Crazy Days, Golden Knights

The 2018 Stanley Cup Finals will pit the Washington Capitals against the Vegas Golden Knights. If you don’t follow hockey closely, did you even know that there was a team in Las Vegas? There is, and they’re making history.

First*

The 2017-18 season is the Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season. Expansion teams are traditionally terrible—it takes a club on the playing surface and off to gel. Well, usually it does. The Golden Knights are the first time in years that an NHL expansion team made the finals in its first season. It’s never happened in the NBA, NFL, or in Major League Baseball.

Explaining That Asterisk

The only other time that a first-season team in any of the big 4 North American sports leagues was in 1968, when the St. Louis Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals and were swept by the Montreal Canadiens. However, it wasn’t much of a feat. Prior to the season, the NHL expanded from six teams to 12, and all six new teams were placed in a new division, from which four teams gained playoff spots. That means one of the new teams would necessarily head to the finals.

Welcome to Las Vegas

Some major cities with sports teams have never had a team advance to the finals. Winnipeg, for example, has never experienced the Jets playing for a Stanley Cup. So not only are the Golden Knights the first team in 50 years to advance to the playoffs in its first year of existence, it’s the first year of the first sports team to exist in the city of Las Vegas.

All bets are on

Las Vegas is of course a major center for gambling, particularly sports gambling. Before the season began, Vegas oddsmakers gave the Golden Knights extremely long odds to win the Stanley Cup, because, as stated, expansion teams are usually terrible. Some sportsbooks gave odds in the realm of 500 to 1. However, lots of Vegas residents and visitors got sentimental and placed a bet before the season began…which means bad news for the betting house if the Knights win it all. Each and every person that placed, say, $10 on the team, will be owed $5,000.