Golden Knights’ playoff run had all elements of a great story

Updated June 13, 2018 - 5:57 pm

So the loons from Winnipeg won’t soon be forgotten, because what says special more than tens of thousands of the nicest people you will ever meet all dressed in white and chugging beer up and down the street while cheering for their beloved hockey team?

Take away the fact their winter has a tendency to freeze the bejesus out of your every limb, and the folks from Manitoba are good eggs all around.

Fascinating best describes being among those to chronicle the playoff run of the Golden Knights, that awareness of something that holds great interest to others.

I actually feel sorry for those who will undoubtedly experience a sense of loss and desolation from the season ending, unsure of where to turn next, left with nothing but the hushed tones of sorrow while concealed under the covers of a dark room.

And that’s just some in the media.

But here’s the thing: It’s true that great stories never leave you, that you might not remember every detail or final score, every wild anecdote and bizarre Uber driver in D.C., every customs delay and bitter quote from Drew Doughty, but if it’s unpredictable and authentic and compelling and the bars remain open after deadline, memories never fade.

Well, some might depending on how late those bars remain open.

But that’s what this was for those of us who intimately followed the Knights.

A great story.

It ended with a loss to Washington in the Stanley Cup Final, the correct result given how superior the Capitals proved over the five games it took to win the franchise’s first title.

Alex Ovechkin more than deserved to skate around T-Mobile Arena holding aloft that famous trophy, and yet if you have followed social media of any form since his team clinched its championship, you realize he might never again sleep or be sober.

Ovi is making Rob Gronkowski look like an Orthodox monk.

And yet no matter the outcome, the room for Vegas never disappointed, because if you polled those in my business about which athletes are best to deal with from the four major league professional sports, hockey players would win by a landslide every time.

They would be Reagan and those from the NFL and NBA and MLB would be Mondale.

Nate Schmidt is a sportswriter’s dream. Marc-Andre Fleury is unquestionably the classiest superstar of which I have ever encountered.

Luca Sbisa is one the best quotes few know about.

Same with Cody Eakin.

Pierre-Édouard Bellemare is just a great quote. Period. Everyone with a recorder wanted Brad Hunt to play some in the postseason. You won’t find a better person.

James Neal can be salty, but is a pro’s pro.

Erik Haula is, well, just salty.

Positive press

Gerard Gallant as a head coach is a pleasant guy who does a tremendous job saying nothing, and George McPhee as general manager is usually more cautious around media than a mother of a newborn.

The first time I met McPhee, along with a Review-Journal colleague following the GM’s introductory press conference, he asked: “Which one of you is the columnist?”

So, yeah, that was really weird — and caused me to wonder whose opinion in Washington he disliked so much.

Turns out, McPhee never had to worry about how the Knights were portrayed, given how good they were. Vegas more than deserved the positive press pointed in its direction.

To that end, I understand it’s 2018 and the makeup of a press box has changed dramatically because of the immense presence of social media. You have as many unapologetic fans being credentialed nowadays as anyone.

It was no different with the Knights.

I also get that when such a story continues to grow with each passing playoff series win, as a city becomes completely and utterly engrossed with all things Knights, more and more non-sports reporters join the coverage.

Their over-the-top enthusiasm is to be expected. That part is fine.

But to see so many on the sports side of things — across all media platforms — easily and happily jump far past the line of any objectivity was just as fascinating to witness as the story itself.

It was riveting and ridiculous and absurd all at the same time.

Still, aren’t the best stories wild and improbable? Ones with a good plot and characters developed over time, names that will resonate with future generations as they learn of their impact?

This was one of those to cover.

It was different. Gripping.

But what do I know?

Hell, I picked the Kings in six.

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.

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