I thought the jokes in 2018 were funny, albeit obvious. The Vegas Golden Knights, inaugural season, in the Stanley Cup Finals. Lost in five, poor long-suffering desert hockey fans, can never catch a break. How will they recover?
Asking for a friend: how many disappointments does a fanbase need to experience before they are allowed to feel those feelings?
The Golden Knights are crossing off historical franchise to-do’s at a dizzying pace. Most of the sports world knows what happened in year one. Check. Hockey fans know what happened in year two against San Jose, one of the dumbest ways to lose a postseason series with a rival. Check.
Asking for a friend: does the Vegas Golden Knights fan base get to feel regular disappointed feelings like everyone else yet?
Now Vegas is almost like a normal sports team. The Sharks series last year is our punching-the-wall-out-of-frustration experience. The Canucks series this year was our heart-attack experience. The Dallas Stars series that wrapped last night was our “huh, what the hell just happened” experience. We’ve lost in the first round, conference finals, and Stanley Cup finals in our first three seasons.
Asking for a friend: how many different ways does a franchise need to lose a high-stakes playoff series before their followers get to be sad?
Since I was born in New Orleans I had to find hockey myself. My heart was shaped like a football at birth and eventually grew into a basketball. I played baseball as a kid because honestly who didn’t. It wasn’t until a chance trip to an NHL game as a teenager that the puck seed was planted. I was visiting family for Easter and bored out of my damn mind. My dad said he would take me wherever I wanted to get out of the house. There was a hockey game downtown. We went and it hooked me. The team was the Dallas Stars.
While my hockey fandom faintly traces back to that night, it wasn’t until much later that I tried to officially adopt a team to follow. Nothing stuck because everything felt forced. When hockey in Vegas was starting to become a reality I jumped on the opportunity to grow with a franchise. I’ll never forget being in Vegas for my annual Thanksgiving weekend trip and being so inspired by the season ticket drive expansion teams do to prove themselves. I took the rest of my daily budget for that trip and put it in the pockets of Bill Foley. I always wanted a hockey team, I always wanted to be on the ground floor for a new franchise. This was it. This was my New Year’s Resolution in 2017. I ate granola bars for the rest of the trip.
I was there every step of the way. The league making it official, the fans in Quebec City being upset. The expansion draft, the placeholder logo reveal. I even covered the first game in franchise history for my first ever paid sports writing job.
My personal and professional life has changed in major ways since the Golden Knights existed. That has absolutely nothing to do with Vegas or hockey but it’s hard not to notice. It’s hard not to tie life events to sports when things are such a mess and you’re looking for anything to ground you. I know exactly what my mental health situation was around the time the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2010. I remember the specific emotional texture of the Pelicans barely squeezing into the playoffs in 2015. My brain is guided by pattern, effortlessly mapping my world with the sports moments I care about. So yeah, I live in New Orleans and I feel irrationally close to a hockey team in Las Vegas.
Vegas was eliminated last night and I’m sad about it. Everyone in the world is looking for something to brighten their mood. For anything to lighten the load of horrible shit happening on the news, in their Twitter feed, outside their home. As dumb as it sounds, losing myself in a hockey game for a couple of hours every other night was a godsend.
Asking for a friend: is it okay to be sad about the Golden Knights loss?