes in stages. It starts at the draft, and then it’s going to training camp and then eventually getting into some exhibition games in the Forum in Los Angeles at the time. But I will always remember getting called up and playing in my very first regular season game, which was a game in Denver, Colorado against the [Colorado] Rockies. It was very special and something I will never forget. It was something that you dream about as a kid, especially for a youngster growing up in Canada. It was a dream to play in the National Hockey League and it was a dream come true to have it happen when I was 21 years of age, it made it really special.

At the end of that ’82 season, You and the Kings were set to face-off in the playoffs against a young and speedy Edmonton Oilers team, led by the young phenom Wayne Gretzky. This of course led to the historic “Miracle on Manchester,” and the legendary overtime winning goal you scored to complete that miracle comeback in game 3. Going into that series, what was the Kings’ strategy that was put in to place once you guys learned you’d be facing those Oilers?

Initially when you looked at the Oilers, a team that finished 46 points ahead of us during the regular season, it really wasn’t much of a match up. It was kind of like a men against boys type of thing based on where they were on the standings. I think our approach to a short series, which was a 3 out of 5 game series back at that time, the first game was on the road and we were just going to go in there and just play a game and make sure we kept giving ourselves a chance to win by being able to stay competitive. There was a few things leading in to game one that was really unique. That was when the roster got expanded from 19 to 20 players. And that was really the only reason that I was able to get into the line-up.

Oh wow.

Yeah, I was that twentieth player.

It’s crazy to imagine how things would have changed historically for the Kings if you weren’t brought on as that twentieth player.

Yeah. That first game got off to a very favorable start for Edmonton.  They were up 4-1 and eventually we battled back and we won the game by the score of 10-8. The 18 goals combined by both teams in a playoff game, still stands today as an NHL record.

Yes it does. That was one heck of a start to a series!

Yeah and that was my first ever playoff game! I scored 2 goals and had 2 assists and was the 1st star by Hockey Night in Canada, so it was something that you can never dream of happening. I mean first of all, to play in a playoff game, let alone to have the impact that you would have in a game that is in the record books. The next night with Edmonton winning that game 3-2 in overtime, and Gretzky scoring, it evened the series out. It was a really interesting series the way it went. In game 3, the “Miracle on Manchester,” we made that big comeback and winning that one was something that you don’t see all the time, as that one also still stands today in the record books as the greatest comeback in a game in Stanley Cup playoff history. Game 4 was won by the Oilers in Los Angeles two nights later, I believe it was 3-2 in overtime, and just to show you where everybody’s thought process was that I don’t think anybody anticipated that this series would go to a 5th game.

Yeah, all the experts predicted a crushing by the Oilers. You guys were the complete underdogs.

Yeah, it was just an interesting series. You know, both teams actually flew on the same charter going to Edmonton for game 5.

Well that’s intense.

It was a really unique series. It was a week that saw some crazy hockey. It was interesting to see that the Edmonton Oilers, who were a powerhouse and a high scoring team, it actually was the Kings that won the 10-8 game. It was the Kings that won game three 6-5 in overtime. And it was the Kings that won game five 6-4, while Edmonton was the team that won the low scoring games that were 3-2. I think afterwards, there was a lot that was learnt by them that eventually turned them into a dynasty. For them, it was one of those years that was a step backwards but many steps forward were made after that. They learned as much from that series as anything and for us, it was a little bit of a statement by having some success in the post season and getting up into the next round. It was a really exciting playoff series and a lot of fun and I was just happy to be a part of it.

(photo credit to lakings.com)

And a part of it you definitely were, with a fantastic playoff performance of 5 goals, 8 assists and 13 points in 10 playoff games. And before there was Alec Martinez, or Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Eric Belanger, Adam Deadmarsh, Gretzky, Robitaille etc. and their legendary overtime goals for the Kings, there was your overtime winning goal in that game 3 of that Edmonton series, the “Miracle on Manchester.” Could you take us back to that legendary game and tell us about your experience in it, what you were thinking after being down in that game 5-0, and then making that amazing comeback that led to your amazing goal, a goal that is still celebrated and talked about in the Kingdom today. Heck, I live near your birthplace of Toronto, Ontario, and as a kid who fell in love with the Kings back in 1987, I was even aware of the “Miracle on Manchester” game then, as it was still being talked about up here in Canada, five years after it happened! Now that’s a head turning historical moment, at least back then at that time, when the whole hockey world took notice of something special that was happening in Southern California. We’ve all heard the stories and the myths of that game, the Oilers were being super arrogant and were mocking the Kings, even head coach Glen Sather was mocking the Kings and all that, can you tell us what actually went down in that game, how that comeback was created and how your winning goal came about?

