Born out of fear, tragedy and ultimate victory, the Las Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Tuesday in their sixth season. won their first Stanley Cup.
The top-seeded Cavaliers in the West used a high-speed, elbow-sharp offense to crush the eighth-seeded Panthers in the East in five games. The Cavaliers, like the Panthers, are in their second trip to the Finals.
But while the Panthers won a championship game for the first time since 1996, the Cavaliers won the Stanley Cup second-fastest in the expansion era that began in 1967, behind only Edmonton. Oilers, who won the Cup in their fifth season in the league. (The Oilers played seven seasons in the World Hockey Association before joining the NHL)
“We’ve waited a long time to come back and we want to make sure we deliver,” said Vegas winger Jonathan Marchesot, who is in Vegas’ inaugural season. “This team has been unbelievable from the start.”
Captain Mark Stone handed the trophy to another first-season player, Riley Smith, also from the Panthers, after he held it up after the game. He passed it on to Marchessault, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
After a shaky start to Game 5, the Golden Knights opened the scoring about 12 minutes into the first quarter. Stone scored an unassisted short-handed goal after Las Vegas goalie Adin Hill stopped Florida center Alexander Barkov. Vegas scored again less than two minutes later.
Vegas scored four goals in less than 10 minutes in the second quarter, including Stone’s second, to build an insurmountable lead. The Panthers played without their leading scorer, Matthew Tkachuk, who was injured in Game 4. But Vegas is clearly the hungrier team.
Fueled by a raucous in-house DJ, cheerleaders and an over-the-top light show, Cavs fans prepared for a celebration during the third quarter that few could have imagined six years ago.
The history of the NHL is littered with failed franchises. Expand the club. Teams transferred to new markets. Teams on the move again. Remember the Barons of Cleveland? Kansas City Boy Scouts? The Minnesota Polaris?
So when Commissioner Gary Bettman held a press conference at a Las Vegas hotel in 2016 to announce that the city would be home to the Golden Knights, the league’s 31st team, critics responded. It’s no surprise to be skeptical.With the outside temperature up to 108 degreesBettman answers questions about the viability of professional hockey teams in a desert city where many residents are retirees or work night service.
A large group minor league hockey team – including Gamblers, Outlaws, Aces, Thunder and Ice Dice – struggling in Las Vegas. The Coyotes moved to Arizona from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season and were in such bad financial shape that the NHL had to take over the team at one point. Maybe hockey isn’t meant to be played in the desert.
Still, Bateman pointed to the city’s growing population and its reputation for entertainment.
“We think this is a very exciting opportunity not just for Las Vegas but for the league,” he said.
There are also questions about adding franchises in a city known for legal sports betting, which sports leagues, including the NHL, have long shied away from. Betting on hockey is not as popular as soccer, so there is little threat of players dropping the ball, Bateman said.
“We don’t worry about the integrity of our game,” Bateman said.
As it turns out, Bateman should have put his money on the team before it hit the ice for the first time. The Cavaliers seem to have overcome every obstacle thrown at them in their first season. They sold more than 14,000 season tickets before the team even had a name. The team moved into the T-Mobile Arena, already open on the Strip.
But after the team’s final preseason game, a gunman opened fire on a nearby concert at the Mandalay Bay Hotel about a mile south of the stadium, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. The team’s players, who were supposed to appear at a public rally the next day, became a rousing force in the city.them Fan-out The entire community thanked the police, donated blood and donated tens of thousands of dollars to help the victims, their families and EMTs.
Their reactions endeared the city’s shocked and grieving residents to their liking. Notably, the Cavaliers had an epic game. Led by three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury, the team started the season with a 500-to-1 long shot to win the Stanley Cup. However, they posted 109 points and a . 622 winning percentage in the regular season, both league records for a team in its first season, and by a wide margin. They made it past the first three rounds of the playoffs, defeating the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets, and won the first game of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals. The team lost its next four games and the series, but it left a distinctive mark.
“The team surrounded the town, and the town surrounded the team,” longtime Las Vegas resident Brad Kreel told me before the team’s final game of the season.
The WNBA’s ace came from San Antonio in 2018, the Raiders arrived a few years later from Oakland, Calif., and now the Athletics are also trying to find a stadium in the city, validating the NHL’s instincts despite the city’s status as the 40th largest media market in the U.S. , can support large sports teams.
Still, the Cavaliers are regulars now.they’re in the playoffs five of their six seasonsAlthough the chances are slim, it has shown the sports world that Las Vegas can support a professional sports team and that the team can be successful.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Vegas center Jack Eichel said. “It’s a very special organization that I’ve been lucky to be a part of. I’m starting to really enjoy being on the rink again.”
“I don’t know. Probably a big guy,” Marchessault said with a laugh when asked what kind of party Las Vegas was throwing.
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