hockey heartbreak, year 2 in review

It’s hard to believe we’ve made it through two full seasons of Vegas Golden Knights hockey. Time, hats and tears have flown, yet somehow the stretch between now and the end of September seems like an eternity. Perhaps the thought of making it through the looming Vegas summer heat contributes to this time of struggle.

But we’re here today to discuss, for the last time I promise, the season that was the sophomore year of the Golden Knights. Cue Fall Out Boy’s “Sophomore Slump Or Comeback of The Year” because a. this song and album were awesome and b. I would call this season a sophomore slump.

Clearly, it wasn’t a “bad” season, but it did feel weird. We could chalk it up to the horrendously unfair suspension of Nate Schmidt for 20 games due to a banned substance in his drug test. We could say that it was an awful way to kick off the season and put us on this trajectory. Now remember, the amount of this banned substance was so small that experts said it would be physically impossible to purposely consume it. Come on.

I do feel like the team experienced some growing pains. Losing some players, gaining others, injuries and the fact that the miracle first season was a thing of the past. No longer was this team the misfits of the league. Oh no, when you make it to  the Stanley Cup Finals as a first year team you quickly lose the expansion team stigma.

And the harsh reality is…it was never going to be miracle season round two. Which sucks because last season was awesome (until it wasn’t). The team experienced losing streaks and missing players all season – the “adversity” all the commentators and fans of other teams kept saying was missing. Well, don’t you worry, we found it. Can everyone finally stop saying that the Golden Knights aren’t a real team and their fans don’t know anything or what it’s like to lose? Are we finally done being “bandwagon fans”? *Woosah I’m calm*

I care about this team…a lot. I’m glad they came to town and I’m so impressed they have built a rapport within the community. Regardless of any external nonsense, I’m thrilled that nearly every game sells out. A product in demand will continue to be sold, which means there are a lot of Stanley Cup win opportunities to come. These are the reasons I get so fired up, because I care. I’m essentially Jimmy Fallon in “Fever Pitch”.

While the regular season is great, the post season push is always more fun to talk about. The energy, the rivalries and the story lines make everything so much better. Gathering with friends and strangers at the bars, outside the arena or even in the arena to watch our team battle to the end makes me so happy. It’s the best feeling of camaraderie – to gather in support of something bigger than yourself.

We’re still not over how it ended, I’m not sure if we’ll ever be. But as previously stated (HERE), this is the last time I will publicly discuss the bullshit call (#NotAMajor). And this is the last hockey-related blog until the end of September/beginning of October.

Obviously our team should have killed that five minute “major” penalty. Obviously. That’s their job and they should have done better. But when such an aggressive and incorrect call happens, of course it’s going to change the momentum of the game. I remember watching Game 7 and thinking “we’re doing it, we’re going to make it to the next round.” Then, in a matter of seconds, I clearly felt the shift in energy and in that moment I knew, that game was going in a significantly different direction.

After it ended, I went off on Instagram and Twitter. And that felt good, but also bad because it’s the Internet and nothing goes away. But in that moment I had to let my world know how wronged I felt. But we started to move on and get over it as best we could in the days that followed. Only to be stopped in our tracks by a new piece of information. The NHL called our owner and GM to apologize for the incorrect call. A call that changed the course of the series, the playoffs, the history books and the future of the league.

The NHL called to apologize for the mistake. And if that didn’t twist the knife in further, then I don’t know if you really love the Golden Knights like you claim you do. We’re sitting here with this new info, imagining what could have been. We could have been playing Colorado and prepping for future watch parties. It hurts. And it makes you wonder if it’s worth it.

I would wager to say that it so totally is. It’s worth it because this is a part of the VGK story and will only make our eventual Stanley Cup win that much sweeter. It keeps the fire going and the passion there. The motivation and the idea that we’re not done yet. It renews faith in the team that, they will be back with a vengeance.

Two things come out of our Round 1 exit:

1 – We officially have a rival. No question about it.

2 – I will always have a reason to talk shit on the San Jose Sharks, but only when appropriate. Only when we’re playing them during the regular season and especially during the playoffs. You know we’ll be meeting again soon.

Overall, the season was good and so fun. Not as great or as exciting as Season 1, but I don’t think any season ever will be. I can tell you I am so. damn. grateful. to have been apart of the first ever season of the Vegas Golden Knights. Truly so many fond memories that will forever be ingrained in my heart. It’s something I cannot wait to tell my kids about and I hope they’ll find the same passion in sports that I have. And in the correct teams. Because in my house we are not Yankees fans. Any other team, we can discuss but only if necessary.

As for next season, I have a few things to predict and look forward to. I’m definitely excited to see the new, third jersey and all of the other new merch that will come. I’m anxious to see who will stay on the team and who will get traded away. And I’m more than ready to see the schedule so I can start planning the rest of my life.

When it comes to predictions, I only have one for sure: Cup in 3. 

#GoKnightsGo

Author: Jess

Las Vegas local / writer, creator, festival goer, explorer, marketer, promoter, special event & experience curator

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