Well again, when you look at the way that the situation of the stage was set up in that game, first with the Kings winning 10-8 in Edmonton, and Edmonton winning 3-2, at that point I think everybody around the game of hockey probably thought that the Oilers were finally back in command. And the way that they started game 3 with a commanding 5-0 lead after 40 minutes of play, that was what everybody was expecting to see. To see the Oilers in complete charge and dominating the Kings. Our mentality going in to that 3rd period was, you know we weren’t necessarily focused on winning that game, but we wanted to make sure that we could recover in that period, win that period so to speak and take a little bit of momentum into game 4. I think because we scored a goal so early, with Jay Wells scoring just over a couple of minutes into the 3rd period, all of a sudden that was the first time that our crowd had a chance to cheer and it got them a little bit involved. The period continued and we seemed to keep building on a little bit of momentum and made it 5-2. I don’t want to say that it made it more respectable for us, but at least we were finally on the board a couple of times and were winning a period of hockey. At 9:56 of the 3rd period, myself along with a few of my teammates got ejected with 10 minute misconduct penalties and we were forced to go the locker room. That was when they had that rule that if there was any type of a fight or altercation, anybody that was doing any pushing and shoving and that kind of stuff, they would get those 10 minute waltzing penalties. I was one of those players so I spent the last 9:56 of the 3rd period in the locker room with some teammates just kind of listening to the game. The third goal was a big goal to make it 5-3 and then late in the 3rd period, the major penalty that was taken against Dave Lewis, who got high-sticked, that put the Kings back on the power-play for the remainder of the 3rd period. I think [Edmonton’s] Garry Unger’s major penalty made a huge impact on the result of that game. The Kings’ just continued to keep battling and when we made it 5-4, and I was in the locker room listening and just paying attention to what was going on, it was just a matter of if we had enough time on the clock to complete the comeback. You mentioned about the Oilers having that kind of cockiness that they had in that 3rd period, they did and it was rightfully so. They were a young group but they thought they were invincible at the time. They were very confident and they should be. You figure, if you were going into a run and gun type of game against the Oilers, it would definitely favor them. We were a group, that in that game and every game in the series, we were a team that had nothing to lose. So it was that ‘loosie goosie’ attitude that allowed us to just keep battling away. The clock seemed like it was running at a million miles an hour and yet it was feeling like nothing was actually happening. Time seemed to be standing still there in the last 30 seconds. Eventually we got a shot on goal and Steve Bozek got the rebound and put the puck in the net! It was really amazing capping that comeback in the 3rd period with only 5 seconds left! And that set the stage for going into overtime and I remember just kind of sitting there and talking to my teammates, all that I wanted was an opportunity to take a shift in the extra period. To just get involved in it because first you were skating in a game that we were behind 5-0 and now all of sudden it’s 5-5 and each and now every shift had an important meaning towards it. I remember just prior to the eventual game winning goal that the puck was shot on goal at [Oilers’ goalie] Grant Fuhr and Fuhr, instead of putting the puck down and putting it in play so one of his defenseman could handle it, I felt that him at the time holding on to the puck was something he might regret, just because you’re creating a face-off in your own defensive zone. And it did prove to be the difference in the game. Doug Smith did a great job at winning the draw and I just skated in behind Smith because the puck was there just behind his leg and I just let the puck go in the direction towards the net and it had eyes. It made its way over Grant Fuhr’s right shoulder and after that, it was nothing but a celebration that capped the greatest comeback ever in the playoffs. I mean, the league has been around for 100 years and no one had ever seen anything like that. Today, I think I’ve learned to appreciate it a lot more than I did in years past, as opposed to that actual moment when I was dancing all over the place with my teammates, I think it was something that as time has gone by, I think I now really understood what we had accomplished as a team with that comeback, and eventually going on to win that series.

