Las Vegas Knights: My Cup Size Is Stanley
The only Super Bowl I need is the Stanley Cup. The fairy tale ending for the Vegas Golden Knights has yet to be written. There are at least 7 chapters left to be penned to bring the storybook season to an enchanting end with the hoisting of the Stanley Cup in unison at center ice for a quintessential Disneyesque finale. And they skated…. happily ever after.
Ending any story with a real sense of finality is perhaps the most difficult task for storytellers, especially the longer one runs. The further and further you move along, the more that is expected from you at the close. The same can be said for professional sports players, and in this case our Vegas Golden Knights. The inaugural season for the Vegas Golden Knights franchise has been nothing short of magical. This season has superseded any expectations that could have been raised for a sports team, be it imagined or unimagined. The Vegas Golden Knights have reimagined what Las Vegas is and could be. Stanley Cup or not, we as a city have already won. Our cup runneth over.
Interestingly enough, I have been reluctant to put pen to paper, so to speak, and type my thoughts on the Vegas Golden Knights’ spectacular regular season and this playoff series. This is not to say that I’m superstitious, but I have been known to skirt ladders and a black cat or two on any given Friday the 13th. I have been incredibly cautious to not stir up any cosmic energy that may have negative repercussions. The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun. Normal life is now on hold and will resume sometime in June.
Thus, I continue to wear my unwashed bedazzled VGK hockey jersey with junior size shoulder pads only on game days when the puck has been dropped. As was the case with Brendan Shanahan (Former NHL Forward), I also have a habit of listening to only Madonna on game day. Ridiculous you say? How about this? I always put baby powder on the blade of my stick ala “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky! Just sayn’…
Here’s the cold, cruel reality on the perception of any city without major league sports – you’re second tier and not considered great. No one loves Las Vegas more than I; after all, we are the Entertainment Capital of the World, but there was always a stigma associated with our city because we did not have a professional major league sports franchise. The Vegas Golden Knights broke the ice and shattered the glass ceiling once and for all by paving the way for not only the NHL but the WNBA and the preeminent league in all of sports…the NFL.
Steve Sisolak, chairman of the Clark County Commission and now a candidate for Nevada governor, was instrumental in bringing both an NHL team to Las Vegas (in the Golden Knights) and an NFL franchise (with the Oakland Raiders’ 2020 move to the valley).
Sisolak views the growth of professional sports in the city as a step forward, with every addition of a team, event, or venue being progress. The Golden Knights debut, along with the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas, are among the biggest building blocks in transforming the city. “We have NASCAR, we have the Aces, the Lights, a new 51s stadium in Summerlin, along with the T-Mobile Arena and the Golden Knights,” the county commission chairman lists. “The Raiders’ stadium will reinforce that Las Vegas is the entertainment – and sports – capital of the world.”
We Las Vegans can now collectively say that we are “the” preeminent force in the world of sports and the game of hockey in particular. We’re a force to be reckoned with on or off the ice, court, or gridiron. To the competition we say, “You have met your match, and we will not be deterred.” Our teams, players, and facilities are world-class.
No one really believed and few expected that the Vegas Golden Knights as an expansion team in this, its inaugural year, would fare very well. Vegas Sportsbooks had their odds at clinching the Stanley Cup at 500-to-1. Now, here we are facing off against the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one round away from the finals. Two adjectives come to mind: stunning and miraculous.
Our team, affectionately known as the “Golden Misfits,” may have been cobbled together as a team of castoffs, but they’re our castoffs. With a 51-24-7 record, the Vegas Golden Knights became the first modern-era expansion team, without mergers and divisions of only expansion teams, throughout North America’s four major professional sports leagues to finish first in its respective division in its inaugural season.
Even as we entered the NHL playoffs, many in the hockey world believed our luck would soon run out. And then we dispatched the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in a four-game sweep in the first round of the playoffs. Our second round series win over the Sharks required only two more games. Now, we are in a face-off with the Winnipeg Jets. Perhaps this is our version of the “Miracle on Ice”. Do you believe in miracles?
United We Stand
Sports are interesting in the fact that they can have an impact on the psyche of one’s individual or collective well-being. Without being maudlin, the events of October 1st, 2018 changed Las Vegas forever. The horrific and unspeakable act that transpired on a date forever etched in the annuls of Las Vegas history will never be forgotten. Our community was in dire need of healing and was soul-searching for answers, when along came the Golden Knights. From the depths of despair, sports and the game of hockey brought us, the city of Las Vegas, together in a unified spirit to rise above man’s inhumanity against one another and embrace the humanity that can exist with one another. This team represented hope in the face of evil. The timing of this cannot be seen as serendipitous as much as it was fate and destiny.
It has been said that we don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path. The Vegas Golden Knights were meant to cross Las Vegas’ path; now the only question left to be answered is, “Is the Stanley Cup its destiny?” You can’t fight fate. I choose destiny.
We are Vegas strong.