Kings Players are Family at North End Bar

To the regulars at the North End Bar & Grill, the Kings' quest for the Stanley Cup is personal.

The regulars at say their local watering hole is just a neighborhood bar full of familiar faces, good drinks, and a friendly atmosphere. 

Unlike most neighborhood bars though, the neighbors and regular patrons of this tucked away establishment in Hermosa Beach just happen to play for the Los Angeles Kings, who are currently on a quest to bring Los Angeles its first-ever Stanley Cup.

As the Kings look to sweep the New Jersey Devils tonight in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, North End's regulars are not just cheering on a hockey team, they are cheering on their friends and neighbors.

"It is all friends and family is what it is," said North End bar manager Ron Civlei, a lifelong Kings fan. "The people here are supporting the [players] more than anything."

Mike Altieri, the King's vice president of communications, recently told the Los Angeles Times that all but one player on the Kings' 24-man roster call either Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, or Redondo Beach home and according to Civlei, they all blend right in with the community.

"They are not like any other pro athlete," said Civlei.  "When they go around town, they don't throw their money around... they don't ask for special service," he said, adding that most players also drive around modest cars.

Even the North End doesn't like to flaunt its close connection to the team.   

Hanging high on a wall in the back room of the bar are autographed photos of the Kings' star players.  Each of the black-framed photos faces away from the bar and only those who seek out the pictures will find them. 

Nearby, a cork board displays a crude cutout of a recent LA Times article about the bar.

"Look at the hack job we did and just corked it up," Civlei points out.  "Most people would frame it up all beautiful... We like to keep it low key," he said. 

According to Civlei, many of the bar's regulars could actually care less about the Kings as an organization.  They are mainly concerned with supporting their neighbors and friends, he said.

"A lot of these people have been turned onto [the Kings] because they eventually found out that the guy they had been serving breakfast to three days a week is actually a Kings player," said Civlei as he looked around the bar.

At 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a full two and a half hours before game time, North End was already filling up with loyal Kings fans who were sent on scouting missions to stake out tables for friends and coworkers.  By 3 p.m., all the tables were accounted for. 

Sitting at one of the tables was Kenny Hon, who says the Kings' close connection to the South Bay makes them more of a community team. 

"We have kind of adopted them as our own team," Hon said of the Kings.  "There is a little bit more incentive and pride because the guys live here," he said.

If the Kings do happen to clench the cup tonight, one thing is for certain -- the North End will be celebrating. 

"Everyone will be going nuts," said one bartender.  "It is going to be electric."

Hon seemed to agree.

"If we win this game 4, I don't think a lot of people are going to work tomorrow," Hon said with a big laugh.   



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