Cinderella is for fairy tales, but Golden Knights are for real

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The narrative many want you to believe: That a season-long journey to this capital of a Canadian province is the result of some magical phenomenon, a sort of folklore genre that usually takes the form of a short story and features entities such as dragons and elves and fairies and giants and talking animals and, yes, sometimes a Knight or two.

The truth: While advancing to a Western Conference Final of the Stanley Cup playoffs as an expansion team checks all boxes related to an achievement of historical measures, the Golden Knights are no fairy tale.

There is nothing make-believe about how Vegas has landed in this place of 20th-century architecture and numerous art galleries and warehouses converted to shops and restaurants, the Knights set to open a best-of-seven series against Winnipeg on Saturday at Bell MTS Place.

Cinderella is a romantic fantasy, and yet there were no characters named McPhee or Gallant or Fleury or Neal — although William Karlsson and his hair would be a shoe-in for Prince Charming.

“We never approached them as an expansion team, certainly not now,” Jets winger and captain Blake Wheeler said Friday. “Yeah, it’s unique because it’s the first year of the team. But these are all established NHL players that have quite a bit more playoff experience than our team. Nobody took them for granted. Nobody treated them like an off night.

“This is no fluke. This isn’t Cinderella. They’re for real.”

A major part of the story that will forever be etched into the hearts and minds of what has become a fanatical base of Golden Knights followers is how the franchise reacted in the days and weeks following the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival on 1 October, where 58 were killed and more than 700 injured.

That’s when a faithful bond between Southern Nevada and the team was born, when a majority of players and staff that had no ties to Las Vegas before opening an inaugural season suddenly became a vehicle by which the town could begin its long and difficult road to recovery.

Building a winner

The hockey part always has been a far more dispassionate exercise: Vegas is the most successful first-year franchise in five decades because of, in part, the most generous expansion draft rules in history that allowed more players to be made available, salary cap issues that made it difficult for teams when choosing who to protect and Knights general manager George McPhee and his staff being knowledgeable and savvy enough to take full advantage.

That, and a room full of players who responded with career seasons and a head coach in Gerard Gallant whose deft and decisive guidance proved masterful.

There wasn’t an evil stepmother in sight and no one ever reported a carriage turning into a pumpkin outside T-Mobile Arena, although I don’t want give the Chance character any ideas.

“The (expansion draft rules) had an impact,” McPhee said. “It gave us something to work with. It gave this team an opportunity to be good. It was also a lot of work.

“It was important to the league and to Las Vegas and (team owner) Bill Foley that this franchise had a chance to work, that people coming to games could enjoy the product and become real fans and grow some deep roots in this marketplace. I don’t think you can point to any one thing for (the team’s success). Everyone has done their part.”

Here’s the thing: It’s not as if sports aren’t full of Cinderella stories down through the annals of Miracles on Ice and other colossal upsets, the idea in which competitors achieve far greater success than would reasonably have been expected.

And, strictly by way of preseason odds, the Knights could be categorized as such.

But once we saw what the roster was capable of delivering, it was no more a Cinderella this season than Loyola-Chicago basketball, which advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament not for some folk tale embodying myth, but because it had an experienced lineup with a veteran coach, traits that have been known to play really well in March.

No glass slippers needed

Once we saw this was more the Marc-Andre Fleury of 2009 in goal than recent years and that Columbus obviously goofed in not protecting Karlsson and that James Neal’s experience really was that important in the room and that Alex Tuch might very well be the next James Neal, any thoughts of fictional-based magic were ground up under the blades of a Zamboni.

“I think it all just came together,” said Knights forward Pierre-Édouard Bellemare. “We realized how lucky we were to be here and put in this position. We kind of rolled with the fairy tale (storylines), but even before that when the shooting happened, it just became bigger than everything else.

“I guess you can say it’s a Cinderella story because we’re a brand new team and one of four left in the playoffs and the other three don’t have our story behind them.

“But in the room, we don’t see ourselves as Cinderella or that we shouldn’t be here. This isn’t a fairy tale for us. We know we’re good.”

And to think, they made it all the way here to four wins from playing for a Stanley Cup, to the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, wearing skates and not glass slippers.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Deryk Engelland Rides With Kurt Busch
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond heads to city national arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Kurt Busch attempt to learn how to play hockey, and Deryk Engelland hop in a race car.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
Golden Edge: Floor Hockey Clinic
Bryan Salmond travels to the Paradise Recreational Center for the Las Vegas Golden Knights floor hockey clinic with special guest Golden Knights defenseman and Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Deryk Engelland.
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
Golden Knights 2018 NHL Draft Preview
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond provides a preview heading into the 2018 NHL Draft and Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee discusses how the team has prepared for it.
Golden Knights Release Schedule For 2018-19 NHL Season
Golden Knights release schedule for 2018-19 NHL season. The Golden Knights will play five of their first six games on the road. The Knights are at Washington on Oct. 10 in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and face Pittsburgh the following night. The NHL previously announced the Knights open the season at home Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 21
Golden Edge: Knights Take Home Four Awards
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the NHL awards where the Golden Knights won in four of the categories.
George McPhee On Winning General Manager Of The Year
Golden Knights General Manager George Mcphee talks about winning General Manager of the Year and the Golden Knights.
Deryk Engelland On Winning Mark Messier Award
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about winning the Mark Messier award how much impact a team can have on a community.
Gerard Gallant On Winning Jack Adams Award
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about winning the Jack Adams award at the NHL Awards.
William Karlsson On Winning The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
William Karlsson goes over the Golden Knights season and him winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 19
Golden Knights release 2018 preseason schedule
The Golden Knights will be back on the ice at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 16. The team’s 2018 NHL preseason schedule was announced Monday. Scheduled is a matchup with the L.A. Kings — Sept. 20 at Staples Center and Sept. 28 at T-Mobile. Two games against the Colorado Avalanche — Sept. 18 in Denver and Sept. 24 at T-Mobile. Two games against the San Jose Sharks — Sept. 22 at San Jose and Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. The team also announced it will hold its training camp at City National Arena beginning Sept. 13.
Golden Edge Look Ahead: What The Knights Next Season Will Look Like
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journals sports columnist Ed Graney and Adam Hill go over what to expect from the Golden Knights next season.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 14
Golden Knights fans give advice to their team
Golden Knights fans give advice to the team as they head into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals. (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final
Vegas Golden Knights fans party at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Crowd goes crazy moments before puck drop
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena goes crazy moments before the puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves becomes Golden Knights' latest unlikely hero
Ryan Reaves has become the Golden Knights latest unlikely hero. Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals. It was his first goal with the Golden Knights. It came after Reaves sat for Vegas' first nine playoff games. Now he's become a integral part of the team's forecheck. He gets his chance and he goes in there and he played great hockey. It’s not surprising.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like