54°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Vegas Golden Knights make city ‘Vegas Proud’

I flip back this calendar and must confess, at first I didn’t take to “Vegas” as a nickname, nor Bill Foley’s reasoning that people who live here refer to the city as “Vegas.” As a 22-year Las Vegan, I didn’t see this issue as did the NHL expansion team owner.

I thought Las Vegas was the way to go, and Silver Knights as the nickname to match the state’s own moniker.

Whew, wrong there. Over time, Vegas rang true.

We suffered this event that was so unspeakably tragic that we became Vegas Strong. That’s how we were, right along with this team that was Vegas Born. All those titles fit in ways we couldn’t have imagined when the Vegas Golden Knights opened in October as the city’s first major-league team. Our team.

It all ended, finally, Thursday night. The home team’s inaugural season was finally closed out Thursday night as the Washington Capitals won Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final 4-3. The feeling in T-Mobile Arena was a mix of exhaustion, sadness, with grown-ups in Golden Knights jerseys crying and hugging. But there was also a current of gratitude, with a final roar sending the team to the locker room so the Caps could parade the Cup.

Certainly, the Vegas Golden Knights did more than reach the Stanley Cup Final, and were more than just the most successful expansion franchise ever in pro sports. Though the achievements are enough reason to celebrate this team.

But the team’s impact on the community, the way it electrified the community as a single entity, simply can’t be underestimated. I work my way around town nightly (and if you follow my social media chronicles, you understand what I’m talking about). Ever since this team took the ice, it has been the primary topic of conversation in every social event, show opening, fundraising gala, dinner party and lounge performance I have attended since last fall.

Examples abound. During the team’s second-round series against the San Jose Sharks, one friend told me, “This gives me something to talk to my neighbor about.” Another, “I have watched three Golden Knights games this year, and I really believe I can be a color commentator.”

And, when the Golden Knights were taking a break after winning the Western Conference Final over the Winnipeg Jets, a buddy told me, “My wife asked me if I’d DVR’d the game tonight. I said, ‘We’re not playing! We’ve already won the series! And she says, ‘No, no, the Lightning-Capitals game!’”

That’s serious investment in the Eastern Conference Final, which of course produced the team that finally solved the Golden Knights. And like so many fans in Vegas, this couple had never seen an NHL game in person until the team opened in October.

Figures that seemed to defy fiction are now familiar to Las Vegans. I know a lot of singers in this city, but I had never heard of Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson until he started performing the national anthem at T-Mobile in February. I thought, “Who is this?” A gondolier for seven years at the Canal Shoppes at true underdog personality who only sang the anthem for the game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 13 as a late fill-in. He then sang the anthem 14 times. In the face of superstars who took to Twitter to lobby for an anthem spot in the playoffs, Johnson sang before every postseason game.

In what is already a slice of Golden Knights lore, the team preferred its singing skipper to superstar Carrie Underwood. Vegas entertainers got a kick out of that decision, believe it.

We got to know them all: The Knight Line (by Drumbots, don’t forget). Chance the gila monster, whose familiar image might well-inspire costumed buskers in front of Bellagio Fountains by next season. The Golden Knight who was undefeated against opposing characters to open the game. Animated in-house emcees Big D and Mark Shunock tirelessly imploring us to “Make some noise!” A wave of celebrity siren crankers (Penn Jillette one night; Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top the next). Blue Man Group parading up the aisles as Cirque performers spun across the ice.

In what would be the team’s sendoff, the Gazillionaire from “Absinthe” summoned the juggling trio Water On Mars because that is how Vegas makes a scene.

The team was not all shtick, though. It’s deft-yet-powerful handling of Oct. 1 was note perfect. The rollout of the names of the 58 victims on the vast LED screen during the season opener was one of those moments where you had to remember to breathe. Thursday the place came apart once more for the final Vegas Strong hero of the Game, Clark County Undersheriff Kevin McMahill.

Vegas Strong. Vegas Born. Vegas Golden Knights. We never saw it coming, we might never experience this again, but this team made this town proud. Vegas Proud.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Fleury save poster among ‘Gold Friday’ deals from Golden Knights - Video
The Knights announced Monday information regarding “Gold Friday” at The Arsenal at City National Arena and The Armory at T-Mobile Arena on Black Friday. Fans can get their hands on a special poster of Marc-Andre Fleury’s spectacular save against the Toronto Maple Leafs last week. Only 450 copies of the poster will be available, commemorating Fleury’s 450th NHL career win.
Cosmopolitan Tree Lighting Starts the Las Vegas Holiday Season - VIDEO
With a flip of an actual switch the Cosmopolitan lit their tree to signal the start of the Las Vegas holiday season. Golden Knights favorites Marc-Andre Fleury and Max Pacioretty were on hand to help with the event and skate around the rink with fans. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights' Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny Host Street Hockey Clinic for Kids - Video
Golden Knights forwards Max Pacioretty and Paul Stastny hosted a street hockey clinic for local kids on Monday, Nov. 18 at Doc Pearson Community Center.
Golden Knights fans shut out of free doughnuts - VIDEO
Golden Knights fans drove up to Krispy Kreme stores on Monday morning, Nov. 18, 2019, but the stores were closed. Company officials said the promotion with the Golden Knights for fans with tickets to get free doughnuts with a shutout win at home will be honored through Sunday. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal @EliPagePhoto)
Golden Knights fans denied doughnuts morning after shutout - VIDEO
Golden Knights fan Todd Levings was out of luck when he tried to get his free doughnuts Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, at a Krispy Kreme store. When the Golden Knights have a shutout win at home, the doughnut chain gives a dozen free doughnuts to fans who present tickets from the game. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights Movie Premier Remembers Why the City is 'Vegas Strong' - Video
Golden Knights fans will be treated to an exclusive viewing of 'Valiant,' on Sunday, Nov. 17. The documentary highlights the Vegas Golden Knights' remarkable run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final after the team unified Las Vegas in wake of tragedy.
Golden Edge Mailbag | November 14th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Adam Hill are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Golden Knights to honor "Miracle on Ice" team
The Golden Knights will honor the 1980 USA Olympic men’s hockey team on the 40th anniversary of its “Miracle on Ice” victory against the Soviet Union next year. On Feb. 22, a public event with the 1980 team will take place at the Thomas & Mack Center that will include video of never-before-seen moments from its implausible run at Lake Placid, New York. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Alex Tuch Returns to Practice After Second Injury - Video
Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch returned to practice on Tuesday afternoon. Tuch missed the last four games due to an upper-body injury sustained in the team’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 3.
Golden Knights Know They Need to Play More Dominant Style of Hockey - Video
The Golden Knights recent road trip turned out to be an unsuccessful one, as the team went 1-3 away from home. Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch says one of the problems lately has been that his team is just trying to win games, instead of completely dominating their opponents.
Alex Tuch And Nate Schmidt Return To The Ice - Video
Alex Tuch and Nate Schmidt return to practice as the team becomes more energized after their win against the Anaheim Ducks.
Golden Knights Watch Party At Las Vegas Ballpark - Video
The Golden Knights host a watch party at the Las Vegas Ballpark where fans gathered to watch the game against the Pittsburg Penguins.
Golden Edge Mailbag | October 17th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Cassie Soto are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens invade City National Arena for competition - VIDEO
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
THE LATEST