It all started on November 22, 2016. My family and I were in Las Vegas celebrating Thanksgiving the Diaz family way (you should read that as getting really drunk and losing a lot of money). My brother and I were walking across the pedestrian bridge going from the Planet Hollywood to Bellagio when we saw this gigantic sign announce the name of the new NHL expansion team based in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights were bestowed upon us from the heavens around Thanksgiving 2016, cementing Thanksgiving as the best holiday ever (don't @ me), and since that day, my brother and I pledged to be Golden Knights fans through thick and thin. Immediately we had our interest piqued on how they would go about drafting a team. Where would they get players? Are they going to stink to high heaven for like 5 years? They’ve got to stink right? My brother and I went straight to the Google machine with the intent on figuring out who they would draft and how they would come out in the expansion draft that was going to be held in June 2017.
Turns out the whole process of an expansion draft is frighteningly confusing and our supreme laziness won out and decided that we would just buy shirts and cheer on the team from our humble abode in El Paso, Texas.
But the long and short of the expansion draft is that the other 30 teams in the NHL would allow one of their players be chosen by the Knights on the day of the draft. So Vegas was going to pick one player, a player who was basically deemed non-essential by their club. Not cool. However, there were restrictions on who the Knights could choose. Teams had the right to protect 8 players and a goaltender. A typical NHL roster contains 23 players. Players who had been drafted or signed from other professional leagues were exempt from being chosen. So basically, there were only on average 8-12 players available from each squad. One would have to assume that the players made available were not the teams best players, I mean why would they be?
So Vegas sets up to take on this impossible task, the task of forming a competitive roster full of outcasts and rejects. At least thats how the players and coaches viewed themselves. And lo and behold, it worked.
IT. FREAKING. WORKED!
Granted, their uniforms are not the best, but they chose a team full of hungry, humbled, and dangerous individuals. They have turned the NHL on their head.
For awhile there, they had an impeccable home record. It came to be known as the Vegas effect as one could only assume that teams would come in from out of town and decide to have five too many cocktails with their dinner or they decide to stay out super late gambling their paycheck away at the craps table until the wee hours of the morning. On a school night no less!
Slowly but surely, they Vegas Golden Knights climbed the ranks of the NHL and before anyone could even say “bartender, I’ll take another whiskey sour and some change for the blackjack table” the Knights, led by the outstanding goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury and the domination of William Karlsson, stood alone at the top of the Pacific Division of the NHL.
Me, an average joe who likes to write jokes about sports as a hobby, was sitting at home wearing my Golden Knights hat finding it hard to believe that an expansion team could do as good as they were, much less looking to lock up a playoff spot rather early. Think about how dejected you would be as a human if you were told by your employer that you were not essential to the success of their organization and they LITERALLY GAVE YOU AWAY TO THE COMPETITION. Yeah I would probably go home and crawl under the covers and cry gigantic tears into a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream (don’t @ me , mint chocolate chip is an all time flavor. I’ll run circles around you all in the ice cream department.)
Now the first round of the NHL playoffs is coming to a close and the Vegas Golden Knights were the first team to sweep in this years playoffs and they were the first team in NHL history to sweep a playoff series in the organizations inaugural season. The whole thing is so cool to watch unfold, not just as a Knights fan, but as a fan of sports. If we’re being honest, I can’t even begin to think how cool the 30 for 30 on this Vegas team is going to be. I’ve already got goosebumps.
The Knights now go into the second round of the playoffs facing off against the San Jose Sharks, a team that I saw them play live this past Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to hoist that Stanley Cup Trophy over my head at the team parade.