Las Vegas’ love affair with Golden Knights formed by perfect storm

Updated January 21, 2018 - 12:53 am

When it formed on the big screen for George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg to confront, a tropical tempest absorbed a hurricane and eventually reached its peak as a powerful cyclone.

When it formed on and off ice for the Golden Knights and their fan base, an inexplicable moment of tragedy and grief was followed by an astonishing level of joy and success.

The lesson: A perfect storm isn’t always created by identical elements.

Books have been written and countless parts of the globe researched in hopes of discovering the foremost cause for a fan’s impassioned attachment to a certain team, but often it can’t be adequately explained.

The love affair between Las Vegas and the Knights can be.

In the most powerful of ironies, at what should have been a celebratory moment, the town’s first major league professional sports franchise began its inaugural season engulfed in the dark shadows of the mass shooting of Oct. 1, and how effortlessly the team stepped forward to embrace and help all those affected produced an instant bond.

“Right from the beginning, every guy in this room wanted to win for the city,” Knights defenseman and Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland said. “From texts we still get from people around the city, what we’ve been able to do has taken their minds off other things and allowed them to heal. We fed off that from the get-go. The passion and excitement we’ve seen is unbelievable.”

He also knows this: Winning might not be everything, but it’s darn close, and the Knights enter their game at Carolina on Sunday as the Western Conference’s top team.

It’s the main reason an estimated 10,000 flocked to a downtown FanFest recently, why T-Mobile Arena has become the most exciting of NHL venues in which to watch a game, why the stands at City National Arena for morning practices are routinely packed, why the facility’s adjoining MacKenzie River Pizza is seated to capacity on game night, whether Vegas is at home or on the road.

It’s why pictures of folks dressed in Knights gear and standing on a subway platform in New York go viral.

A Knight of pizza and beer

“The only thing I can compare it to is Runnin’ Rebel basketball back in the day, this crazy an environment, this level of fanaticism,” said 36-year-old Las Vegas native Charles Javier. “It has helped recapture a level of pride for this town. I’m not sure if there would be this kind of response had the Oct. 1 shooting not occurred or the team wasn’t winning. It took both things. But watching this team own this community is like nothing you could have imagined.”

He spoke Thursday from a table at MacKenzie River, where he and friends Jesse Johnston and Charlotte Wolfe come to watch the Knights, who on this particular evening beat NHL-leading Tampa Bay 4-1.

The grill and pub is an extension of the Montana-based Glacier Restaurant Group, owned by, yes, Knights owner Bill Foley. He brought his pizza and wings and beer to Las Vegas, too.

The pub offers views of both practice rinks at City National, is decorated with Knights imagery and murals, and has a seating capacity of 315.

They’ve pushed the limit on that number often.

“I don’t think anyone had any idea what to expect,” said Jason Anderson, general manager of the restaurant. “Back in August, we thought there could be very few here watching games or we could be full. But the community wants a place to watch this team, and this has become kind of the center hub to do it. Once people are here, they are here. Once the game starts, they’re not moving. It’s a good problem to have.”

Things are on a first-come, first-served basis, and folks wearing Knights jerseys can be seen staking their claims to tables a good 90 minutes or so before the puck drops on several TVs throughout the pub.

At this point, no reservations are taken.

“If we did that, after the first wave of them, we could have a two- to three-hour wait as the game is being played,” Anderson said.

Clooney and Wahlberg faced a pretty sizable wave in their perfect storm.

This one is different.

No one saw it coming, a love affair between a town and a team, formed through the ironic marriage of sadness and success.

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