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The newest franchise to play in the National Hockey League is the Vegas Golden Knights. Playing their first game on October 6th, 2017 in Dallas, the team earned their first victory via a 2-1 win. They would win their first home game just a few nights later by a score of 5-2 against the Arizona Coyotes.
It had been the topic of conversation for decades around the major sports leagues – which would be the first to put a franchise in Las Vegas? The NHL stepped in with the Golden Knights to bring the first major professional sports team to Sin City. While the league has had a presence in the city since playing a 1991 outdoor game there (and a few other events since), it was not until 2014 that talks really began to heat up following the completion of a new indoor arena.
Billionaire businessman Bill Foley, along with the Maloof family, won the bid from the NHL and a new hockey club was born in the desert. Comprising a team through the NHL expansion draft and free agency, the Golden Knights were able to put together an impressive roster for a new squad. Highlighted by former Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and veteran contributors in William Karlsson (who signed on for another year with the team), Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith there is no shortage of leadership on this squad.
Clad in their colors of steel grey, gold, red, and black, the Golden Knights, under head coach Gerard Gallant, quickly found their way in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. While no captain has been named as of yet, the team relies on a system of three alternate captains for home games and three other alternate captains for away games.
Jumping out to early success, Vegas defied the odds by navigating through the NHL schedule with great success, earning a playoff berth in their first year of operation as winners of the Pacific Division. Matching up against the Kings, the Golden Knights breezed past LA with a clean sweep. In the second round, Vegas took care of the San Jose Sharks in six games to advance to the Western Conference Finals against the Winnipeg Jets. In a hard-fought third round, hockey’s newest team prevailed in five games to reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 2018 Stanley Cup Finals saw the Vegas Golden Knights competing against the Eastern Conference’s Washington Capitals. In a phenomenal five game series packed with action and spectacular play, Vegas came up three wins short of a championship. Washington, ultimately, prevailed on the ice at T-Mobile Arena. The offseason saw David Perron and James Neal move on to St. Louis and Calgary respectively. The team used this opportunity to add another star by signing Paul Stastny from Colorado to a three year deal worth $19.5 million. Vegas rewarded their goaltender for his stellar play with a new three year deal worth $21 million, ensuring the Marc-Andre Fleury will backstop for the Golden Knights for the foreseeable future.
Adding to their ranks is Max Pacioretty. The former captain of the Montreal Canadiens was traded to Vegas prior to the 2018-2019 season for two players and draft considerations. He inked a new deal to stay in Vegas for four years to the tune of $28 million. Young star Alex Tuch got his first real start in Vegas last year and put up some great numbers. Already eclipsing those figures this year, he is on his way to becoming a bonafide NHL star.
Proud of all they have accomplished in their first season, Vegas has hockey fever and the only cure is to bring the Cup to the desert. This team will be out to prove that last year was not a fluke and that they are a sustainable elite opponent in this league. Additional information about this new franchise can be found by clicking here.