OK, I admit that we hockey fans in Las Vegas couldn’t have even imagined that in the Golden Knights’ inaugural year they would make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Such success is unheard of in any professional league.
But they did, setting new records along the way. Led by the decorated veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury who won three Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins (before they decided to let him go in the expansion draft), our guys could do no wrong. This rag-tag band of other teams’ castaways gelled immediately and became one of the best expansion teams in the history of sports.
Even last year, after a somewhat tumultuous start to the season, the Knights bounced back and made the post season again. The outcome was not as spectacular as the previous season; however, they did manage to get into the playoffs. Sadly, they were eliminated in the first round by the San Jose Sharks (who they beat in last year’s playoffs) despite leading the series 3-1 early on. The Knights would then go on to blow leads and lose the next three, ensuring their season ended right then and there.
Now, we are into year 3, and even after making some fantastic roster acquisitions (Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Cody Glass, Paul Stastny, Nick Holden, Valentin Zykov, and Nicholas Roy, to name a few), extending contracts of other valuable players like William Karlsson, and trading away other lesser-performing or overly expensive players, the Knights find themselves in 5th place in their division having lost the past five games in a row at the time of the writing of this article.
This begs the question, “Where are our Knights, and who are these imposters?” Frankly, it’s getting old listening to Head Coach Gerard Gallant and each player saying after every loss that “We played well but need to work on a few minor details.” I would hardly call too many penalties, poor puck control, and horrible defense “minor details.” If something isn’t working, then change it. Mix up the lines a bit, send some non-performers to the minors and call up others who may be hot at the moment. At this point, maintaining the status quo won’t give the players the kick in the butt they need to improve.
It’s time to win already.
Am I going to abandon them? Of course not, I am very faithful to my teams even in their perpetual mediocrity (ahem San Diego, er Los Angeles Chargers.) It would take a lot for me to abandon a team for whom I’ve been rooting and supporting for 30 years. It would take something truly horrible and catastrophic like, oh, I don’t know, a team’s crappy owner failing to extend the new stadium vote to county residents and not just city ones to enable the team to remain in the city in which it’s played for 50 years, or something like that.
But I digress.
My point is that I am Golden Knights fan. I support them wholeheartedly. I just wish the players and coaches would remember what winning felt like and endeavor to regain their former supremacy on the ice.