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The Vegas Golden Knights All-Hair Team

Since the NHLPA came out with their player polls from around the league I figured I’d add another category. One that I may add is vital. After polling only myself, here is this season’s Golden Knights All-Hair team.

Center: William Karlsson

There’s not much to explain. Of course Karlsson has the nicest hair on the Golden Knights. He’s a Swedish blonde, do I need to say more. My wife already says enough. Karlsson has the true definition of a hockey flow. His hair graciously flows while he glides up the ice on the way to embarrassing another goaltender. Karlsson obviously goes to a premier salon and uses high-end conditioners but like his talent, he was born with a beautiful head of hair. Bottom line is chicks dig it.

Forward: Ryan Reaves

It’s as tight as a low fade can get. Reaves must get his hair touched up daily or every other day. Short on top, lined up in front, and sometimes a carved side part. A sleek tapered cut for the NHL. Reaves has that charming badass look that the Vegas Strip has been waiting for since Mike Tyson.

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Los Knights? Bueno!

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

Long before Las Vegas got an NHL team, I suggested that it made sure to reach out to the city’s large Latino community and have a Spanish radio broadcast of the games.

Fortunately, Kerry Bubolz listened. And last year, selected home games were on ESPN Deportes (1460 AM).

This year, all the home games are being broadcast. Hopefully in the future, all games, home and away, will be broadcast, assuming it’s financially feasible.

But the announcement Monday by the team that it was expanding its social media reach to Spanish was an excellent move. Obviously, the hope is to grow the fan base and attract younger followers. Social media has proven to be the right medium to accomplish both.

I admit, my Spanish is extremely limited. I took French in high school and I would need help if I tried to conduct an interview with Marc-Andre Fleury or Pierre-Edouard Bellemare or Jonathan Marchessault in French.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the importance of what the Knights are doing by reaching out to the Latino community of Las Vegas. My question is: “What took them so long?”

Here’s a quick Q&A I conducted via email with Brian Killingsworth, the team’s chief marketing officer:

Q: Why do this now? Why not wait until next year? Better yet, why not have done it before this season?

A: “Our efforts to reach the Hispanic communities are always on-going. This was a concept that we wanted to do right in an authentic and intentional way. In order to do it right, we had to have the resources and strategy in place so we felt that now was the appropriate time.

“We are really pleased to have it launched and we are excited to continue to build on this and other initiatives the rest of this regular season, hopefully into the playoffs should we qualify, offseason and into next year. This is going to be a sustainable outreach.”

Q: How many Twitter followers are there for your English account? What is the projection for Spanish Twitter?

A: “Currently, we have just over 430,000 followers on Twitter. For @LosVGK, to corner ourselves on an actual projection is not prudent. “There is not a lot of baselines to measure this on as we are the first team in the NHL to have active accounts of this nature. We will reevaluate this as the content is produced and as we progress.”

Q: Are there plans to travel the radio guys next year or through this year’s playoffs? Or will the broadcast on ESPN Deportes remain strictly a home-only situation?

A: “This is something we will continue to evaluate. We would like to have as many games broadcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes as possible. ESPN Deportes is an important part of our broadcasting assets.”

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Betting On The Golden Knights; Bad Idea Unless You Know When To Do It

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

(All odds referenced in this article are pulled from the William Hill Sports Book. The William Hill mobile sports app is the best in the business with prop bets on every VGK game and InPlay betting on all NHL games.)

Whether you are a sports gambler or not, odds tell a great story about how a team performs under many different circumstances. They paint a picture of how a game is supposed to go and give some context about how well (or poorly) a team has played over the course of a season.

The Golden Knights have played 68 games to this point winning 37 and losing 31 as overtime/shootout losses are losses in gambling terms.

A $100 bettor (see end of article for explanation of how this works) would be down $360 if he bet on every Golden Knights game this season.

Vegas has been favored in 55 of the 68 games. That same bettor would be up $305 on the Golden Knights’ 35-20 record as favorites.

The Golden Knights are a dismal 3-10 as underdogs. Their three wins are all as minuscule dogs too, winning at Minnesota (+100), at Philadelphia (-105), and at Tampa Bay (+135). Bet all 13 and you’d be down $665. Vegas went on an eight-game losing streak as underdogs spanning almost 4 months from mid-October to early February (115 days).

