Ice Hockey in Las Vegas – The Surprising Success of the Vegas Golden Knights
Before their debut season commenced, they just wanted to compete. But now they might win a championship.
When you think of Las Vegas, chances are you think of gambling, nightlife and entertainment (and maybe the excessive amount of Elvis impersonators), but soon, you might need to add ice hockey to that list. This is all thanks to the surprising amount of success that new NHL franchise, Vegas Golden Knights have have enjoyed in their debut season, and their status as a genuine contender for winning this year’s Stanley Cup.
After having their expansion bid approved by the NHL in 2016, the Golden Knights became Las Vegas’ first major professional sports franchise, and made their competitive debut at the beginning of the 2017/2018 season. Less than seven months later, they have charged into the NHL postseason, and swept the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 in the opening round of the playoffs.
They still have to win eight more games to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but their regular season form combined with a perfect start to the playoffs means fans in Sin City could be witnessing a championship much earlier than expected.
Thanks to their 51 regular season wins, the Golden Knights topped the NHL’s Pacific division - winning seven more games than second placed Anaheim - and their performances have attracted a home crowd average of 18,042 people, the 17th highest in the league and a slightly higher average than the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
The Golden Knights’ first season success appears to have surprised even their own head coach, Gerard Gallant, who admitted ”When this all started in October, we just wanted to compete. Now we’re going to the second round of the playoffs. It’s unreal.”
After just wanting to “compete”, this Vegas franchise built mostly on draft picks and players who were not wanted by their former teams is continuing to surprise the hockey world, and is setting a high standard for the Oakland Raiders, with the famous franchise set to move to Las Vegas prior to the 2020 NFL season.
We are already dreaming of a 2020 trip to Sin City to watch both teams.
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