By: Allan Erickson
Now, usually I don’t do this. It’s very rare for me to come on a forum where I share my opinion on sports, and advise the fans of a certain sport to come together and pull for one team. However, that’s what I’m going to do today. The Vegas Golden Knights are one win away from making it to the Stanley Cup Finals, and I’ll give you 3 reasons to root for them, and the ONLY reason not to.
1- These guys were the “rejects” of 30 other NHL teams. Every single one of these players were viewed by their former management as “someone we can afford to give up to an expansion team.” How’s that working out? Well, excellent. This team plays with a chip on their shoulder, they play hard for each other every night, and they’re trying to collectively flip off every general manager that was wrong about them. They’ve already become the most successful expansion team ever, with their eyes on the Stanley Cup, why not cheer for the ultimate underdog?
2- Community Relationship is off the chart. For a team in its first year, the Golden Knights have had an enormous amount of pressure on them. Being the only sports franchise in such a lively town is a burden most of us don’t want to carry. Also, opening day was just days after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas at a Jason Aldean concert. As we’ve seen so many times before (Piazza’s walk off after 9/11, Saints winning the Super Bowl after hurricane Katrena, etc.) sports can rally a community. The difference between the aforementioned teams and this one? The Saints and Mets already had loyal, passionate fan bases. The Golden Knights put an entire city on their back with charity work and relief work for the victims, and at the time they did that, none of the community had ever seen them play a game. It’s amazing what sports can do to a city, and this team is clicking on all cylinders.
3- This could be the greatest story in sports we’ll see this year. While I have a tremendous amount of respect for Shaquem Griffin, his triumph and his story; I’d have to say that one guy defying the odds and making it isn’t quite as special as 20 rejects forced to play on a team together and being able to hoist the greatest trophy in all of sports. In all of professional sports, there has never been an underdog story like this one. There’s only one logical reason that you wouldn’t root for the Golden Knights if they were to make it to the Finals.
Here’s where you get a pass. Whoever wins the Capitals/Lightning series will represent the eastern conference. If you’re a fan of the winning team from that conference, then you can continue to pull for them. However if you’re a fan of ANY of the other THIRTY teams in the NHL, there’s no logical explanation to not cheer on this cast of players who were exposed into an expansion draft, and couldn’t have made this situation any better. It’s a team of young talent and wily veterans that enjoy playing the game of hockey, and playing together. What a sensational ride this has been, with a 3-1 series lead, it looks more and more likely to continue. And if it does, I expect a good 90% of the hockey fans to be pulling for this ultimate cinderella.
I’ll be back in a few days to preview the Stanley Cup Finals, you know who I WANT to win, but I’ll give you predictions on who wins and why, as soon as the conference finals are over.
Until then, Go Knights Go, signing off, Allan Erickson.