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Beginner’s Luck

By John King, 05/02/18, 12:15PM CDT


One man’s struggle to love the completely lovable Las Vegas Knights.

Good Luck on That Ace!

Sin City Samson!

I should love the Las Vegas Knights. Period. An entire team constructed out of the league’s outcasts like misfit toys all crammed into one big toy box. It’s like Australia, only an NHL franchise. The white gloves. The Sin-City Samson “Wild Bill” Karlsson’s fabulous follicles. Neon-clad drummers banging on snares in the stands at T-Mobile Arena. And, dare I say it, the prospect of a Stanley Cup parade right down the Las Vegas Strip? 

That time when hockey ops asked for robot drummers.

What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I want this? A few months ago, I concluded you could determine if a person was young and full of hope or getting older and sour based solely on his or her review of Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance. If you liked it and you thought he was a great entertainer—congratulations, your glass is half full! If you found yourself like me, mumbling, “He’s no Prince or Bruno Mars” or joking snidely, “When the first thing a Super Bowl halftime performance inspires you to do is Google ‘HOW OLD IS JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE?’ it can’t be good!” Uh-oh, looks like your glass has sadly reached half empty. But to be fair, “Gaga jumped from the rafters. Drones. She had drones!”

Your overall happiness is directly proportional to how you felt about J.T.’s Super Bowl performance.

So, yes, full disclosure—I may be getting older and increasingly bitter at my tender 44 years of age. It would make complete and total sense for me to embrace the Las Vegas Knights and all they represent. After all, my NHL-spouse, the Minnesota Wild, were dispatched by the Winnipeg Jets in five games, so I should be totally comfortable adopting a new girlfriend team for the rest of the playoffs. But for some reason I can’t do it, so let’s dissect what might be getting in the way.

Not a bad motto for a hockey team.

Because, really, what’s not to love? If the Las Vegas Knights manage to take this ragtag bunch of puck pariahs to the Stanley Cup Championship, not only will it make an amazing ESPN 30 For 30 someday, it might just be the greatest sports story of the decade. I should get in on this. What’s stopping me?  They’re fast. They have the most likable goalie on the planet—you’d have to be when your nickname is “Flower” and you play in the desert. If you count the giant chip on each player’s shoulder, everyone on the entire Knights roster is playing the playoffs with an upper body injury. And is there anything more Vegas, more American actually, than a “Chip and a Chair” mentality and an against-all-odds story in the best hockey tournament in the world?

Hey, wasn’t he on our team?!

Oh, but wait, there’s more. We have the Minnesota connection to get excited about (because let’s admit we Minnesotans love the Minnesota angle), with Wild castoffs Alex Tuch and Eric Haula kicking ass and taking names. Not to mention Saint Cloud Cathedral and former Gopher Nate Schmidt anchoring the blue line. And did I mention the Knights’ jerseys are really cool looking? And last I checked, you could still buy yourself a Knights’ jersey with STONER on the back because injured Clayton remains on the roster.

Admit it. White gloves are cooler.

All of those reasons to get on the Knights’ bandwagon, and I’m still not rooting for Las Vegas. Why? I guess I don’t want them to win the Cup because, for starters, Minnesota has never won a Stanley Cup. In a universe where Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and Carolina already have a Stanley Cup on their mantel, I don’t need Las Vegas to win one in their first year of existence. Not to mention they’d be winning a Stanley Cup before Saint Louis, Buffalo, Winnipeg, or their current opponents, San Jose. Hell, the Nashville Predators haven’t won the Stanley Cup, and they’re basically Las Vegas South. But at least they’ve put in almost 20 years of hard time. Washington and Alex Ovechkin have never won a Cup either, and “Ovie” may be the only thing more Vegas than Las Vegas itself.

Flower power!

Well, there you have it. I’m bitter and grumpy and think Justin Timberlake should act his age. And, as compelling as the Las Vegas Knights’ story may be, I just can’t get on board. At the risk of leaving my Stanley Cup half empty this playoff season, I’m rooting against the Knights, hoping their beginner’s luck will end sometime soon. 

Coming Soon

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