By David Villegas
With the 2017-2018 NHL season already underway, it has generated outside attention with the new team named the Las Vegas Golden Knights. This is the first major professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, as well as the first NHL expansion team since 2000.
Since the Las Vegas shooting occurred before the NHL season started, the Golden Knights held a pre-game ceremony at their first home game honoring the victims of the shooting. The Golden Knights team skated onto the ice with doctors, nurses, and first responders who saved hundreds of lives.
The team is surprising people by posting a winning record of 5-1-0. Forward James Neal has gotten the team the most goals in their first year. Neal was drafted in the expansion draft after playing with the Nashville Predators. The line of Alex Tuch along with Vadim Shipachyov and Brendan Leipsic has also been a reason why this team is winning.
Las Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant created this line because two other stars, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault, were injured in their only loss up to date 6-3 against the Detroit Red Wings.
Along with Marc-Andre Fleury, who has won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Golden Knights have a goaltender named Malcolm Subban.
He is the younger brother of P.K. Subban who currently plays for the Nashville Predators after being drafted from the Montreal Canadiens. Malcolm Subban scored his first win against his former team, the Boston Bruins.
The NHL has been criticized for choosing Las Vegas as a location for an expansion team instead of Quebec City, the city that also put in an application. Quebec City’s team, the Nordiques, moved to Denver in 1995 which was renamed to the Colorado Avalanche.
An article in SI.com notes that Las Vegas was accepted because the NHL wanted to address its geographical imbalance as well as the Canadian dollar being less than the US dollar because the price of oil crashed. Quebec City was also the smallest market in the NHL and the second smallest major league city.
There have been also criticism that bringing a hockey team to the desert wouldn’t work. An example of that is the struggling Arizona Coyotes franchise, which moved in 1996 from Winnipeg, Canada.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Arizona Coyotes want Arizona State officials to make public funding available for a downtown Phoenix arena, but current Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps and former Mayor Elaine Scruggs feel that the Arizona Coyotes are at fault for having a losing team.
So far, the Golden Knights have proven them wrong. They are currently 2nd in the Pacific Division of the NHL.