Vegas Golden Knights definitely worth investing in
December 26, 2017 1:30 PM
by Nick Pellegrino
Who would’ve figured the National Hockey League would be the most-welcome present found under most southern Nevada Christmas trees, gravitating the entire Las Vegas area community together. Indeed, the volume level inside T-Mobile Arena has been the true Sound of the Season.
Rebounding from the tragedy of “Ten-One” (our version of “9-11”), residents joined together as Vegas Strong, thanks to the unprecedented success of the expansion Golden Knights – the club that also kept hockey bettors happy with the strongest ROI (Return on Investment) among all 31 NHL clubs.
And with the scheduled relocation of the NFL Oakland Raiders in two seasons and the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars to the Las Vegas Aces this summer (what was wrong with Silver Stars in maintaining an Old West motif in the Silver State?), it’s ironic to me that suddenly there will be more major league sports in Nevada than in my hometown of San Diego.
Talk about a major league impact!
No matter how the Golden Knights finish the season, there should be a parade for Santa (general manager George McPhee) and his No. 1 elf (head coach Gerard Gallant) – or are those in charge waiting for mid-June when the Stanley Cup Playoffs conclude?
It could be the ultimate in wishful thinking, yet the Knights are proving Al Michaels might be right about believing in miracles, not only in 1980, but in 1960, too, when the first Miracle on Ice occurred and Team USA defeated the Soviet Union (plus Canada and Czechoslovakia) for Olympic gold in nearby Squaw Valley, Calif., behind goalie Jack McCartan.
A member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in his home state of Minnesota, McCartan went 7-0-0 in the Games, then played briefly for the N.Y. Rangers before finishing in the minors with several clubs, including the original San Diego Gulls of the Western Hockey League in the 1960s.
2018 & Beyond
The NHL will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, featuring the Buffalo Sabres and the host Rangers from Citi Field in Queens, the home of baseball’s New York Mets.
In as little as three years, this traditional outdoor game could come to town. However, the Raiders Stadium, under construction at Russell Road at Dean Martin Drive (just west of Interstate 15), will be domed.
Who cares! Just bring in four East Coast teams (yes, skip the Knights) and make it a doubleheader for the ages and a New Year’s to remember. Or Vegas can make New Year’s Eve (like they will vs. Toronto this week), then play a twin-bill on the next day. Talk about a hockey party, with no Section 408 permit needed to control the flood of fans.
Later, Honda All-Star Weekend from Amalie Arena in Tampa, Jan. 27-28. Two months later, it’s the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series from the U.S. Naval Academy’s Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md., as the Maple Leafs meet Washington on March 3.
Over the river
The proliferation of NHL games going Over the posted total is finally starting to dissipate. On Saturday, only 3-of-15 games went Over, including five shutouts. The holiday weekend could well have been the factor.
Included was a 26-save performance by Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, his 35th career shutout and first with the Knights in slowing the high-octane Washington Capitals.
Talk about a golden week for the Knights! Victories over two-time champion Pittsburgh, a last-second win over No. 1 rated Tampa Bay, then a conquest of the Caps, the two-time President’s Trophy winner.
Vegas (23-9-2) is in a three-way tie for second overall in the NHL with 48 points. However, “my” L.A. Kings and St. Louis have played at least three more games than “our” Knights. How this isn’t the biggest story in the NHL each night is hard to fathom.
This week will be a rough back-to-backer on the road, starting Wednesday in Anaheim, followed by a meeting with the Kings. NHL officials were kind to Vegas, giving them the fewest B2Bs in the league; Ottawa has the most at 18.