The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By rob langrell
publisher 

until stanley cup is secure, nix the capitals

 


in professional sports, expansion teams tend to get beaten up like red-headed stepchildren.

remember the likes of the houston texans, tampa bay buccaneers, vancouver grizzlies, toronto raptors? what about the minnesota wild, columbus blue jackets, arizona diamondbacks and tampa bay devil rays? the only thing in common with each of their first few seasons was an abundance of losses.

true to form, when an expansion team starts play, their roster is generally full of less-talented free agents, inexperienced players or veterans that are no longer wanted and/or nearing retirement. that’s simply the nature of the beast when pro sports leagues opt to grow larger.

the nhl decided to relax its rules a bit when the league welcomed the vegas golden knights to its fraternity. last june when the knights selected their roster through an expansion draft, existing teams could protect fewer players than in past years.

with the altered rules, vegas was able to snag a guy like goaltender marc-andre fleury — arguably the most valuable player of the playoffs this year — from the pittsburgh penguins’ pool of players. mix in 43-goal scorer william karlsson and 75-point guy jonathan marchessault crashing the opponents’ nets, and you’ve got the building blocks for a pretty good season.

pretty good doesn’t easily translate to stanley cup finalist though. vegas found a way to win this season, which is saying a lot for a city that’s built its success on losers. as the saying goes, the lights in sin city don’t stay on because everyone is winning.

i lived in las vegas for nearly two decades, but before the golden knights joined the fray as the city’s first professional sports franchise. the constant banter about the nfl, nba, nhl or mlb placing a team there always hit one of two roadblocks: gambling and transients.

the gambling justification was just a lame excuse since so much money is bet on each of those sports in different locales nowadays anyway with the advent of a little thing called the internet. and the truth was further driven home with the supreme court’s ruling this month that allows states to legalize sports betting.

the transient rationalization — no, not the homeless people — was that no one really was “from” vegas so the residents would never support a “home” team. attendance at t-mobile arena averaged more than a sellout this season (103 percent) when you include standing-room only tickets that were sold for most games.

the vegas franchise has made its improbable march to the stanley cup finals against the washington capitals. the puck drops for game 1 on monday night.

my support lies with my “hometown” team — the golden knights. why not the new guy when it comes to etching the name of the 2018 champion on the cup?

and just in case you haven’t figured it out by now, i’ve intentionally disposed of all of the capitals in my column — just like the golden knights will dispose of the washington capitals in six games.

rob langrell is the publisher of the eastern new mexico news. contact him at: rlangrell@thenews.email

 

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