NEW YORK — Tyler Toffoli was reminiscing about winning the “Stanley Cup” while playing hockey with his friends when he paused, almost to reflect on the journey that’s brought him to a win away from having his name on the real silver trophy.
“It’s so long ago,” he said. “It’s crazy where we’re at now.”
Neither were on the roster two years ago when the Kings won their first Cup. Toffoli spent time as a Black Ace during that run, but wasn’t with the team when they clinched in Game 6 over the Devils. Pearson went 30th overall in the first round of the NHL Draft 11 days after LA’s victory.
After spending time together with the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, the two are on the cusp of achieving a childhood dream, which explains the nervous energy that kept them awake Tuesday night.
“I fell asleep at 9 o’clock and I thought I was going to have the best sleep of my life,” said Toffoli, “then I woke up at 12 and couldn’t fall back asleep for another 4-5 hours.”
Fortunately for Toffoli and Pearson, they’re surrounded by a veteran group that’s been here before and that’s something that can help them keep their emotions in check before Game 4.
“Everybody’s had something to say,” Toffoli said. “[Matt Greene], Willie [Mitchell]… they’re making sure that we’re staying focused and obviously a lot of the guys have been around and they’ve won. You just look around, you see the veteran presence, even the young guys, they’ve won, they’ve been in huge playoff games.”
“There’s only a handful of guys who weren’t here when they won the Cup a couple years ago,” Pearson said. “The experience goes right through the locker room and us young guys are trying to do our part.”
When a much younger Pearson and his friends would dream of winning the Cup, they would carry around a big inflatable version sold by the NHL during the celebration. At some point Wednesday night, he might get the opportunity to lift the real thing.
“I think everyone knows what’s at stake here,” Pearson said. “Everyone’s going to do everything we can do finish this off.”
- - - - - - -