Seven years ago, when the NHL confirmed a club in Vegas, Gary Bettman started talking about a Stanley Cup in the desert.
Here we are in June 2023, and what do we see? We see a Stanley Cup in the Nevada desert, for the first time since the beginning of humanity, and even more.
Let’s quickly go over the reality of a Cup in the South, because that’s not a first. Brett Hull’s skating led to such a scenario in 1999 in favor of the Dallas Stars, and last I heard, the Cup has taken a tour of the Tampa, Florida area quite often over the past few seasons, including once against the Canadiens.
But what happened Tuesday night in Vegas? Well, that’s quite different.
Because by winning Game 5 of the Finals against the Florida Panthers, by a very convincing score of 9-3, the Vegas Golden Knights have achieved what no expansion team has been able to achieve since. the 1974 Spring Flyers: a Stanley Cup relatively quickly, in just six seasons, one less than the 1974 Spring Flyers, who had achieved the feat seven years after the club was admitted during the expansion of 1967.
The 2017 expansion draft rules are understood to have been made in an effort to quickly lead the Golden Knights to some form of respectability in the hockey world, especially after a US$500 million entry price to the moment of the club’s arrival in the Bettman circuit.
Nevertheless, since their birth, the Golden Knights have made the right decisions. The dice were stacked in their favour, but afterwards, the management knew how to place its bets on the right tables, and when it was necessary. One cannot speak of mere luck in this case.
Mark Stone, for example, was the big star of Tuesday’s championship night in Vegas, with a grand total of three goals in the encounter. It should be remembered here that this forward was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in February 2019, in return for two players and a draft pick. It had to be done, and Golden Knights management chose to do it.
Goaltender Adin Hill, another big star of this spring, was also obtained in a trade, without anyone making any gifts to the Vegas club. Hill, on the other hand, made 31 saves in that triumph, and while he only came into this story in the second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers, he played a starring role in of this unexpected triumph.
Jonathan Marchessault was much more anticipated, and he concluded the present series with a total of 13 goals, which earned him the Conn-Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player of the series. The native of Cap-Rouge became the first Quebecer to receive this honor since Jean-Sébastien Giguère in 2003.
So there you have it, the Golden Knights are champions, and Gary Bettman’s flair should probably be highlighted. The commissioner made people laugh at him with his grandiose ideas for a brighter future in the desert or somewhere in the palm trees, but now no one can doubt him or his vision.
And while we wait for a first champion in the country since the Canadiens of 1993, the clubs that skate in the heat chain the triumphs. This is perhaps the proof, the greatest in any case, that our hockey is changing.
The Golden Knights forward collected a point, earning at least one point for the tenth straight game in the playoffs.
The one who is supposed to be a mainstay on the Panthers blue line finished this game with a -4 differential. It’s not ideal.
This is the number of Stanley Cups in Vegas Golden Knights history. And the number of Panthers wins in their history in the Stanley Cup Finals.