These are uncertain times for Las Vegas hockey fans.
The ECHL Wranglers have gone on hiatus for the 2014-15 season. There are rumors the NHL is coming to town. Meanwhile, construction on the MGM-AEG arena project behind Monte Carlo and New York-New York quietly purrs along with an anticipated opening of spring 2016.
But for those who live for being at a game in person, tonight is your night. The Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings meet the Colorado Avalanche at the MGM Grand Garden in the annual Frozen Fury preseason game, the only opportunity to watch pro hockey in Las Vegas this season. The sold-out game starts at 7 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports West (Cox Channel 49).
So where exactly does the sport stand in Las Vegas as it pertains to the future?
The Wranglers plan to be back for the 2015-16 season, according to team president Billy Johnson. He remains vague on where the team would play but insists the club will return next season.
“Things are moving along slowly,” Johnson said. “But everything is pointing to a very positive outcome. We decided to take our time, and we hope to have something to announce after the holidays.”
Johnson said the possibility of the NHL putting a team in Las Vegas hasn’t deterred the Wranglers.
“We’ve heard the NHL rumors for 11 years,” he said. “There’s nothing we’ve heard that would scare us away anytime soon.”
The NHL remains noncommittal on its intentions for Las Vegas. It quickly squashed a published report last month out of Vancouver that claimed the league’s placing of a franchise in Las Vegas was a done deal. Attempts to get NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly to update the league’s stance on Las Vegas were unsuccessful.
As for the MGM-AEG arena, work continues unabated, and an MGM spokesman said everything remains on track for the spring 2016 opening. The arena will seat 18,000 for hockey.
“With the financing secured the other day, everything continues to move forward,” the spokesman said. “We don’t anticipate any delays in our projected opening.”
The MGM also confirmed that neither the hotel nor AEG has entered into a lease agreement with any ownership group for hockey or basketball.
“It’s probably a bit premature for anything like that, but at this point, we do not have any agreements signed for an anchor tenant,” the spokesman said.
The Kings have indicated they will continue to include Las Vegas in their preseason plans. The Frozen Fury series, which dates to 1997, has proved to be wildly popular with both teams’ fans.
Patrick Roy, the NHL’s Coach of the Year in 2014, took the Avalanche from 16 wins, 39 points and last place in the Central Division in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season to 52 wins, 112 points and the Central title in 2014. The Avs lost to Minnesota in the playoffs, with four of seven games going to overtime, including Game 7, a 5-4 Wild victory.
The Avalanche are 0-5-2 and have scored just eight goals, the fewest in the NHL. The Kings are 5-0-1, having beaten Colorado 2-1 Thursday in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.
FROZEN FURY XVI
WHAT: NHL preseason
WHO: Colorado Avalanche vs. Los Angeles Kings
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: MGM Grand Garden
TV: Fox Sports West (49)
TICKETS: Sold out