On June 22, 2016, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Las Vegas was going to be awarded an NHL expansion team. Fast forward 15 months and here we are. Las Vegas, Nevada. Sin city. What happens here stays here. Well, for the Boston Bruins, they better hope that last part is true.
My family and I have been coming to Las Vegas since I was a kid. With relatives who live just a stone’s throw from The Strip, vacations never seemed to disappoint. My father and uncle would golf, my mother and aunt would shop, and us kids would hang out by the pool and get mesmerized by the bright lights in the city. Oh, and I was repeatedly told not to look at the cards people were handing out on the sidewalks. The older I got, the “ching-ching-ching” of the slot machines and the rowdiness at the craps tables are what got the juices flowing. However, I was still years away from the fun, but I started to fall in love with the city.
As a kid, I also fell in love with the game of hockey and my hometown team, the Boston Bruins. I grew up trying to mimic the moves of Sergei Samsonov, the intensity of Kyle McLaren, and fighting off the crippling depression of the Joe Thornton trade. Everything around me seemed to halt, and it became eat, sleep, hockey. When I got hurt, my love for the game never wavered. I probably began to follow it even more. So when it was announced in 2016 that there was going to be an NHL franchise in Las Vegas, I was thrilled. I read up on all the expansion draft rules and quickly realized it wasn’t going this to be an expansion team roster like those in the past. They were going to have the ability to compete from the get-go. However, their 4–1–0 start is a little surprising.
So, when the NHL released each teams schedule, I immediately went and checked when I was going to be making my trip across the country. October 15th might have been a little earlier than I would have chosen, but I was not complaining. Plus, I realized college football started at 9 a.m. and the NFL at 10 a.m. Bloody Mary’s at the sports book? Sign me up. In 48 hours we had our rooms booked, flights selected, and someone working on tickets to the game.
Now, let me preface this by saying, I REALLY like to gamble. Little 12-year-old me put those sounds I heard on the casino floor back in the mid-2000’s and stored them in my mind. With flying out on Friday and the game not being until Sunday afternoon, I knew I was going to need to pace myself. I did pretty well on college ball on Saturday, hit a few numbers at Roulette, and broke about even at the blackjack table. So I decided I was going to throw a few pennies on the hockey game.
Marc-Andre Fleury was going to be out and Malcolm Subban would be getting the start for the Golden Knights. As a Bruins fan and someone who had to suffer through the experiment that Malcolm Subban was, I immediately flashbacked to his two starts with the black and gold and jumped all over the Bruins -1.5, Bruins over 2.5, and total over 5.5. Now, for those keeping track at home understand that it could not have gone any worse for me. Subban stopped 21 of 22 shots, propelling the Golden Knights to a fourth win in five games, while recording his first NHL win against his former team.
As for the Bruins, flat is the only way to describe their play. It’s funny, they played as if they were on back to back nights at the end of a West Coast road trip. They had no energy behind them. Careless play led to 11 giveaways. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game. Not only were they out shot, they were also demolished in the face-off circle two to one. The return of Patrice Bergeron will help immensely in that category. Luckily for the team, they return home for a string of home games starting with Vancouver on Thursday.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon who you ask, the Bruins don’t head back to Las Vegas until next year. For anyone who has any thoughts of possibly making that trip, I cannot speak more highly of it. Everyone knows what Vegas has in store, but everything surrounding the Golden Knights and T-Mobile Arena is superb. The arena is located directly behind the New York New York hotel, just a block off Las Vegas Boulevard. Aside from the numerous bars and restaurants, the area has a carnival-like feel to it. There’s live music, food and beverage trucks, games for all ages, and the weather is absolutely beautiful. Once inside the T-Mobile Arena, it’s hard to spot a flaw. With wide hallways, foot traffic didn’t seem to get congested, concession areas didn’t seem to get busy, and there is a panoramic picture of The Strip in the upper level that stretches across the building and creates quite the backdrop. Depending upon you are up for it, we might just run into each other next year.