Sunday, June 10, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Oh, what a night.
Our first hockey season didn’t end as we hoped, but the final game showed all the fight and passion that the Vegas Golden Knights are celebrated for worldwide. But, then again, who in Las Vegas dared to even dream of such things when the Knights took to the ice in their regular-season home opener last Oct. 10?
It took some brilliant minds to realize that Las Vegas could be a hockey town. And it took thousands of hockey-hungry fans to show their support through season ticket purchases well in advance of the first puck drop. But hockey happened.
And with the tragedy of Oct. 1 casting a pall over our city, how could we even think about anything as frivolous as the opening night of a brand new hockey adventure? And yet, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Who would have thought it would be the Vegas Golden Knights? But, they were here, they were ours and we, a million fans in Las Vegas and millions around the world, were theirs. It was an instant love affair that was somewhat reminiscent of the way Las Vegas grew to love the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels back in the day when a national championship was just a dream.
You couldn’t go anywhere in this country without someone talking about the Rebels. Likewise, I couldn’t go anywhere this past year — especially to places that knew hockey — without people talking about the Golden Knights. When I was in Washington, D.C., last week the hotel was flying two flags at the front door. One was for the Capitals and the other — hanging with equal prominence — was for the Golden Knights.
When the game was over and the fate of the Stanley Cup was sealed, what impressed me most is that the fans didn’t file out. They stayed at their seats in T-Mobile Arena. Perhaps it was because they had never seen a Stanley Cup presentation or perhaps they just wanted to show their immense gratitude for the team that had captured our hearts and imagination. It was probably both — and more.
What it showed to the world, though, was a city that has grown into its own as a place where professional sports are welcome, appreciated and supported. And when the Golden Knights stayed on the ice to recognize the fans in attendance, to thank them for believing that miracles really can happen, they sealed the deal.
It took Washington 44 years to finally win a Stanley Cup, so we shouldn’t begrudge them their well-earned victory. Neither can we dismiss the unbelievable run at the Cup that the Golden Knights made in just their first season. It was truly breathtaking.
Bill Foley, together with the Maloof family, led the effort to bring major-league hockey to Las Vegas, and they were joined by the thousands of fans who bought season tickets in advance of a season they could never have imagined. They found a home at T-Mobile and set records that may never be broken. And, along the way, they gave us all a reason to come together to root for something good. Something fun. Something that could help turn tragedy into something — else.
Las Vegas has its very own hockey team. And, one day soon, it will have its very own place on the Stanley Cup.
Thanks, Golden Knights, for the memories.
Brian Greenspun is editor, publisher and owner of the Sun.