Golden Knights need not apologize for winning big in 1st season

Updated May 26, 2018 - 7:41 pm

So here is one popular theory going around, flawed and preposterous as it is: That should the Golden Knights finish this magical expansion journey by beating Washington in the Stanley Cup Final, should Vegas conclude a remarkable season with the most historic of accomplishments, it might not be a good thing for the franchise and its fan base.

Do you know who usually suggests a team has to lose before learning how to appreciate winning?

Someone who lost.

Whichever side between the Knights and Capitals emerges hoisting the Stanley Cup — Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Monday at T-Mobile Arena — the idea that Vegas and what has swelled to an amazing level of local support isn’t deserving of such immediate success and would discover it impossible to accept and react to inevitable future struggles is absurd.

Too Much, Too Soon?

That is, well, Too Funny.

“I don’t want to swear, but I don’t care at all what people say about us (making the final),” Knights forward David Perron said. “We’re all going to appreciate this. Look around our room — you have guys in their 30s who before now had never been past the second round of the playoffs.

“I don’t worry about what anyone thinks. We’re very fortunate to be in this situation, and yet we played our hearts out this entire year to get here. I don’t think we stole anything from anybody. Show me one person who said we would make the playoffs last July. There isn’t one. We’re past it. We’re excited to be here and again show we belong.”

Think of it this way: It’s like getting home from In-N-Out and realizing they mistakenly gave you an extra double-double.

You certainly don’t argue the fact or blame it on the chain having opened too many stores and there being new expansion rules about employees moving product at a faster rate.

And you never apologize for winning.

If you’re this close to earning a championship, be it in your first season or a franchise that has hungered for such a chance decade after decade, you do everything in your power to be the last one skating.

Nothing is guaranteed

George McPhee is the Knights general manager who will be part of his third Stanley Cup Final … and first in 20 years.

Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal are the only Vegas players to have experienced this moment.

This is hardly a league and salary cap built for dynasties to exist very long anymore, if at all, instead one adamantly secure in its desire for competitive balance.

You count on nothing as one season turns to the next.

“(Making the final) just doesn’t happen for you very often,” Neal said. “It’s such a great opportunity, so you have to take full advantage of it. Don’t wait for a second opportunity — enjoy it now and win.”

You worry about next season — and any challenges or wavering support that might be created should the product dip in the standings and no longer be the talk of the NHL — next season.

You react to practices suddenly not being packed to capacity when it happens.

Fans are fans, and to even begin forecasting how most might react in the coming years depending on how Vegas plays is an exercise built on an impossible premise.

You want to climb inside the heads of those folks?

Freud would have sprung a leak studying many who live and die with the Knights, and that’s just among media.

The truth is, depending on who comes and goes based on whatever moves McPhee might make in the offseason, Vegas could be an even better team next season and not come close to reaching this stage.

It might never return.

Nobody knows for sure.

Toronto made the Stanley Cup Final 50 years ago and hasn’t been back.

Carolina has qualified for the playoffs just once since winning the Cup in 2006.

Too Much, Too Soon?

When you’re four games from winning it all, there’s no such thing.

“We’re here, we’re confident, we feel good,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “Yeah, sometimes it takes teams awhile to get here, but when you’re here, you have to enjoy it and make the most of it.

“I believe in karma, and we have a lot of good guys in the room that a lot of teams didn’t want. So that plays a big part in this and makes it that much more fun to do this.”

Never apologize for winning enough to make a final, and never believe you have to lose first to appreciate how rare it really is. And if your fans can’t understand it, that’s on them.

More Golden Knights: Follow Golden Knights coverage 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.

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