Golden Knights are up and running

The Las Vegas Golden Knights finally have a team, thanks to last week’s expansion draft.

I realize teams need to be made up of players and those players don’t just magically appear, particularly for expansion organizations, but there has to be a slightly less humiliating way of selecting a roster. “Alright, well, we’ve got a list of players the rest of the teams in the league don’t want enough to protect. Let’s see if we can make a go of this.”

I wonder if it is worse for the guys who weren’t protected, but not picked up in the draft.

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“Hey, sorry we didn’t care if you left our team but we’re happy to have you back.” Actually no. It’s much worse for the guys who have to play in Vegas. At least the other guys get to go back and not have to play hockey in the desert… unless they play for Phoenix. It’s still better than Vegas but not by much.

I read through the list of the players now destined for training camp and the only name I recognized was Marc-Andre Fleury. That must be a bit of a gut punch for a guy who just won a Stanley Cup. “Hey you are a big part of our championship team… but not big enough for us to care about you leaving.” Fleury will lend a certain amount of needed leadership to the fledgling club but I doubt it will be enough for any more than 15 wins all year. That’s right, I am predicting the very bottom of the basement for the Knights and I don’t see that changing for some time. I doubt they will make the play-offs for at least 10 years, if the club lasts that long.

I know very little about Las Vegas having never been there and having no desire to visit because I don’t like gambling and I hate the heat… but… I do know Vegas loves a winner. If you are a winner, you are king in Sin City, a virtual vacation all on your own. However, if you are a loser, Vegas has no respect for you whatsoever. With little remorse, that town chews up losers and spits them back out to return home with less money and no dignity.

I think the players for the Knights are about to experience a level of fan indifference the likes of which most of them haven’t seen since their pre-major junior days. I think the initial hype will last until just after Christmas of the team’s first season and the bottom is going to fall out and it will fall quickly. There is too much money to be made in Vegas and the home of a losing hockey team is going to just take up too much space. When things go bad, investors will want out quick and there will be no fan drives or last ditch efforts to find a local buyer. They team will wither and move to another city, hopefully a Canadian one.

Of course, that won’t happen. Bettman won’t allow us silly Canucks to befit from his hubris, oh no. The Golden Knights will likely move to another American hockey hotbed, like Tuscaloosa or an abandoned Wal-Mart parking lot in South Dakota before the NHL president sends another team north.

Anyway, I am not sure why this team bothers me so much but here we are.

I’m done now.

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Antigonish native Matt Draper has been a photographer, reporter and columnist for The Reporter since 2003.