What can be said about the Vegas Golden Knights that hasn’t been said already? How about this: Their instant success is becoming just a bit annoying. They are the ramen noodles of the National Hockey League.
One short year ago, the team didn’t even exist except as a concept. They had a management team in place but precious little else. They did not, for example, have the one thing somewhat essential to a hockey team: players.
That soon changed – boiling water was added.
Over the early summer of 2017, they were allowed to select players from the other 30 teams who were deemed expendable by their former clubs. They got the stray dogs and castoffs of the NHL. These misfits were brought in out of the harsh rain of rejection to a new home in the welcoming desert of Nevada.
Yes, they were stirred and ready to eat.
What happened next was unprecedented. As an expansion team, they’ve shattered every record of success in their inaugural season. They finished atop the Pacific Division and are now one of only four teams left vying for the Stanley Cup.
By any measure of hockey logic, what’s happening should never have happened. There was no way to predict it and even less a way to explain it.
Now, the narrative being put forth is that this ragtag band is supposed to inspire and lift us all to giddy heights of joy because of their unexpected success. They’re the living embodiment of every sports movie ever made.
The only thing is that they haven’t gone through the requisite hardship that allow for that mid-movie montage of picking themselves up by their jockstraps and finding the inner strength to carry on. No, it’s been nothing but smooth sailing; it’s been nothing but sunshine and roses. Or, this being Las Vegas, it’s been blackjacks and jackpots from the get-go.
It’s not a sports movie at all. Rocky was a sports movie and Sylvester Stallone knew that to make us love him, he had to show Rocky Balboa suffering. He lived in squalor, he drank raw eggs and his own trainer called him “a bum.”
The Golden Knights are no Rocky; the Golden Knights are James Bond. Every button they push is the right one. Any jeopardy is only a tease and nothing but a prelude to ultimate achievement and victory. Each of their adversaries falls away into a puddle of melting ice while they order another martini and have a showgirl fall into their waiting arms.
They’re being sold as lovable losers but they’re anything but. Lovable losers have to go through the hard knocks of life, have doors slammed in their faces and be told “don’t call us, we’ll call you!”
Instead, what the Golden Knights are experiencing – along with their delirious and new-to-the-party fan base – is the hockey equivalent of that person who’s walking from the restaurant to the bathroom in a Vegas hotel and decides to put a single quarter into the slot machine.
You know what happens next. They win a gazillion dollars while the rest of us poor schmucks continue losing our shirts without so much as a complimentary shrimp cocktail to ease our pain.
There’s no reason to like them; there’s only reason to envy them. Yes, envy them with all the seething resentment that fans of Canadian teams can muster.
How can the Johnny-come-latelies from the desert understand the Leafs, who have waited more than 50 years for a Stanley Cup? How can they begin to feel the pain of the Canadiens, of the Oilers and of the Flames? Those franchises have all waited more than a quarter century since winning it all – to say nothing of Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa, who have never won.
Yes, it’s us who have become the lovable losers. So, with that in mind, I think there’s only one rallying cry the hockey gods would in all of us command. It’s short, simple and sweet:
GO JETS GO!
Troy Media columnist Gavin MacFadyen is a Canada-raised, U.S.-based writer. Blending insight and wit, he brings a unique perspective to the issues of the day.
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