Absolutely, and just me here, just listening to you describe what happened in that game is giving me goosebumps. It’s true about what you said about the NHL being around for 100 years now, and nobody had ever seen anything like that happen before, or have since! It truly is amazing, but here’s the BIG question that I always wanted to ask you and that’s … whatever happened to that “Miracle on Manchester” overtime winning puck that you scored? Where is that historical puck today in 2017?

That puck, as far as I know that I was given the right puck, is at my Mom and Dad’s house in Toronto.

Oh nice.

That was a gift given to them for everything they did for me and they still have it there.

That is very touching to hear. In Toronto, huh? Then that means it’s close to the Hockey Hall of Fame and to me. One day, I hope it ends up in there. To the Hall of Fame that is, not with me at my house, though that would be cool!

<Daryl laughs>

(photo credit to nhl.com)

After that ’82 season, and the following season after, you didn’t get to play as much in the NHL with the Kings, or later on in your career with the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs. You did still play a lot of hockey, but in the AHL with the New Haven Nighthawks, Binghamton Whalers and the Newmarket Saints. Could you tell us about that experience for you, who had just had a large taste of the NHL and the NHL playoffs, but now had to soldier on in the minors and what advice would you give to players today, that are going through that same experience?

Well I think the game today is a lot different. In my time, I came back the next year and played a full season with the Kings and played in all the games and I thought I had a respectable season with 18 goals and 22 assists for 40 points as a rookie coming off that playoff run, so I thought my next year would be a solid year. I remember going into a contract negotiation with the Kings and eventually it went to arbitration and things, for whatever reason, went down a different path than I would’ve liked. I would’ve liked to have done better of course but I had a chance to go down to the American Hockey League and do some good things down there. I set a record for the most goals scored in consecutive games, which was 13 straight games, erasing an old record from way back and eventually that record was broken by Brett Hull. He went on to do 14 games a couple of years later. I had scored 51 goals in 69 games down in New Haven. When I was in Binghampton, Washington’s farm team after being traded to the Capitals, I scored 40 plus goals there and had over 90 points. The unfortunate thing was that the opportunities didn’t arrive and I think there is a clear separation today in the NHL as to what your role is? I think if I was playing in today’s era, I think I would have been recognized more as an offensive type of player. You know, in order to succeed you have to be put in those type of situations and it seemed on my recalls I was put on the 3rd or 4th lines and again, of course you still have to prove yourself but I think had I been able to be put more in a position to succeed, I think might have been able to take advantage of it. I have no regrets for the way things went. I spent the last couple of years of my career over in Europe, a year in Italy and a year in England. In the league in Italy I scored a 100 plus goals over there and it was great but playing in the American Hockey League was a lot of fun and I met a lot of great people in a lot of different cities over the course of time. Regardless of what level you’re playing at, I think there’s a way to make the best of it and that’s what I did wherever I was.

You were briefly a part of the 1986-87 Toronto Maple Leafs, who were coached at the time by the hard-nosed John Brophy and owned by the notorious Harold Ballard. How was your experience with both Brophy as your couch, considering he had this huge reputation for being really tough as nails, especially when he coached in the ECHL and AHL, and your experience with the one and only Harold Ballard?

Well, growing up in Toronto, we all knew about Harold Ballard and were very familiar with him. I remember playing, most particularly in a playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings where I got a chance to play and he was around then. You know he was definitely a proud owner and he wanted to see his team win and he had quite the personality. He was different from a lot of the other guys at the time. John Brophy, I played for a very similar guy here in Los Angeles in Don Perry. They were guys that played against each other in the old East Coast Hockey League, so he was a very demanding coach, but he just wanted to get the best out of you. He was very competitive and he wanted to win each and every night. I was very grateful that I had a chance to put the Maple Leaf uniform on after having to grow up in the city of Toronto. It’s something that you dream about when there was only six teams around, and that Maple Leaf was something that you always looked at. So being able to do that and score at Maple Leaf Gardens as a member of the Maple Leafs, you know those are moments that you put in the old memory bank and just wish that it could have lasted a little bit longer, but unfortunately, that particular year in ’87 when we were in the playoffs, I know the Edmonton Oilers were waiting to play the winner of our series. We had a 3-1 series lead but we unfortunately lost that series to Detroit and they moved to go on. I was really looking forward to our team to win that series and then get another chance against the Edmonton Oilers. I think there would have been quite a bit of hype there with me having the success that I had against Edmonton back in ’82.

