We don’t get a brand-spanking new sports team every year. It’s always a little exciting, seeing what they name it, what town it’s going to, who is going to end up playing for it; but I don’t think anybody expected the Las Vegas Golden Knights, the dumbest named team in any sport, to make it this far into the NHL post-season less than a year ago. Hockey seems tough to rig. It’s hard to make the call that perhaps this is to get the team off on the right foot, making sure Las Vegas of all places gets all the curious new casual fans excited about hockey out the gate. Cinderella runs and telegraphed story lines have become a little more prominent in recent years, but I think an even more nefarious phenomenon is at work here.
In the fall, some wealthy, gambling addict maniac stockpiled numerous firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition into a high-rise Las Vegas hotel and opened fire on an audience of concertgoers, killing dozens and wounding hundreds before killing himself as police closed in. The tragedy has had a chilling effect on Vegas tourism, compounded with other attendance-related issues and difficulties adjusting the “product” to appeal to younger consumers. There’s clear motivation and incentive for Las Vegas to have something new and exciting to crow about, and little does more to foster a collective, unifying identity for a town than local sports, something Vegas has been lacking for ages and looking to add more to with the impending move of the Oakland Raiders.
Let the game do the healing, right? It sounds outlandish, but this isn’t the first correlation I’ve found with towns seemingly fighting back against the adversity of a tragedy and taking home a championship. Just last year, I watched my beloved New York Yankees fall to the Houston Astros in the ALCS after Hurricane Harvey and other storms devastated the region. Houston went on to win the World Series. The New Orleans Saints’ win in 2010 is a little suspect, considering it took years for the area to start recovering from Katrina… Perfect time for an economic jumpstart. West Germany had three World Cup wins in 36 years! The inverse to the rule here is when the nearly-new Arizona Diamondbacks beat the New York Yankees in the World Series in 2001, right after 9/11. If there was ever a year to give it to the Yankees, it was probably after 9/11.
Vegas (0-1) and the Winnipeg Jets (1-0) go at it in Game 2, tonight, at 8pm ET on NBC.