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NHL 04/19 02:00 - [30] ΑΝΑ Ντακς v VGS Γκόλντεν Νάιτς [12] L 4-1
NHL 04/17 02:00 - [31] ΣΧΙ Μπλακχοκς v VGS Γκόλντεν Νάιτς [13] W 1-3
NHL 04/14 19:30 - [8] Κολ Άβαλανς v VGS Γκόλντεν Νάιτς [14] W 3-4
NHL 04/13 02:00 - [10] ΜΙΝ Γουάιλντ v VGS Γκόλντεν Νάιτς [14] W 2-7
NHL 04/11 00:30 - [14] VGS Γκόλντεν Νάιτς v ΕΝΜ Όιλερς [10] L 1-5

Wikipedia - Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are a professional ice hockey team based in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The Golden Knights compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. Founded in 2017 as an expansion team, the team is the first major sports franchise to represent Las Vegas. The franchise is owned by Black Knight Sports and Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley and the Maloof family. Their home games are played at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada.

One of the few expansion franchises to experience immediate success, the Golden Knights qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in their first four seasons and reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season. Their 13 playoff wins en route to the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals are the most for a team during their inaugural postseason run. In 2023, the club returned to the Stanley Cup Finals and won their first Stanley Cup championship, defeating the Florida Panthers in five games.


Background and establishment

The NHL has had a presence in Las Vegas since 1991; that year, the city hosted the first outdoor game between two NHL teams – a preseason exhibition between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers outside Caesars Palace. The Kings would subsequently organize "Frozen Fury" – a series of annual preseason games in Las Vegas against the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL Awards ceremonies have been held in Las Vegas since 2009. In 2009, the media speculated about a plan involving Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Nevada.

Rumors of a Las Vegas expansion team surfaced again in August 2014, pointing to a new indoor arena on the Strip (built as a joint venture between Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Kings, and MGM Resorts International) as the potential home arena, although these rumors were denied by the league. In November 2014, an unconfirmed report stated that the league had selected billionaire businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof family (former owners of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings, and founders of the Palms Casino Resort) to lead the ownership group for a Las Vegas expansion team. In December 2014, the NHL's board of governors decided to allow Foley to hold a season ticket drive to gauge interest in a Las Vegas team, though league commissioner Gary Bettman also asked the media not to "make more out of this than it is". The season ticket drive began in February 2015, with interested parties placing ten percent deposits for the 2016–17 season. The drive drew 5,000 deposits in its first day and a half, and reached its goal of 10,000 deposits by April 2015.

In June 2015, the league officially opened the window for prospective owners to bid on expansion teams. By this point, Foley had secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits. Two expansion applications were submitted: Foley's application for a Las Vegas team, and a bid from Quebecor to revive the Quebec Nordiques at a new arena in Quebec City. Both Las Vegas and Quebec were invited to move into Phase II of the league expansion bid in August 2015, which involved providing additional details about the Las Vegas market to the league. Later in the same month, both bids proceeded to Phase III, which involved a review of ownership financials.

At the league owners' meeting on June 22, 2016, in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas expansion bid was approved by a unanimous vote, with play to begin in the 2017–18 NHL season. The team became the first major professional sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas, and the first NHL expansion team since 2000. Foley committed to pay the league's $500 million expansion fee and began the process of hiring the team's principal staff and determining its official identity. Foley announced that former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee would be the franchise's first general manager. On November 22, 2016, the name was revealed as the Vegas Golden Knights.

Start of operations and the inaugural season (2017–2018)

On March 1, 2017, the team completed its expansion fee payments and filings, making it eligible to formally begin operations such as free agent acquisition, and participation in league meetings. Five days later, the Golden Knights made their first personnel move by signing Reid Duke to a three-year entry-level contract.

The team announced inaugural head coach Gerard Gallant on April 13, 2017. Over the next two months, the Golden Knights developed their farm system, announcing affiliations with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.

The team participated in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on June 21, 2017, selecting an available player from all 30 teams in the NHL. The draft picks were announced at T-Mobile Arena during the NHL Awards ceremony. Some notable selections included goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins and winger James Neal from the Nashville Predators. At the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Cody Glass was the first player selected by the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights played their first game on October 6 against the Dallas Stars with Neal scoring the franchise's first two goals en route to their first victory.

The team's inaugural home game at T-Mobile Arena was played on October 10, 2017, hosting the Arizona Coyotes as the second game of a home-and-home series. In the aftermath of the October 1 mass shooting, the pre-game ceremonies honored the victims of the attack, and the team issued an appeal for donations to its charitable arm. With their 5–2 win, the Golden Knights increased their unbeaten streak to start the season to 3–0, an NHL record for an expansion team. The Golden Knights are the first team in NHL history to start their inaugural season winning eight of their first nine games. During their tenth game, goaltender Oscar Dansk was injured becoming the third Golden Knights' goaltender to be injured during the season after losing starters Fleury and the recently acquired Malcolm Subban, forcing the team to start a fourth goaltender in 11 games with Maxime Lagace.

