Golden Knights Storming Through Expansion Records

Seventeen wins into their season, the Vegas Golden Knights are looking to climb higher on one particular record list. Since the beginning of the NHL, teams have had varying success in their first seasons. Some teams win single-digit games in a season. Others win upwards of 30. One thing is for certain, since the “Original Six” era, there have only been 19 teams that have more wins in their first seasons than Vegas. They have already passed six expansion teams. The good news for the Golden Knights is that the season is not even halfway completed yet.

In typical fashion, the Detroit Red Wings, one of the “Original Six”, was the first to beat the upstart expansion team. In fact, of the “Original Six” era teams, the Chicago Blackhawks are the only team without a win against Vegas. Boston shared that position with Chicago until their rematch with the Golden Knights.

Original Six Inaugural Records

In their inaugural seasons, Original Six teams covered the spread from horrific to impressive. The Boston Bruins hold the least impressive first season record, winning only six games back in 1924. This is the worst first season record in the history of the NHL, not just the Original Six era. Toronto came close to matching the Bruins, winning only eight of its inaugural games in 1917.

Bruins - worst inaugural season
(Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.Net)

The New York Rangers hold first place of the Original Six teams with 25 first season wins during the 1926 season. Chicago had 19 to finish second on the list. Having set the bar, the New York Rangers put themselves in the record books and really haven’t looked back since. Generally speaking, all six of these teams have held prestigious positions in the NHL since their inception.

Vegas Pushes Forward

In 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights were named the newest expansion team in the NHL. Some thought that the team would struggle to find success. Others thought that the team might be good. Whatever the case, the NHL has been taken over by the team and its success. The Golden Knights have a flair for the dramatic, living up to their city’s reputation. Along the same lines, they have also lived up to that reputation with a dash of luck in some of their games.

James Neal Golden Knights
Vegas Golden Knights left wing James Neal (Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports)

Through this point in the season, the Golden Knights have won 17 games. This ties them with San Jose in first season wins. Seventeen wins are the tenth most all-time, and San Jose and Vegas are tied in 20th place all-time. Meanwhile, Vegas has already passed some prestigious company on the list. Teams like Washington (8), Toronto (8), and Boston (6) all have single digit wins in their inaugural seasons. Vegas passed these team on November 10th after earning their tenth win.

In the last month, Vegas has continued its winning ways, pushing past several current and former NHL teams. Despite losing head to head against Detroit in October, the Golden Knights passed the Red Wings and Islanders after earning 13 wins. They had previously pass Ottawa and Montreal. The next victims to be pushed down the list were the Atlanta Thrashers (14) and both the California Seals and Kansas City Scouts (15).

How High Will the Golden Knights Climb?

The Golden Knights are well on their way to the record books. They have accomplished a feat that ten other teams haven’t: winning 17 games. Next on the list for the team: beat all Original Six inaugural season records. That means earning 26 wins this season to put them one ahead of the New York Rangers (25). That will move the Golden Knights to 12th place on the list.

Las Vegas Golden Knights
Las Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal in preseason action against the Canucks. (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

However, for a team named after a precious metal and a fierce warrior, 12th place won’t be good enough. The team will look to move even higher than that. The Golden Knights want to be the best. They want to show the world that they came to stay and that what happens in Vegas occasionally also leaves Vegas when the team wins on the road. The magic number that Vegas is looking for is 34. That will put them in first place, etching their name on the NHL landscape in their first season. This will move them ahead of two teams that expanded the league in the 1990s. Anaheim and Florida hold the coveted top spot.

This also bodes well for Vegas, as the two teams at the top share a similarity with the Golden Knights. All three teams exist in geographical locations where hockey is not one of the most talked about sports. They are also in locations where hockey is not possible unless on roller blades or indoors. Cutting the season into thirds, the Golden Knights could continue their pace at 50% and get to 33 wins. It is more likely that, if they can continue their success, they will win far more than 33 games and may even make the playoffs.

Setting the Bar for Future Expansion Teams

The Golden Knights are simply setting the bar for any future expansion teams. Vegas has come out on a mission, looking to rewrite the record books as fast as possible. The team has mixed the perfect amount of talent, flair, and luck together to create the magic of this season. Heading into the final two-thirds of the season, they will look to continue that success.

The team’s Twitter account has also set the bar for future expansion teams. Knowing that the team would need fans on a nationwide scale, the social media presence is necessary. Not only that, but they need to make the team appealing, providing a fresh take on team news and updates.

These updates provide a unique look at the game, giving insight into the team’s score as well as how the fans might feel. When the team is losing, the tweets look more depressing, begging for puppies and other forms of consolation. All of this, plus the intermission poll questions, make for an engaging social media presence that future expansion teams may want to copy.