Okay, so with you Mr. Evans being born and raised in Toronto, Ontario and you having played for the Los Angeles Kings, becoming a Kings’ legend and have now worked for the Kings’ organization for many years now, but you also got to play with Toronto, and as you said, being a hometown boy, you were proud to wear the Maple Leaf, in 1993 in the Clearance Campbell Conference Final, we got the Leafs against the Kings for a chance to advance to the 1993 Stanley Cup Final … who does Daryl Evans cheer for? The public must know!

<Laughs> Ah well, I think already at that time there, I was definitely a King.

Right on, right on!

You go back to the loyalty to the team that drafted you and that was the team that gave you your first chance in the National Hockey League and who believed in you, so that’s where my loyalty would have always gone to. Maybe if I played for another organization for a longer period of time or would have had some moderate success there, but that was a tough one. That was a great series to watch, you know to have a chance to see Toronto making their way deep into the playoffs which was something they hadn’t done in a while, and to see the Kings go the farthest they have ever been, it was a great series, and great entertainment for all the fans out there. And boy what a finish it was. Unfortunately, it came to an abrupt end there for the Kings and they weren’t able to complete things that year but it was definitely something that went down in Kings’ history as one of their most exciting playoff years as well.

Now you have been back in Los Angeles for many years now, as the radio color commentator for the Kings’ organization, and also pop up on the LIVE Fox Sports West television broadcasts during the pre-game or intermissions as an analyst, was getting into hockey broadcasting something you always wanted to do? How did that career come about?

It was not even really a thought. I always thought about coaching and when I was finishing my career over in Europe, I ended up coaching in England. I was all set in going back there and had verbally agreed on a contract to go back and coach in England, and at a barbeque one weekend here in Los Angeles, I retired from the game of hockey and got into the automobile business for a while.

Oh really?

Yeah. I started off by selling cars out in the Valley, selling Cadillacs and then came a little closer, working in west LA, who at that time was the number 1 selling Cadillac dealership in the state at Martin Cadillac. After a short period of time there, I was the manager and earned master manager status for 7 straight years. But getting back into hockey, I guess I would say was due to a little bit of fate. I was actually at the airport picking my brother up and Sam McMaster had just been hired as the general manager of the Kings, and Sam and I went way back. He was the manager of my team when I was 9 years old back in Toronto. And they happened to be on the same flight and Sam was coming off the plane and I just had a chance to say hi to him while I was waiting for my brother. He asked what I was doing, so I told him that I was in the car business and he said, “Okay, since I’m going to need a car, give me your card and I’ll give you a call tomorrow,” and I’ll be darned, the next day he actually gave me a call and we ended up putting a deal together with the Kings and our dealership, and it was a deal that had some trade involved including a 30 second radio commercial. A period of time went by and the Kings had reached out saying that nobody had come out to cut the commercial yet, so I talked to my boss at the dealership and he said, “Why don’t you go down and do it? They’ll know who you are,” and so that’s what I did. The day I went down to cut the commercial, Mike Allison, who was Nick Nickson’s partner at that time, something had happened in his family and he was going to do that game that night and then fly back home the next day, and I don’t know if the game was the next night, or the next night after that, so I asked Nick who was going to do the next game with him and he goes, “I hadn’t really thought of that,” so I said, “If you want, I’ll do it with you,” and that’s how I did my first game.

(photo credit to lakings.com)

That’s amazing!