However, despite a total road record of just 16-16-1 on the road the Golden Knights make bettors money when they are favored away from home. That’s happened 20 times this season and the Golden Knights are 13-7 earning a total of $345. The worst loss as a road favorite was just -155 at Los Angeles, while the Golden Knights have covered games as large as -185 (@ANA), -170 (@CHI), and -165 three times (@DET, @VAN, @OTT).

There is one other situation in which the Golden Knights pay off.

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The Vegas Junior Golden Knights Biggest Fans Are The Vegas Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

You would have thought the Olympics were on, or at least a World Juniors tournament. It was neither. Yesterday, the Vegas Golden Knights players were glued to an internet feed of the Vegas Junior Golden Knights playing their third game in the Quebec International Pee Wee Tournament.

Yeah it’s awesome. We got it online watching the game. Ryan Craig, our assistant coach’s son plays on the team. It’s good seeing those kids out there representing the Golden Knights. It’s a great tournament. It’s awesome. -Gerard Gallant

The score was 3-2 in favor of the Junior Golden Knights, with a handful of big Golden Knights players watching the game on a giant flatscreen in their locker room. Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Jon Merrill, and Malcolm Subban all watched from one end of the locker room. On the other side were Ryan Reaves, Brandon Pirri and Jonathan Marchessault reacting to every shot.

I played two years. That’s my hometown. Probably my best memories of minor hockey. -Marchessault

Literally standing smack dab in front of the TV was Vegas alternate captain Pierre-Edouard Bellemare giving us the play by play.

Oh what a save… I played in tournaments for Europe but never play a Pee Wee tournaments. It’s fun. A bunch of kids that didn’t know about hockey, or didn’t fully underst… Oh C’mon ref. That should’ve been two. -Bellemare

Like the other pros in the locker room, Bellemare was squarely focused on the strong WiFi broadcast of a Pee Wee hockey game. It really was surreal. Normally, the Pee Wee players watch their hockey heroes on TV. Yesterday, their hockey heroes were watching the Pee Wee’s on TV.

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Hurricanes Breathe Life Into Stale Postgame

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

It was Feb. 1. The Golden Knights had just dropped a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes. And as the Knights trudged off the ice at the PNC Center in Raleigh, it was turn-the-page time and focus on the next game against the Florida Panthers the following night.

The Hurricanes, however, weren’t quite done.

They remained on the ice and celebrated the win. First, it started with a team clap of the hands that looked like something Iceland’s national soccer team does. But it morphed into a quick game of childhood favorite “Duck, Duck, Goose.”

They call it the “Storm Surge” in Carolina. Don Cherry calls it something else. Cherry, who is 85 and has had a bully pulpit for decades on the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada telecast, ripped the ‘Canes.

These guys to me are jerks. And I’ll tell you one thing, they better not do this in the playoffs.. . . This is a joke.

Young men expressing themselves for joy of winning. You don’t do this thing in professional hockey. What are these guys? Jerks or something?

I know what I’m talking about. You never do anything like that. They’re still not drawing. They’re a bunch of jerks as far as I’m concerned. Imagine Justin Williams doing stuff like that. -Don Cherry

The team obviously has a different point of view. Williams, the team’s captain, plays a major role in all this.

And the coach doesn’t have a problem with the postgame celebrations.

We want to have fun when we win. The game should be fun. That’s why we’re doing it. I want the players to enjoy winning and the fans to enjoy being here. -Rod Brind’Amour, Hurricanes coach

My first thought when I saw the initial celebration earlier this year was, “What the hell is that?” But as the cellys became more creative and elaborate, I started to enjoy them. I hadn’t played Duck, Duck, Goose since I was a tyke back in the late 1950s. So I have to admit seeing a bunch of grown men doing it was pretty funny.

And the others are funny too. The fans offer suggestions, the players take them under advisement and then figure out what they’ll ultimately do.

Understand these “Storm Surges” take place after victories at home, long after the opposing team has left the ice. So the night of Feb. 1, all of the Golden Knights were in their locker room when the frivolity began, so none of them saw it.