Fifteen games into the season, Vadim Shipachyov became the first player to retire from the NHL as a Golden Knight when he decided to return to the Kontinental Hockey League. In December, the Golden Knights set another NHL expansion team record of six straight wins, a record they previously missed when they lost their tenth game of the season, and established a new NHL record with eight straight wins. On February 1, 2018, the Golden Knights set the expansion team record for wins in a debut season with 34 wins after only 50 games, and then on February 21, 2018, set a record for most points by an expansion team in the inaugural season with 84. Clinching a berth for the 2018 playoffs on March 26, the Golden Knights became the first team since the Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers in the 1979–80 season to make the playoffs in their inaugural season in the league. On March 31, the Golden Knights clinched the Pacific Division title, becoming the first true expansion team in the four major sports to win its division in its inaugural season (not counting all-expansion divisions, as was the case in the 1967–68 season). Vegas' inaugural season was widely considered the most successful of any North American expansion team, with much attention given to the breakout seasons of their expansion draft selections, dubbed the "Golden Misfits."

On April 11, the franchise won its first playoff game in a 1–0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the first game of the series. Six days later on April 17, the franchise earned their first playoff series win against the Kings, winning the fourth game by a 1–0 score, which also became their first playoff series sweep. The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to sweep their first playoff series in their inaugural season. On May 6, 2018, the Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks four-games-to-two, becoming the third team in NHL history to win multiple playoff series in their inaugural season, and advanced to the Western Conference finals. On May 20, Vegas defeated the Winnipeg Jets to win the Western Conference finals in five games, becoming the third NHL team to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in its inaugural season, after the Toronto Arenas in 1918 and the St. Louis Blues in 1968. The Golden Knights were defeated in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Washington Capitals in five games; despite this loss, the team won 13 postseason games that year, breaking the record for the most wins by an expansion team in their first playoff appearance.

Continued contention and first Stanley Cup championship (2018–present)

Fleury, Max Pacioretty, and Colin Miller during a game against the Washington Capitals in October 2018.

Prior to the 2018–19 season, the Golden Knights acquired winger Max Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadiens and signed free-agent center Paul Stastny, filling the roster holes left by the free-agency departures of James Neal and David Perron. Additionally, Vegas acquired future captain Mark Stone from the Ottawa Senators at the trade deadline, subsequently signing him to an eight-year extension. Despite dropping to 93 standings points from the prior season's 109, the Golden Knights returned to the playoffs as the third seed in the Pacific Division. They ultimately suffered their first-ever first-round elimination, losing to the San Jose Sharks in seven games after leading the series 3 games to 1. Game seven was particularly notable; after taking a 3–0 lead into the third period, Cody Eakin delivered a cross-check to Sharks captain Joe Pavelski, resulting in a controversial 5-minute major penalty call that saw the Sharks score four goals and take a 4–3 lead. The Sharks would eventually win the game, after a late game-tying goal by Jonathan Marchessault for Vegas followed by Barclay Goodrow's series winner in overtime.

In May 2019, Vegas modified their front-office staff, with the promotions of George McPhee from general manager to president of hockey operations and assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon to general manager. During the remainder of the off-season and 2019–20 season, the Golden Knights' roster experienced considerable turnover. In June, original Golden Knights Erik Haula and Colin Miller were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres, respectively, with recently-signed KHL standout Nikita Gusev also sent to the New Jersey Devils. The team additionally acquired center Chandler Stephenson from the Washington Capitals in early December 2019. After an up-and-down start resulting in a 24–19–6 record and capped by a four-game losing streak, the team fired head coach Gallant, replacing him with recently-fired former Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer on January 15, 2020.

During the following month in the lead-up to the trade deadline, Vegas further acquired defenseman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings, forward Nick Cousins from Montreal, and goaltender Robin Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as trading original Golden Knights Cody Eakin and Malcolm Subban to the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL regular season was suspended on March 12, 2020, and officially concluded on May 26; Vegas, holding the 3rd-best points percentage in the Western Conference, automatically qualified for the restructured playoffs, playing in a round-robin to determine the top four seeds in the Western playoff bracket. After sweeping the round-robin round over the Dallas Stars, St. Louis Blues, and Colorado Avalanche, Vegas earned the first seed, proceeding to defeat Chicago in the first round in five games. In the second round, Vegas defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games, despite once again having previously led the series 3–1. Their playoff run would end in the Western Conference Finals, however, as the Golden Knights lost to Dallas in five games.

Prior to the shortened 2020–21 season, Mark Stone was named the first captain in franchise history. Additionally, alternate captain and team leader Deryk Engelland retired, stepping into a front-office role with the team. The Golden Knights further overhauled the roster in the off-season, notably signing defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year contract, as well as trading Paul Stastny to Winnipeg and original Golden Knight Nate Schmidt to Vancouver. The shortened schedule saw a temporary realignment where teams only played against their own division in the regular season, with Vegas being placed in a new eight-team West Division. The Golden Knights ultimately finished second in both the division and league; despite being tied in points with the Colorado Avalanche, the Avalanche had five more regulation wins than Vegas. In first round of the playoffs, Vegas was forced to a game seven for the third consecutive year after leading 3–1, but defeated the Minnesota Wild thanks in part to a hat trick from trade-deadline acquisition Mattias Janmark.