I had finally established myself in the car business, had my family, my son was just born and we had just bought a new house and the Kings were approaching me about coming on board full time to do the radio for the entire season and we just couldn’t come to terms, because I had established myself in the car business, and like I said, I had just bought a new house and my son was born, I couldn’t come back as much as I wanted to get back and get involved with hockey. It just didn’t seem like the right move at that time. So that’s when Cammi Granato was hired and she came on board and she elected that she was going to play with the national team and they asked me if I could do a few games here and there over the course of the year to fill in for her, and I said, “Yeah sure, I would be more than glad to,” and it turned out that I ended up doing 17 games that year and it was something that I really enjoyed doing. Come the end of the year, the Kings were opening up the Staples Center in the fall, so they approached me about coming over and directing out their suites and premier seat sales with my sales experience with high end automobiles, so I agreed upon that. A few weeks later, we broke ground in El Segundo where we were building a training center, which is now the Toyota Sports Center where the Kings practice, and I became the general manager of that. A short period of time after that they offered me the radio position and that goes back now 18 years. I look back and it seems it was only a blink of an eye, but I’m so happy to have gotten back into the game of hockey as much as I have and it’s just been such a pleasant ride for the last 18 years.

As a Kings’ fan, and I’m sure many Kings’ fans will agree with me, that we have been very fortunate to have, what I like to call the “Four Horsemen of hockey broadcasting,” with you and Nick Nickson on the radio, and of course Bob Miller and Jim Fox on television calling the Kings’ games, and to do it for so many years. I mean the chemistry you guys all had with each other was something truly unique and special, we really were very fortunate to get four guys who to us, felt like family for so long. We grew up listening and watching all four of you and not a lot of other fan bases out there can say that. Sure, maybe with one or two commentators, but not four that could explain the game and perfectly articulate it, while not talking down to it’s audience or the audience of the opponents, while also making the commentary fun and knowledgeable, and calling the game the way it was being played, without gimmicks or catchphrases. You guys told it like it was, and did it with so much class, respect and passion, and so many of us grew up to that. What was your experience like to be working with the likes of Nick Nickson, Jim Fox and of course Bob Miller, who recently had to retire due to health issues?

I have been very, very blessed to have been with the group of broadcasters we have. I’ve learned so much from each one of them. You know, when you look at Bob and the job that he does on TV, his preparation and the way he delivers things, those are things you’re going to miss and you’re right, I think the fans in LA, they’ve been educated on the game by our broadcasting team. I think you also find a comfort because when you look at it at the end of the day, the players come and go, the coaches are gonna change and you’re also gonna see a change in ownership. Bob, who’s been around for 44 years, and Nick Nickson for 35 plus years, and then Jim having his playing career cut short, and he’s now been broadcasting close to 30 years now, I think that people identify with us. We try to be as objective as we possibly can. We try to give them what we see and our understanding of the game and I think they appreciate that. So I think that common ground that the fans have been able to have through the broadcast team, I think has allowed them to keep up their loyalty when we’ve had some hard times, and some down times but I think it’s because of that, you kind of become an extension of the team. We play no part on what’s going on on the ice or anything like that, but I think we help deliver a broadcast that the fans are entertained by and look forward to watch and listen to.

(photo credit to lakings.com)

Alex Faust was recently hired by the Kings’ to be the new play by play commentator. What do you think of the new guy? Have you met him yet?

Oh he seems like a nice young guy. I haven’t listened to any of his work or anything yet, but being that the Los Angeles Kings and Fox Sports have brought him on board and they trust that they have made a good decision, then I think he’ll do well. You know regardless of who is gonna replace Bob, you’re looking at a position that everybody looks upon as irreplaceable and nobody is ever going to be the “next” Bob Miller. Again so many people have been accustomed to watching and listening to him over so many years so, it’s a great opportunity for him and also a tough spot to be in as well in regards to Bob. It’s such a high standard that it’s tough to follow. Anybody going into that position will just have to be themselves and create their own identity and not try to be Bob Miller, because that’s something that nobody will be ever able to do. I think our fans will be very receptive to Alex by listening and watching how he calls the games, I mean there’s definitely going to be a difference to it as everybody has their own certain styles so to speak, but it’s an opportunity for him to come into a very exciting team and a huge market here in Los Angeles.

Yeah for sure. We definitely welcome him on board and will be giving him a fair chance and are looking forward to see what he will provide to the broadcast, the team and the Kingdom. Now in 2012, the Kings made an amazing and dominant run to win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history, and then did it again by defying all known odds by making some incredible and at times, seemingly impossible comebacks, including being down 0-3 in the first round against the Sharks, and having to play in all of those game sevens on the road and everything to win the Cup a second time in 2014. As someone who is a former Kings’ player and who has also worked with the organization for 18 years, could you tell us about your experience in witnessing the Kings finally winning the Cup after all this time, and then do it again two years later?