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Attend The 2nd Annual Wine On Ice

The 2nd annual “Wine on Ice” event to support the Jr. Golden Knights is literally headed on the ice. While last year’s event took place in the lobby of City National Arena, this year attendees will gather on the ice at T-Mobile Arena.

The event is Saturday, February 23rd from 6-9 PM. It’s $100 per person and all of the proceeds benefit the Jr. Golden Knights.

Last year, the Jr. Golden Knights provided more than 20 scholarships to players in financial need. The JrVGK are also sending 3 teams to National championship tournaments. The Bantam AA, Midget AA, and high school teams will go to Nationals in April, and two teams are headed to international tournaments. The Squirts AA are attending the Squirt international tournament in Fargo and the nationally ranked (#11 in the country) Pee Wee AA are competing in the Pee Wee international tournament in Quebec.

The money raised from the “Wine on Ice” event helps to fund all of these great endeavors and continues to build the game of hockey in Las Vegas.

Aside from wine and appetizers, the event promises to be a unique experience mirroring some of the excitement of the game experience with music and emcee Nick Grismondi all while allowing the fans to be “on” the ice.

Last year’s event was an absolute blast and this one should be even bigger and better. Only 500 tickets are available and they’ll likely sell out fairly quickly, so don’t wait, get yours now.

Here’s the link to buy tickets. See you there!

William Karlsson Embraces Being A Role Model To Kids In Las Vegas

I grew in the era of high-profile, wealthy athletes proudly stating “I am not a role model” to their young fans.

For those of you that don’t remember, NBA legend Charles Barkley starred in a semi-controversial Nike ad in the 90’s. While the message by Barkley was actually quite important, kids like myself had no clue what Sir Charles was expressing. We just assumed he didn’t care about us or the game and was only in it for the money.

But times have changed since Barkley played. Social media and other outlets have made it easier for players to interact with fans. Some grasp it, and some don’t, but either way, players have much more access getting their message out to fans.

One guy that understands the responsibility of being a local role model is Golden Knights center, William Karlsson.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There are little kids watching and looking up to you, and you want to make a good example for those kids. Overall, in life you just try and be the best person you can be. And if that’s what being a good role model is, then I hope I am. -William Karlsson

Karlsson and I chatted a few weeks back about striving to become a good example for kids on and off the ice. In his point of view, it’s critical for the 26-year center to represent himself and the city of Las Vegas with class.

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Fleury, Reaves And Schmidt Have Plenty Of Laughs At Their Expense On Spittin’ Chiclets

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was a good old-fashioned Vegas roast on the latest episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. Host Rear Admiral and former NHL’ers Ryan Whitney and Paul “BizNasty” Bissonette welcomed Golden Knights star’s Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt and Ryan Reaves to an evening at the Friars Club.

Coming right off the faceoff, the trio wasted no time bagging on Vegas’ early struggles, and Nate Schmidt’s suspension.

What happened early in the year? -Bissonette

Couldn’t tell you about the first twenty. -Schmidt

Schmitty let us down, you know. -Fleury

Oh, c’mon! -Schmidt

After Fleury cracked up the room with his playful knock on his teammate, the gang asked Schmidt to get into his little stint in Vienna.

I would practice, I’d get bag skated everyday by this Finnish coach. He would come out with no stick, no gloves and put his hands behind his back and just skate up and down the ice. Fifteen laps was their pregame skate one day. I got back to the bench and looked up in the stands at the GM and go, ‘where am I?’ I’m going to be in the best shape of my life when I go back.” -Schmidt

Bag skating is a term players use when coaches are riding them hard in practice. It might be before or after practice, and it could be a variation of laps, goal line to goal line sprints, or suicide laps. Which are even exhausting to think about.

I was bag skating everyday. Five, six times a week. They take their skating a little more seriously. They skate, and skate, and skate. -Schmidt

Schmidt was asked if he traveled with the Vienna Capitals, his adopted club. The never bashful defenseman, although ashamed, openly admitted to some sweet star treatment in Europe.

