Even though American Thanksgiving is in November, our neighbors to the north celebrate in October and with hockey being a Canadian pastime, this would be a good time to reflect on what we are thankful for. From having full-time hockey, George McPhee, and Twitter laughs, there are a lot of reasons to be happy and thankful this Thanksgiving.
Hockey in the Desert
Las Vegas has always had a soft spot for hockey. The Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers played an outdoor game in the Caesars Palace parking lot in 1991. The Kings and Colorado Avalanche started the Frozen Fury, playing a preseason game at the MGM Grand every year, beginning in 1997 and ending in 2017 when the Golden Knights started hosting home contests. The city has had many semi-pro teams, but never an NHL franchise to call their own.
When it was announced that Vegas was going to receive an expansion franchise, the residents rejoiced. The team started a season-ticket drive in Feb. 2015 and sold 9,000 tickets in the first month. By Sept. 2016, they had reached 16,000 season tickets, a full year before they would play their first-ever game.
In their second season, TV ratings were as high as ever. Even though the club was out in the first round of the 2018-19 playoffs, the city was still in the top 10 in TV ratings for the Stanley Cup Final. They also were third in all local markets for games on NBC and NBCSN during the regular season with a 0.98 household rating. For the NHL gambling on Las Vegas becoming a sports town, we are thankful.
Expansion Draft Steals
Former general manager George McPhee and his staff of advisors and scouts were able to put together an extraordinary team. McPhee stepped down as general manager in order to keep Kelly McCrimmon on his staff, but he still remains with the team as the President of Hockey Operations. His stamp on the team will live on forever.
He took advantage of teams that were either in a salary cap bind after handing out contracts to players who could not live up to them, or teams that had a glut of talent that they wanted to hold on to. McPhee’s plan was to help these other organizations out, but at a cost. He acquired multiple draft picks and prospects in exchange for a bad contract and a gentleman’s agreement on not selecting a specific player during the expansion draft.
After everything was said and done, the Golden Knights acquired an additional two first-round picks, five second-round selections and eight more draft choices in rounds three through six from various teams for overpaid players and “expansion draft considerations”.
A number of the players that other organizations cast off in their deals with the Golden Knights have been very successful for the club and have become a major part of their core. Marc-Andre Fleury, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and William Carrier are all players that other teams gave up in order to protect other skaters on their respective rosters. These guys came to Vegas with a chip on their shoulder and it has paid off for the Golden Knights.
With all these trades, management was able to turn multiple assets into other pieces for the team’s success. During the offseason, management was able to trade Nikita Gusev, acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the expansion draft, into future draft picks, stockpiling more assets to make future moves. The web continues to grow for some of these expansion draft trades and the return on investment continues to grow.
For the foundation McPhee and the organization built at the expansion draft, along with the ability to make the moves he did, we are thankful.
Golden Knights Twitter
Everyone loves a good laugh online. Whether it is a funny tweet or a random picture or video posted, it helps your day go by a little quicker. The social media team for the Golden Knights are some of the best in the league. Right off the bat, the team was interacting with fans and making jokes about other news around the league and other sporting events.
They also started a rivalry with their Pacific Division foe, the Kings, before they played their first game. After a long exchange online, the team called out the Kings poor cap management. It is safe to say the Golden Knights were winning battles before they started playing meaningful games.
Over the past season, their rivalry with the San Jose Sharks has intensified tremendously. With facing each other twice in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the personal rivalry between Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane, the team’s Twitter account has to be active. At the start of the 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights defeated the Sharks twice by a combined score of 9-2. Throughout the game, they were liking all of the Sharks woeful tweets.
There is no event too big or witty comment to deter this social media team. No matter the result on the ice, the team’s social media game will always be winners. For all the troll posts and laughs, we are thankful.