The Kats! Bureau is T-Mobile Arena, where we are celebrating our historic civic moment on ice. The NHL Awards Show and NHL Expansion Draft is playing out, and not long ago we heard from the sport’s fabled No. 99.
Let’s fire the biscuit in the basket …
The Great One
Wayne Gretzky, a star among stars at any NHL celebration, says he would have been at T-Mobile Arena even if he weren’t asked to present the Hart Trophy for the league’s MVP.
“It’s such an honor to be part of this whole celebration, and I told (NHL commissioner) Mr. (Gary) Bettman, ‘The silly thing is, I was going to go to all these events anyway,’ ” Gretzky said just after taking his red (or, more precisely, magenta) carpet walk. “You don’t have to make me an ambassador. Everything I have in my life is because of the National Hockey League.”
Standing in some blistering heat at Toshiba Square outside T-Mobile, Gretzky repeated what NHL officials and players (past and present) have said throughout the week about Las Vegas being a hockey town.
“This city has a great hockey foundation and we’re really excited about hockey coming to Las Vegas,” Gretzky said. “(Las Vegas Knights General Manager) George McPhee has done a tremendous job putting the team together. They are going to surprise a lot of people this year. As Nashville showed, if you finish in the top eight, anything can happen.”
The Predators qualified with the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference and reached the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Nashville is also known as “NashVegas,” so we’ll start that rivalry now.
A hypnotic face off
Headlining hypnotist Marc Savard, who has headlined his “Comedy Hypnosis” show at V Theater at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood for a decade, is a serious NHL devotee. I understand he even owns “pads.”
Savard has been a fan of the Edmonton Oilers since he was a child, having grown up in tiny Grimshaw, Alberta, about five hours northwest of Edmonton. Topping Savard’s bucket-list is to see the Oilers play in every NHL arena. He’s been to 30 so far, counting those that have since closed.
Remaining on the Savard master list: Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, Verizon Center in Washington, Amalie Arena in Tampa, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit (opening in September) and, of course, T-Mobile.
Savard will get the chance this season, as a member of the Golden Knights’ Founding 50 (or, more realistically, about 100) original season-ticket holders. The star hypnotist is so closely aligned with the league he performed at Gretzky’s retirement party in Edmonton – in 1999, of course.
On Tuesday, Savard welcomed one of the league’s rising stars, Connor McDavid of the Oilers, to his show on Tuesday. The 20-year-old McDavid is the league’s leading scorer, and Wednesday won the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award, given to the league’s most outstanding player as voted by the NHL Players Association.
Noting that McDavid was just age 2 when Gretzky retired, Savard said, “We are now seeing hockey fans in the West who were born into the sport, in their 20s, after Wayne Gretzky had joined the L.A. Kings and revived the sport in this region. We have all these Southern California-born hockey fans. I love it.”
Note from the other team
Raiders owner Mark Davis sent a note to the Golden Knights’ front office, which was summarily posted on the NHL team’s Twitter page. Davis wrote that the Raiders look forward to “working alongside one another in the community, and helping to bring the passion and excitement of professional sports to Southern Nevada. Just win!!” But where is the baby? He left out the baby.
So this happened …
Just a bit ago, I ducked into a restroom on the arena’s lower level. As I opened the door to leave, I ran into — actually, physically collided with — the Stanley Cup. It was being carried toward the arena by a gentleman wearing white gloves, which fortunately he did not drop.