Well it’s something that I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to go through as a player. I know as a broadcaster in 2012, the feeling that we had in calling the games and being there for every moment along the way, it was just something so special. I don’t think that you can ever duplicate what happened in 2012. 2014 was an incredible run, but an entirely different run. In 2012, because it was the first one, I think that’s the one that goes down in the books and that you’ll always have as that first memory. You know coming from being a number 8th seed and beating the number 1, 2 and 3 seeds and in the fashion that the Kings did it that year, winning 16 games and losing just 4 games in the entire playoffs, it was just an incredible run. It was magical. To actually have the Stanley Cup here all over Los Angeles and to go to all the celebrations, I remember when it first started with everybody having their turn with the Cup, it just seemed like every other night I was being asked if I could do this, or that and I would say, “Sorry nope, I’m going to a Stanley Cup party!” It was great. It seemed like the Stanley Cup was everywhere that we went. I think from having been around Los Angeles and watching the fans who have been following us for so many years, how special it was to them to win the Cup, it really was a nice feeling, a really neat feeling just to see the expressions on their faces during the parade and that, these people waited a really long time and put in a lot of time and a lot of support and with a lot of dollars to be a part of the Kings’ family. You know, 2014 with all the comebacks and all the game sevens on the road, I think one moment that really stood out was probably sitting in Chicago there in game 7 and I remember Nick Nickson and I were talking about, and referring to Chicago Stadium being one of the loudest buildings in the National Hockey League with 22 plus thousand people screaming in there, and the United Center there went from just pandemonium in there going into overtime, and then when Alec Martinez scored and we won the game and the series is over, we’re still doing our talk show and within 30, 40 minutes it was like it was a ghost town in there. There was no noise and you see people there taking down the boards and taking the glass out, it was like you went from one extreme to the other. That was a sight, and just an empty feeling to see that building the way it was. That was also an incredible run. Those 3 years were magical and no team in the history of hockey has played more games in a 3 year span than the Kings did. They were just a great group of players and to see the cohesiveness that they had, from the coaching staff on down to the trainers, the managers, again just seeing that family or brotherhood was so special and it’s one thing to win it once, and then you know how it feels, but to be able and go back and win it again with the same core of guys, I think that really was a neat feeling for that group of players.

Yeah, you just said it best right there Mr. Evans, it truly was a magical 3 years. From winning the Cup in 2012, to defending it up to the Conference Finals in 2013, and then winning it again in 2014, it was the best period in King’s hockey history ever.  Absolutely magical, until of course, the magic faded. After winning the Cup twice in 3 seasons, the Kings have now just made the playoffs once in 3 seasons, with that one playoff year bowing out to the Sharks in just 5 games of the first round in 2016. Daryl, in your professional analytical opinion, what happened? What went wrong?

