The Vegas Golden Knights are off to a pretty good start. 3-1-0 sitting 10th in the entire NHL. Not bad for an expansion team. In fact, their 3-0-0 start was the BEST among expansion teams. This is pretty incredible considering their team is a big giant mesh of NHL and AHL players from different organizations. The Golden Knights are absolutely the coolest thing the NHL has offered since the shootout in 2005 (which isn’t even that cool). The NHL has taken away the Olympics, fighting (for the most part), and has implemented numerous lockouts that ruined the lives of all NHL fans. HOWEVER, The Vegas Golden Knights are freaking awesome and I commend the NHL for implementing the first professional sports team there.
When I first heard the news in 2016 that Gary Bettman was trying to bring hockey to Las Vegas I thought, “wow, what a dumb idea.” Why Vegas? Why would the NHL ignore potential hockey markets like Seattle, Quebec, Hamilton, or why not even a second team in Toronto? Well, apparently Gary Bettman saw something in Vegas we all didn’t see, which is still very much unclear in my opinion, but hey it’s working! Let’s take a look at why Vegas is off to a strong start and why the fans have so much to love about this team.
James Neal: James “the Real Deal” Neal, as a lot of people like to call him, has been on fire. There’s just not much else this guy can do for this team. He scored the first goal in Vegas Golden Knights history on the road against the Dallas Stars on the power play. Later in that game, he scored his second goal of the night with under five minutes left in the game to give the Vegas Golden Knights their first win history. Fast forward a few nights in Arizona, James Neal creates magic again, winning it in overtime. This guy can name my first born child. 6 goals in 4 games, Come on now, he’s a bad bad man.
Nate Schmidt: This guy has all the talent in the world. The 26-year-old defensemen has made his mark in Vegas. 3 points in 4 games on the season is a solid start to the campaign. Bringing his offensive-minded play on the power play has helped Vegas tremendously. The guy skates like his life depends on it each and every shift. For a defensemen, the hands on this man are just filthy. Every NHL team needs that defensemen who is going to be the quarterback on the ice. This means always looking for open players on the breakout, always looking for the open man on the power play, and always looking for an open shot towards the net, and lastly protecting his own. He hits all of these areas for me. This guy is for real.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Vegas could not be more thrilled to have picked up this man during the expansion draft and I’m sure Fleury could not be more thrilled for a new start in Vegas as the bona fide starter. It’s a match made in heaven. 3-1-0 in his first 4 starts with a 2.48 GAA. This is what we expected out of Fleury and he has surely delivered. I couldn’t be more happy for the future hall-of-famer.
The biggest reason I think Vegas should be excited about this team was their mark in the community after the tragedy that occurred in Las Vegas. During their home opener, their boards read nothing but the slogan, “Vegas strong.” On the ice, all 58 victims were honored with 58 seconds of silence and their names projected onto the playing surface. During player introductions, each player was accompanied by first responders, and people who had helped during and after the shooting. Even prior to the home opener, the players and the organization were active in trying to help the city back on its feet. This is why we need sports. When we’re in a time of despair, sports are an outlet for healing. Whether it’s the players being involved in the community, or simply just turning on the game to escape reality for a bit, sports has a special way of helping us forget the bad in the world. If you don’t believe me, look at Mike Piazza’s home-run after the Mets’ first game back after the attacks on September 11th, 2001.
Vegas, has done an amazing job responding to this hockey club and brought so much passion to T-Mobile Arena their first two home games. I had doubts at first, but from what I’ve seen they have all the makings of being a real hockey market where players are proud to call themselves Golden Knights. I’m excited to see what the Golden Knights will accomplish, although they aren’t a strong/skilled team, I think the Knights will be a force in the NHL this season. Go Knights Go!