The Vegas Golden Knights haven’t been around long but they’re off to an impressive start with an inaugural season that hasn’t slowed down during the Stanley Cup Final.
While playing the Washington Capitals, Tomas Nosek scored a tiebreaking goal during the third season, securing an amazing 6-4 victory. The Golden Knights overcame a third-period deficit to win the opener of the matchup between two franchises both seeking their first Stanley Cup titles.
The Knights are now just three wins away from one of the most improbable championships in recent team sports history in the United States.
The Knights’ playoff pregame shows have displayed Vegas showmanship at its best with their first Final game beginning with a trebuchet, light show, and archers. Their surprise success story has also shown that Vegas is about more than casinos and the Strip. As the first expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup finals during its first year, the Knights have already built an insanely loyal fan base.
The Golden Knights weren’t taken very seriously when it was announced this season that Las Vegas would get a hockey team. As they continued to win, residents began to catch the fever. Many Vegas residents are now saying that the Golden Knights are helping to bring everyone together. The team embraces fan-made traditions like the Victory Flamingo when plastic flamingos are thrown on the ice after a win by selling Victory Flamingo-themed stuffed animals and socks. The team’s motto — “Vegas Born” — has also unified fans.
Over their first year, average attendance at the 17,500-seat T-Mobile Arena has surpassed 100% capacity and the Golden Knights are already sold out for next year. The team sells digital tickets through StubHub and AXS Flash Seats to give season ticket holders flexibility and they have made a deal with the SoCal-Nevada Toyota Dealership as their first sponsor for cross-promotion.
Fan support is everywhere you look in Las Vegas. A Caesars Palace elevator was emblazoned with a giant hockey puck with the team’s “Vegas Born” slogan and one of the famous statues outside the Colosseum bears a Knights flag. Even the Statue of Liberty outside New York-New York was decked out in a Knights jersey.
Bars, restaurants, and casinos across Las Vegas are offering drink and food specials featuring a gold and knight theme. About 10,000 fans packed Fremont Street for the first Vegas Golden Knights Fan Fest in January hoping to catch a glimpse of the new pro hockey team in Vegas.
The Golden Knights opener was also a rallying moment for the city as it occurred just after the tragic shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival. The team’s community relations department quickly donated $200,000 to the victim’s fund and the opening night ceremony was dedicated to honoring the memory of the victims and an appeal for charitable donations. The Golden Knights were introduced to Las Vegas for the first time as they partnered with firefighters, police, and medical professionals who walked them onto the ice. They secured a 5-2 win that night against the Arizona Coyotes, increasing their unbeaten streak to begin the season at 3-0, an NHL expansion team record. They also became the first NHL team to start their inaugural season winning 8 of their first 9 games. It was an emotional night and showed how much the city needed the Knights and something to rally behind.
The Golden Knights team is owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, which is owned by Bill Foley and the Maloof family. The team name is an homage to the Black Knights of the U.S. Military Academy, Foley’s alma mater. Foley originally wanted to name the team the “Black Knights” but faced opposition from federal officials. His second choice, “Vegas Knights,” was also shot down because the London Knights own the “Knights” name in Canada. “Golden” was ultimately chosen because Foley says gold is the top precious metal and Nevada is the top producer of gold in the U.S.
When the Las Vegas expansion bid was announced in 2016, the team became the first major pro sports franchise to be based on Vegas and the first NHL expansion team in 16 years.