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 and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at 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.

Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Eakin Scores Winning Goal During Final Road Trip Game
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights final game of the road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers
Would the NFL be accepted abroad?
Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney takes to the streets of London, England, ahead of the Oakland Raiders facing the Seattle Seahawks to find out if the NFL is accepted, if the game is understood and what its fan base is like outside of the United States.
Golden Edge: Phil Kessel Has Hat Trick in Win Over Knights
The Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Las Vegas Golden Knights 4-2. Ben Gotz and David Schoen report from Pittsburgh.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose First Stanley Cup Rematch
The Golden Knights lose 5-2 against the Washington Capitals and fall to 1-3 on the season. David Schoen and Ben Gotz report from Washington.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — October 9, 2018
Adam Hill is joined by Ben Gotz via skype from Washington, D.C. to answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Gallant on Washington Capitals rematch
Golden Knights Coach Gerard Gallant plays down the connection between Wednesday's game against the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup Final results last season.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall to Sabres 4-2
The Sabres defeat the Golden Knights 4-2 with 3 goals in the second period. Ben Gotz and David Schoen report from Buffalo.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Wild In Shootout
Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Knights comeback win against the Minnesota Wild. The Knights won 2-1 in a shootout against the Minnesota Wild. (October 7, 2018)
Golden Edge: Knights Fall In Season Opener
Elaine Wilson, Adam Hill, Ben Gotz and David Schoen go over the Golden Knights 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener. (Videographer: Heidi Fang, Edited By: Nathan Asselin)
Golden Knights React To Season Opener Loss
Golden Knights react to their 5-2 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Gold Carpet Before Golden Knights Season Opener
John Katsilometes is on the gold carpet before the Golden Knights season opener.
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Last Practice Before Season Opener
Adam Hill and David Schoen at City National Arena during the Golden Knights' morning skate and media day before the opener Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Media Day: Gerard Gallant and George McPhee Presser
Head coach Gerard Gallant and GM George McPhee talk about Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin, Nate Schmidt, and the start of season number two for the franchise.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — October 2, 2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Kings 2-0
Adam Hill and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena after the Knights beat the Kings 2-0.
Golden Edge: Shea Theodore Returns to Practice
Adam Hill, Ben Gotz, and David Schoen are at the Golden Knight's practice where Shea Thedore is suited back up for the first time this season.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 25, 2018
Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose 5-3, but re-sign Shea Theodore
Bryan Salmond is in studio while Ben Gotz, Adam Hill and David Schoen report from T-Mobile Arena on the Knights preseason game vs. the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Edge: Knights Lose 5-3 but Re-Sign Shea Theodore
Bryan Salmond is in studio and Ben Gotz, Adam Hill, and David Schoen report from T-Mobile arena on the Knights preseason game vs the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Edge: Knights Rally To Win During Shootout
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights shootout win against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge: Knights Win Third Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen go over the Knights 7-2 win over the L.A. Kings.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Golden Edge: Vegas Fans Show their Love at Fan Fest
Bryan Salmond is on the red carpet at the downtown Las Vegas Events Center as the 2018-2019 Golden Knights show up for Fan Fest.
Golden Edge: Knights Back From Colorado
Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz talk about Knights preseason training camp and how Max Pacioretty is fitting in with the Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 17, 2018
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Win First Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, David Schoen, Ben Gotz and Adam hill recap the Golden Knights first preseason game win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Golden Edge: First Practice
Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss the first day of practice for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Presser Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty speaks about his first impressions coming to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights' fans about recent roster changes.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rookies Faceoff Against The Sharks Good
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond breaks down the 5-4 loss the Golden Knights rookies had against the San Jose Sharks.
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
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.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like