Though he'd secretly been working in the gym to make sure he could lift it, when Robbie Laird's turn came Monday night, his adrenalin made the Stanley Cup seem weightless.
``I've watched this celebration for countless years, and to finally partake in it was a little unreal,'' the former Komets player and coach said. ``You just want to hoist it and kiss it and pass it on. It's something I'll never forget.''
Because he's the senior pro scout for Los Angeles, Laird, 58, was on the ice as the Kings celebrated after ousting the New Jersey Devils in six games. After taking a 3-0 lead, the Kings won the series in six games. During the post-game show, NBC Sports Channel showed Laird lifting the Cup for about 10 seconds.
``The real emotions for me came about a week before with all the different feelings that you have starting with feeling really good about the team and having a chance to win,'' Laird said Tuesday on his way home to Fort Wayne from Los Angeles. ``You're obviously excited that there's a possibility you may win the Stanley Cup, and then New Jersey won those two games and some anxiety creeps in.
``I've had so many different calls and texts from people in the business. They all had a lot of good words. That's probably the neatest thing about this. I've reconnected with a lot of people that I haven't chatted with in quite a while.''
It's only because of Laird's persistence that he still had a chance at the Cup. A 19-year-old seventh-round draft pick from Regina, Saskatchewan, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1974, Laird broke his wrist in three places during his first day of training camp. The Penguins sent him home to heal, and then to Fort Wayne.
He played in only one National Hockey League game, getting called up in an emergency by the Minnesota North Stars. On Feb. 26, 1980, Laird skated 10 minutes against the Vancouver Canucks. He didn't get his picture taken or get to keep his jersey afterward, and he also never got another chance.
Five years later, Laird started his coaching career with the Komets. He worked his way through the minors again to become an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals and started in the Kings' system 18 years ago. No one in the hockey office has been with the Kings longer than Laird.
As a scout, he helped the Kings sign many of the players who were on the ice Monday night. His goal was always to help a team win the Stanley Cup.
``After being on the ice, we went into the dressing room and the coaches' office and it was a pretty wild scene in there,'' he said. ``It was a very crowded dressing room. Champagne was flying all over the place.''
Following that, there was a reception held for players, staff and family members at the Staples Center.
``It went on until late night and it was a good time,'' Laird said. ``I pretty much just sat there soaking it all in, and that was good enough for me. It was just fun.''
Laird said last week he started writing down everyone he had worked with in the Kings' organization over the last 18 years. Then he thought about all the people from Fort Wayne who'd had an influence on his life.
``Once you are in the hockey business, it's the ultimate goal from the time you are a kid,'' Laird said. ``It's satisfying. I really felt fortunate to be in this position. You have to be lucky, and the timing has to be right. I was really so fortunate, more than anything.''