Well there was a couple of things. I don’t necessarily want to give excuses, but I’ll say there were reasons possibly. I think when you look at the incidents that happened away from the game, the Slava Voynov incident, I don’t think the Kings have recovered from that yet. One of your top two defensemen on your team, a right handed shot defenseman, the Kings haven’t been able to fill that void since. He’s a guy that could play today’s style of hockey, he’d still be a star. He could play the power-play, he could carry the puck up the ice, a great skater, had great vision and great hockey sense, so they really missed him. You can also look at a couple of players that were on the blue line, defensemen that aren’t around today like Willie Mitchell, Robyn Regehr and recently Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, you know that experience you had back at the blue line, it’s tough to get back to that level. The Kings’ have got some great young defensemen with Doughty, Martinez and [Jake] Muzzin, that’s their core right there. They are in the process of establishing that next level of defensemen with Derek Forbort playing a full season. Paul LaDue shows promise for the years to come, Kevin Gravel as well, and Christian Folin who they just picked up, they are still looking for that depth. But if you put Slava Voynov back into that defense, it changes the whole complexion of the team. When the Kings accomplished what they did over that 3 year period, the National Hockey League collectively took a really close look at what the Kings were doing and it made some teams alter the way they played the game by trying to emulate the way the Kings played the game with that big, heavy style of hockey. I think right now we are seeing another change of gears with the game becoming a more quicker game, and the Kings have been notorious for being that big, heavy style of team, so they are in the midst of tweaking things a little bit. They still have that world class goaltender, arguably the best in the game in Jonathan Quick. They have Drew Doughty, arguably the best defenseman in the game and Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter up the middle of the ice as your one, two punch, I think they can match up with anybody from any team. So the core is there. What they need are the young guys like Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, who both made an impact on that 2014 team, they need those guys to get to that next level, as they have more experience under their belt now. They need their role players like Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford and those guys, they need to contribute a little bit more on the score sheet. And I think that’s one of the reasons why at the end of the season this year the Kings elected to change direction without Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter. They need to become a little bit more of a quicker team, a little bit more aggressive. They will always be notorious for being a strong, defensive team between the system that Darryl put in place and the players that bought into it, and the players that were drafted and what ‘becoming a King’ meant, that defense was always going to be the backbone of the franchise. They just have to find a way to get things done on the other end. At the end of the year last year, when Jonathan Quick and Ben Bishop were the goaltending tandem for the Kings, they had outstanding goaltending that arguably they should have won 14, 15, 16 games out of the last 20, but they couldn’t find a way to get the 3 goals. And that’s the magic number, you’ve got to find those 3 goals in this league and if you can get those 3 goals, you can win a lot of hockey games, so that’s what the Kings are looking into getting things tweaked in the offensive zone, and I think that John Stevens has a good grip on things. They changed the coaching staff but it wasn’t necessarily a huge change in personnel. Last year, Anze Kopitar had a subpar year when it comes to statistics, his numbers will go up this year. A healthy Tyler Toffoli will help them score more goals. Tanner Pearson, they can look at him to up his game again after having a career year. Jeff Carter had a solid year but collectively as a group, the bottom six players need to find that score sheet a little bit more. The Kings should be a better team next year. Just having Jonathan Quick in net after losing him for about 60 games, it should be a team that is a playoff team. And if the Kings can get themselves in the playoffs, we all know the success and the experience that they have that anything can happen, as we’ve seen so many times at that time of year.

(photo by Katharine Lotze)

Mr. Evans, you are very well known as being one of the most friendliest and approachable hockey personalities that fans can come up to and talk to, but you are also known as one of the most giving as well. You have consistently been a part of many charities and events that help out so many people in need all over the greater Los Angeles community. How did you first get involved with all of these wonderful charities?

When I first came out to Los Angeles, we had a core group of hockey fans and family around us, but I think we needed to spread the news about our game, the knowledge about our game a bit more up there. I took a lot of pride in getting involved in cancer clinics and things like that, and now being the director of Kings’ camp for a number of years, the twenty years or so that I have been doing that, so I take a lot of pride in getting new people to the game.

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the training center opened up in El Segundo, we put little Kings’ programs together, women’s hockey, just to get the sport out there. I think when it comes down to the charities, the American Heart Association, that one I sit on the board, and the Go Red for Women campaign. My mom went through some heart issues years back, I think that gave me a little bit more focus in that direction.

(photo courtesy of InsideSoCal.com)

I get as much involved as I can with the Children’s hospital and going to the hospital and visiting their blood drives and supporting all their efforts. The National Brain Tumor Society, I speak at a couple of their walks and things like that. The Ronald McDonald House for a number of years, I think almost 10 years or so, I have donated a hundred dollars for every power-play goal that is scored by the Kings. You know, I just feel very fortunate to be where I am from the game of hockey, so I just feel if I can give back just a little bit. I think you can make a huge impact on somebody’s life and I think there is nothing better than seeing that you can make a make a huge impact even for just one person’s life, you kind of hit the lottery. I feel very fortunate that I have been able to do that and the more things I can get involved with, I will.

(photo courtesy of @DarylEvans15 and @pris232 Grace)

 

There is also the starting of our run club, and the LA Run Club, who I do the hosting for and their 5k run, and this year we’re going to have a 5k and a 10k run with benefits going to hydrocephalus, and it’s just another way of reaching out into the community. The impact that we were able to have on people’s lives with our run club, you know we’ve had people who have had quadruple bypass surgery come out and run, and some people who have lost 30, 40 pounds, these are things that make you feel good when you see how important that it is for other people. The way you can impact and reflect on someone else’s life. That’s what I love to do with each and every day, if I could make a positive impression on somebody’s life then I’m doing what I need to be doing.

