Resplendent in a pinstripe sports jacket that would have made the oldtime Vegas mobsters proud, Derek Stevens was in his No. 1 seat at his Longbar inside The D Resort & Casino representing Detroit and the Golden Knights.
It was a site fitting of the Mayor of Downtown, a tag pinned on Stevens by Brent Musburger who first became enamored of Stevens during the NCAA basketball tournament when he bet nearly 100 grand on all 32 first round games in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament back in March. Stevens has since become a weekly fixture picking college and NFL games on Musburger’s morning edition of “Guys in the Desert” on VSiN.
Of course the Michigan Wolverines were on the big screen above his position playing Indiana, but the conversation focused around Stevens living the dream, seeing both of his favorite NHL teams meet on the ice and then less than 24 hours later playing host to the Stanley Cup in front of his hotel.
“Friday was a pretty special day and we were really excited about the game,” Stevens said. “I had mixed emotions so decided to wear a Golden Knights jersey and a Red Wings hat.”
Both the Wings and G-Knights have been surprises on the plus side in the early going and for two periods it appeared Vegas was in line to become the first-ever expansion team to start an inaugural season 4-0. But regulation hockey games are 60 minutes, not 40, and when Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury took a shot to the head in a goal crease collision late in the second period, you could feel the momentum shift to Hockeytown.
“You really could feel the shift there,” Stevens said. “But it was a great game and it’s great to have all these teams come to Las Vegas now.”
Vegas owner Bill Foley is on record saying he expected the Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup in six years. It took that long for the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Cup as an expansion team and it just so happens Stevens has a six-year commitment with the Golden Knights.
“We wanted to be with the Golden Knights for a while,” he said. “I think it will be fun watching kids develop in the organization. We have a lot of things planned downtown with the team for the fans. I love this community and the Golden Knights.”
Encore: The minor league team in Chicago has made an early contribution to the Golden Knights’ 4-1 start. Forwards Alan Tuch had a goal and an assist while Vadim Shipachyov scored a goal in their first games with Vegas. Shipachyov joined the team replacing Erik Haula, who like Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault was placed on the injured reserve list. The injured players are expected to miss at least a week.
Shipachyov played the last nine seasons in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League and helped guide SKA St. Petersburg to KHL championships in 2015 and 2017. The victory also showed Vegas has a goalie they can depend on when Fleury is not in the net. Malcolm Subban stopped 21 of 22 shots in the 4-1 win against the Bruins, his former team.