The NHL is back this week, baby! To be sure, it is a poorly calculated gamble to begin a column with the words, “The NHL is back this week, baby!” As a rule, if you’re looking to clear a room, you start talking about either the NHL or the law of diminished marginal utility.
But Couch Slouch is still bedazzled, bewitched, beguiled, bewildered and beflummoxed* by the groundbreaking road to glory last season of the Vegas Golden Knights, which took the first-year expansion team to the Stanley Cup finals.
(* Note to editors: “Beflummoxed” is not a mistake; it’s a combination of befuddled and flummoxed. Please leave it. I’ll never get into Pulitzer consideration, so I’m trying to get into Webster’s.)
Yet as wonderful of a sports story as the Golden Knights’ success became, what fascinated me further was the overwhelming support the team got from Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights averaged 18,042 fans per home game.
They played to 103.9 percent capacity at T-Mobile Arena.
(I’ve never understood this business of “over 100 percent capacity.” If capacity is defined as “the maximum amount that something can contain” – this is why airlines bump passengers, because they have oversold flights – then how can you exceed the maximum that something can contain? Maybe when a team plays to 103.9 percent capacity, that takes into account pregnant women in the building.)
Did the Golden Knights’ season or their support shock me more?
Believe it or not, it was the support.
In fact, if I were asked one year ago today if the NHL had a real chance to draw big crowds in Las Vegas, my answer would’ve been no.
I would’ve written that Sin City needs the NHL like Vatican City needs a tattoo parlor.
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. Given a choice between a burlesque show and a Golden Knights-Blue Jackets game, I believe most red-blooded, steak-eating American male tourists would choose the strip tease before the slap shot.
(By the way, as it turns out, about three-quarters of Golden Knights crowds are locals. I guess all of them already have seen Blue Man Group.)
Let’s play Las Vegas word association. You say “ice,” I say “cocktail.” You say “back check,” I say “massage.” You say “Zamboni,” I say “Zumanity.”
Full disclosure: I am not a hockey afiocionado, so briefly contemplate that bias as I list Thirteen Things I’d Rather Do in Las Vegas Before Going to a Hockey Game:
1. Bet on a hockey game.
2. Play blackjack and win.
3. Play blackjack and lose.
4. Get married and divorced in an Elvis-themed chapel.
5. Drive into the Mojave Desert and see where all the bodies are buried.
7. Stand in front of the exotic fish tank at the Mirage.
8. Look for Howard Hughes.
9. Go to the unlikely, 24-hour Oyster Bar at Palace Station for its otherworldly pan roast.
10. Walk to Pahrump.
11. Penn or Teller.
12. Pick up some spares – that town has the best bowling centers in America.
13. Spit in the nearby Hoover Dam.
Hockey in Las Vegas? I don’t think so.
Indeed, just 365 short days ago, I would’ve told readers that elephants-on-skates is your only chance to attract a crowd in Las Vegas to an ice arena.
That’s absolutely, positively what I would’ve written.
I guess I would’ve been wrong.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Clay Matthews tackled Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith from the front, causing each of them to fall backwards and Matthews to land on top of each of them. Instead of “roughing the passer,” shouldn’t he more accurately have been penalized for “refusing to ignore the laws of gravity”? (AJ Carle; Oak Hill, Va.)
A. Actually, the laws of gravity were a sticking point in the last NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement; the holdup was Roger Goodell’s belief that the Earth is flat.
Q. A good investigative journalist always seeks answers to the questions of who, what, where, when and why. In regards to this Baltimore Orioles season, I just need to know why? (Steve Owings; Spokane)
A. The only chance to obtain that answer would be to conduct a séance in order to contact either Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Archimedes, Sun Tzu, Plato, Thomas Aquinas or Earl Weaver.
Q. Do you like beer? Do you still like beer? (Tim Franks; Fort Worth, Tex.)
A. I suspect the Washington Nationals will have a “Brett Kavanaugh Bobblehead Night” next season – first 65 women in attendance who sign an affidavit attesting to Brett Kavanaugh’s character get a bobblehead and a free beer!
Q. Will ESPN will be increasing its coverage of the NHL because hockey is the only major sport with a “left wing” position? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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