And that is exactly why Daryl, you are so loved and respected by the Kings’ fan base and community. I mean for everything that you have done for us, whether it was on the ice as a player like in the “Miracle on Manchester,” or from being behind a mic on the radio or television and us following your every word, to everything you do outside of the ice and the arena, when really you don’t have to do it if you didn’t want to, but you do it anyway and you get out there, and people see you there in person helping, participating, donating and helping out with all of these causes, that’s why you are so beloved by all of us and deservedly so, so really we are the fortunate ones here by just having someone like you with us, be here for us, and be a strong part of our lives. So thank you Mr. Evans for everything you do for us and have done for us, for the Kings and for the community of Los Angeles, so thank you sir.

Well I appreciate that. Your words are very kind, and I’m very proud, it’s an honor to be a part of this group. Hopefully it’s something that I’ll be able to do for a lot of years to come and continue to help and spread our great game of hockey. Our next step right now is our LA Lions’ program and that’s off and kicking in the right direction, and I’m the President of that group and now we have four teams that are gonna play this year, and hopefully next season we can take it to five and six. Then maybe in the one of the years in the near future, one of our LA Lions’ teams are going to win the Championship. So it’s just great to be around the game and to have our great Kings’ fans support over all these years.

I have no doubt that for sure that Championship is going to happen. And before I let you go here sir, I have just one last question and it’s a big one, are you ready for it?

Sure.

You are also well known for wearing these wonderful, shiny suits, which I have to admit, looks amazing on my HD or my 4K television, I have to admit, you look very sharp sir, very sharp. But who would win, and I know the answer but I am obviously very biased, but who would win … in a SUIT OFF … between you … and Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry? Who wins the suit off???

<Laughs> It’s funny, Don Cherry and I back in 2012, we were talking during those playoffs and he was asking me about my suits and going, “Gee, where did you get that suit?” I must have really got his attention if he was asking me about my suits! You know I have always admired the stuff that he wears, so I think from the standpoint of the suits, I’ve always liked getting dressed from going all the way back to my junior days, and I take pride in the way that I present myself so I have a little bit of fun with it now, especially when we’re going around the holidays and days like that. Some of those suits I’ll just wear for those particular games and then we’ll sign them off and donate them to the King Foundation, so again it’s another way to raise some money for our charity. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy coming out with some new stuff, especially when people are wondering and asking me, “What are you going to wear tomorrow night?” so it’s fun and I enjoy going shopping.

(photo courtesy of @DarylEvans15)

You know you’re doing something right with your wardrobe, when there are accounts on twitter that tribute the suits that you wear on television and at the games. I think that’s awesome and adds to the fun of things.

Yeah it is. It’s fun.

Well thank you Mr. Evans for taking the time today to do this interview for us here at CaliSports News, as I know you are a very busy man. As a long time Kings’ fan, and Daryl Evans fan, and even though we have met before previously, it is always a dream come true for me to get to talk to you about your career and the game of hockey. Thank you again.

You’re very welcome. It’s always a pleasure.

(Photo credit to The Santa Clarita Valley Signal)

* If you would like to donate or participate in any of the charities that Mr. Evans and the Los Angeles Kings are involved with, click on the links below. 

Kings Care Foundation.

American Heart Association.

Go Red for Women Campaign.

LA Kings Run Club.

LA Running Club.

National Brain Tumor Society.

Ronald McDonald House.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

ALS Association.

Be The Match Registry.

American Red Cross.

Face Off With Cancer.

**For those of you interested in registering your kids to the LA Lions Club, click on the link here, or for any LA Kings Summer Camp programs, click here.

***For those of you interested in the LA Kings Sled Hockey program, chick on the link here.

****For those of you interested in the hockey programs available at the Toyota Sports Center, click on the link here

***** Special thanks to Daryl Evans, Theresa Walsh Duarte, Ryan Cowley, Mario Hicks and Abby Duarte for their help with this interview and article.

(Not that it needs to be said, but Daryl Evans would totally kick my butt in an arm wrestling contest. Just saying!)

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