Welcome aboard, Vegas. Have fun. Enjoy. See you soon.
It’s obvious that Gary Bettman is adamant about having two 16-team conferences, which is ideal for balance and playoffs. So we might as well get a pisser road trip city that can finally join the ranks of clearly inferior burgs in having a major league team in town. Las Vegas has a brand new arena built for hockey that’s raring to go. It’s in a sweet location just behind the New York New York so you can just walk to it if you’re staying nearby or risk your life in a Vegas cab if it’s too far to hoof it. The arena holds 20,000 people and is said to blow away the MGM’s arena across the street (i.e. a half-hour away).
With an abundance of Northeast transplants, there are more hockey fans in the desert than you’d probably expect. The team had already sold 13,000 season ticket accounts before the official announcement yesterday and reports said that several hundred were ordered within minutes of the news. That’s already about 5,000 more than the Carolina Hurricanes, currently the NHL’s Team Most Likely To Move To A New City. Then add in the tourist/visitor factor. Shows are as popular as ever in Vegas and being able to offer the NHL is a pretty big fucking deal now. Tickets will become currency for hotels, concierges, comps, etc. There’s always a shitload of conventions in town that will have a new entertainment option in addition to strip joints, $80 steaks on the company card, and holing up in the hotel room with a plate full of coke.
And there was this quote via Puck Daddy.
On Wednesday, Foley noted that he has big ambitions for a franchise and that includes how the team will be presented moving forward.
“My goal is to make it an international brand so the people who come from China, or they come from Europe so they walk away and are wearing our jersey and wearing our hats and our t-shirts and our gym bags,” Foley said. “I want this to be an international brand and support the NHL in its international endeavors.”
Though the NHL is still archaic in many areas, they realized that the whole ‘teams are more prone to be on the take in Vegas’ spiel is a bigger crock of shit than the Circus Circus buffet. This isn’t the fucking ’50s, guy. Sin City takes orders from one group—the fucking share holders. And since they started calling the shots, instead of the much more customer-oriented ‘independent businessmen’ before them that gamblers preferred, the place has gone downhill is some regards (like, say, futures odds in every goddamn casino—see Tweet below). Either way, none of them are gonna be muscling in on a bunch of hockey players to get them throw a goddamn game and good on Bettman and Co. for realizing that before the NBA, MLB, and NFL. (It’s actually impressive how the NBA, thanks to their powerful media chums, was able to make Tim Donaghy the only fall guy and get cronies to play along to basically pretend that a friggin’ NBA ref essentially shaving fucking points never happened. Point being malfeasance can happen anywhere. Like it did in the NBA. When the story got buried.)
The Black Knights was the early front-runner to be the team’s name because of owner Bill Foley’s connection to West Point but even he acknowledged it might not be the right fit. And it’s not. Black Outs would be better, and more appropriate, than Black Knights. At least Foley has a multitude of options to choose from. The Las Vegas Holes has a nice ring…
Whatever they decide to go with, I just hope it doesn’t suck. Personally, I’d go with some bad-ass desert wildlife. Las Vegas Gila Monsters or some shit. Because Las Vegas Wise Guys won’t fly. Regardless, I’ll be there the season after next to take in my first Bruins game from the desert stopover for GIs.
A few more buds for your Thursday bowl…
*Milton lad and nephew of the legendary PY Keith Yandle got paid. Again. This time is was the Florida Panthers who gave the offensively-inclined D-man a shitload of loot—7 years and $44.45 million to be exact—after trading for his rights from the soon-to-bottom-out Rangers. Yandle will turn 37 just after the deal expires. Thanks to this deal and his previous one, Yandle’s career earnings will be north of $75M (after taxes, agents, lawyers, and assorted BS, he’ll likely see less than half of it). Good for him. Get paid.
*Fellow defenseman Alex Goligoski, whose rights were traded from Dallas to Arizona, got a 5-year/$27.375M deal from the Coyotes.
*Though nothing is guaranteed when a team gives up a late-round pick for exclusive negotiating rights for a short period of time, Arizona and Florida both took the risk and it proved beneficial for them. Buffalo is hoping the same holds for them after trading for the rights to the coveted Jimmy Vesey though Vesey made it clear he’ll be testing UFA. And why wouldn’t he if he’s this close?
*Milan Lucic will also be testing the waters of free agency as he and the cap-strained Kings couldn’t come to a deal for the burly winger who is about to get paid. Again. Possibly by the same guy who overpaid him in Boston. Because Uncle Bob says that Edmonton will be kicking the tires HARD on Lucic. Of course, the Oilers already have their own glut of talented forwards that they have to make decisions on. If they’re gonna make a play for Looch, that most likely means another forward will be moved to make room for Lucic, in addition to whoever they move to make room for a D-man.
*Who the hell knows what the Bruins are gonna do this weekend? I’ve come to expect only the unexpected with this front office. But this team sure feels like it could use a major roster shake-up seeing as they’re not gonna can the coach. I just hope they’re not the laughingstock of draft weekend. Again.
*Get a load of the Leafs trying to sue Snoop. Get the fuck outta here, that’s not even close.
*As good as the playoffs are on TV, the NHL Awards show is equally bad. It’s better off observed via Twitter. The league’s annual Vegas train wreck last night doled out major hardware to Kopitar (Selke and Byng), Doughty (Norris), Kane (Lindsay and Hart), Holtby (Vezina), Panarin (Calder), and Trotz (Adams).
*I appeared on ESPN NH Radio to talk Bruins and the new Vegas team with Pete Sheppard and Brad Johnson yesterday. Take a listen.