(Las Vegas) The least we can say is that it will be a different final.

First, here we are in Las Vegas, a temple of glitz and fakery, where it’s hard to know what’s real and what isn’t. For example, the Bruno Mars which is playing and performing not far from the arena seems to be the real thing. But the Prince and the Michael Jackson playing just a little further away are probably not the real ones. It can get confusing at the end.

Then there are the two teams involved, which do not exactly come from the proverbial traditional market, as we know it.

The Panthers come from Florida, the Golden Knights are the local club, the Vegas club, in a city where hockey is a spectacle, like Cirque du Soleil or the Blue Man Group.

And since it’s all about magic, one of these two teams will certainly have a magical summer, since the big winner will kiss the Stanley Cup for the first time in his life.

Those players are long gone, but Jonathan Marchessault’s eyes light up on that beautiful Friday at the arena, especially when the Golden Knights forward was talking about the Stanley Cup, he has been used to seeing people pass from hand to hand on TV since he was a child.

This time, he could see her very close. “I get chills every time I see her,” he admitted.

And now these Golden Knights are one step closer to that dream, having first tasted it in the 2018 Finals loss to the Washington Capitals.

Hockey, which seemed like a very passing fad around here, still keeps the masses racing; this season, the Golden Knights averaged 18,024 spectators, the league’s 12th average.

“I would say hockey in Vegas was definitely a home run,” defender Alec Martinez summed up.

Marchessault, who has been playing here for six years, agrees.

“It started strong, and the world really got on board right away. The fans who have been coming to see us for two days at the arena during training, it was also this group of people who came to each of our training sessions during our first season (the Golden Knights also train in front of the public in suburbs of Vegas).

“It’s fun to see that even after six years the fans are still supporting us. They are still there. That’s why Vegas is probably among the top four or five cities in the National Hockey League. »

Over the past few days, Golden Knights players have all received the same message from management: the importance of avoiding distractions, which can sometimes be overwhelming around here. For this same reason, one would have thought that a club in Vegas would be condemned to always lose, firstly because it would be impossible to have concentrated players at work in such an environment. But no. In fact, quite the opposite happened.

Also, it’s all well and good the heat and the tinsel and the shows, but Jonathan Marchessault swears that no one in this locker room is satisfied.

“What’s the point of doing all this if you don’t win?” Every year, there are 31 teams wondering how to win the Cup, and only one club wins. We’ve come a long way, but that won’t mean anything without the last win…”

At least, this final here, in a not ordinary place, reminds us that hockey can live elsewhere. Even in the desert.