In the second round, the Golden Knights defeated the Avalanche in six games despite initially going down 2–0; however, Vegas' playoff run would again end one round short of the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Golden Knights were then upset by the Montreal Canadiens in six games in the Stanley Cup Semifinals. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was named the winner of the Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender at season's end, with he and Lehner also sharing a William M. Jennings Trophy win for allowing the fewest goals against of any team.

The 2021 off-season began with a swap of former first-round picks, as Vegas acquired Nolan Patrick from the Philadelphia Flyers as part of a three-team trade that sent Cody Glass to the Nashville Predators. Vegas also acquired forward Brett Howden from the New York Rangers, later sending Ryan Reaves to the Rangers in a separate trade. Most controversially, Fleury was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for minor-league forward Mikael Hakkarainen due to salary-cap constraints. Vegas later traded for Ottawa Senators forward Evgenii Dadonov, as well as signing Laurent Brossoit to back up Robin Lehner. Approximately one month after the start of the 2021–22 season, Vegas acquired star center Jack Eichel from the Buffalo Sabres, in exchange for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and two draft picks. During the course of the season, the Golden Knights suffered a rash of injuries across the roster, with a total of 478 man-games lost; owing to this, Ben Hutton, Michael Amadio, Adam Brooks, and Derrick Pouliot were signed or claimed off waivers for depth, while rookies such as Jake Leschyshyn, Jonas Rondbjerg, and Logan Thompson received significant playing time. The trade deadline also witnessed a voided trade, as an attempt to send Dadonov to the Anaheim Ducks fell through due to non-compliance with his no-trade clause. Due in part to the injuries, as well as lackluster play, the Golden Knights ultimately missed the playoffs for the first time in team history, finishing three points behind the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference.

2022–23: Stanley Cup champions

During the 2022 off-season, Vegas fired head coach DeBoer, replacing him with former Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy one month later.

Besides the hiring of Cassidy, the Golden Knights experienced comparatively few changes during the off-season; most notably, Mattias Janmark left in free agency, while Max Pacioretty and Dylan Coghlan were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Evgenii Dadonov was traded to the Montreal Canadiens. The team also signed veteran forward Phil Kessel to a one-year contract. Change did occur in the goaltender's net, however; with starting goaltender Robin Lehner ruled out for the season due to hip surgery, and backup Laurent Brossoit set to miss time due to surgery of his own, the team turned to rookie Logan Thompson as starter. Additionally, the Golden Knights acquired Adin Hill from the San Jose Sharks to serve as Thompson's backup.

The Golden Knights began the 2022–23 season leading the Pacific Division, losing just two games during the month of October, and holding a 17–6–1 record at the end of November. However, the team slowed down afterwards, posting a combined 12–12–3 record through December and January, including a 1–5–2 slump in the eight games prior to the All-Star break. The Golden Knights recovered after the break, however; despite a variety of injuries sidelining Thompson, Hill, and a returning Brossoit for varying periods, the Golden Knights went on a tear through the final three months of the season, finishing out 22–4–5. In addition, the team acquired forwards Ivan Barbashev and Teddy Blueger at the trade deadline for scoring depth, as well as longtime Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick to address the multitude of goaltender injuries. During this period, the Golden Knights also became the first team to win four consecutive games with four different starting goaltenders, as rookie Jiri Patera became the fifth goaltender to start for Vegas during the season. After clinching a playoff berth on March 30, 2023, Vegas defeated the Seattle Kraken in their final regular season game on April 13, narrowly beating out the Edmonton Oilers for both the Pacific Division championship and first seed in the Western Conference.

The Golden Knights with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House following their Stanley Cup victory in 2023.

In the playoffs, the Golden Knights faced off against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round, in a rematch of the 2018 Western Conference Final; after a 5–1 loss in game 1, the Golden Knights won four straight to win the series in five games. Proceeding to the second round, Vegas defeated the division rival Oilers in six games, despite an injury to Brossoit in game 3 necessitating Hill taking over as goaltender. The Western Conference Final saw a rematch of the 2020 series, as the Golden Knights faced the Dallas Stars once again; avenging their prior loss, Vegas won the series and their second Western Conference championship in six games, despite Dallas forcing two additional games after Vegas led the series 3–0. The Golden Knights ultimately faced the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup Finals. Vegas won the Finals in five games, including a dominant 9–3 victory in game 5, to win their first Stanley Cup championship, as well as Las Vegas' first championship in any of the "big 4" North American sports leagues. Jonathan Marchessault, who led the team in playoff goals, would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player during the playoffs. Additionally, the Golden Knights fulfilled the prediction of owner Bill Foley, who had previously stated the franchise's goals were "playoffs in three, cup in six," with the 2022–23 season being the franchise's sixth. The Knights became the youngest team to win the Stanley Cup since the NHL's first major expansion in 1967, beating the previous record set by the Philadelphia Flyers, who won the Cup in 1974, their seventh season.