I went on the road with them one game. The only problem was, this is terrible, the GM and I flew to this place and the rest of team bussed it. It was a nine hour bus ride from Zurich… I was rested. -Schmidt

The Golden Knights defenseman added that training in Vienna was…

Once, in a lifetime experience -Schmidt

Hopefully. -Bissonette

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Fleury Feels For Backup Goaltenders In Youth Leagues

Before Christmas, a college hockey showcase took place at the City National Arena featuring dozens of hopefuls looking to be recruited by NCAA hockey programs. I spoke with several college coaches, and not many of them were there to scout goaltenders. Mostly centers and defenseman. I asked why such low interest in goaltending, and one coach told me that all of the good goaltenders in the country have already committed or is currently playing in college. So the odds of finding a goaltender at a college showcase is very low.

What was interesting was this coach went on to explain he tries to sway youth players away from playing goaltender. And he’s looking out for their best interest.

Haha, yeah I’ve heard that. Different goalies and coaches tell their sons to play out in the ice and score some goals. -Marc Andre Fleury

I asked the former #1 Overall Pick, a 425 NHL game winner, three-time Stanley Cup champion, future Hall of Famer… oh heck, I asked the goalie with a million accolades Marc-Andre Fleury about youth goaltending.

If you’re the number one or one of the older guys a lot of the times they play more. Otherwise you sit on the bench. You don’t improve because you’re not playing. -Fleury

Think about it, in a game only one goalie plays for a team. There’s only two per dressing room. On every NHL roster you’ll notice nineteen positional players and only two goaltenders. So essentially, there are only 62 NHL goaltending jobs in the world. Keep in mind there are roughly 600 other players in the NHL. Pretty tough to make the show with such limited number of netminding jobs.

“The parents pay for a season and the kid sits on the bench all season. It stinks. So I can definitely see that point of view.”-Fleury

Subban looks lonely on the VGK bench, imagine how it feels for the backup on a bantam team.

Like Fleury mentioned, if a young goaltender isn’t playing then he’s sitting on the bench not improving. Possibly missing out on future opportunities on the ice. A young, less skilled forward or defenseman will get the ice time to work on their craft, a backup goalie does not. Which is why youth and college coaches suggest kids try all positions to see which really fits best. Not all young goalies can be the consensus number one goaltender in the world at age seventeen like Fleury was.

“My mom always thought it was a little stressful watching me playing goalie growing up. People yelling when they scored on me. I just had the most fun out there.”-Marc Andre Fleury

At the youth level the cost of goalie pads are more expensive than other positions. Competition is tight so ice time is limited. Scholarships don’t come easy for goaltenders, leaving parents footing the tuition bill. And if a young goaltender ends up getting drafted, there are less than 100 NHL positions too look forward to. The odds are certainly stacked against them.

So, I guess the moral here is tell your future NHL’er that it’s best to start off as one of the other nineteen positions. I don’t know, tell them chicks dig centers, and d-men are the best skaters on the team. This way they can look ahead to playing in high school, college and possibly further. Unless, of course your child is the next Marc-Andre Fleury. In that case email Dave Prior.

Vegas Golden Knights TV Ratings Soar

These two things are kind of a big reason for the massive bump in ratings. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s no secret to anyone that the Vegas Golden Knights are the most popular item in Las Vegas right now. Show up to a game, there are routinely 18,000+ people wearing grey and gold. Drive down the street and you’ll see thousands of VGK decals, stickers, plate holders, and now even custom license plates. You can go pretty much anywhere in this city and you are almost guaranteed to see the Golden Knights logo somewhere or on someone.

But the best determinant of actual fandom is eyeballs. By that I mean, people watching the games on TV.

Last year the numbers were very hard to come by (believe me, we asked over 20 times over the course of the season), but as the regular season came to a close, Sports Business Journal was able to gather the average number from the season.

The Vegas Golden Knights had a 1.87 rating on AT&T Rocky Mountain in the team’s inaugural season. –John Ourand and Ian Thomas, SportsBusiness Journal

For context, the league leader was the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 5.81 rating, the Buffalo Sabres came in second at 4.62 and the St. Louis Blues pulled a 3.93. The worst ratings in the league were by the Anaheim Ducks (0.24) and the Florida Panthers (0.27).

Before I show you the numbers for this year, let me explain TV ratings quickly. The numbers above, called “ratings” indicate what percentage of total households with televisions (whether turned on or not) are watching the channel. There’s another metric, called “share” which indicates the total percentage of households have that actually have TVs turned on which are tuned to a channel.

So, on to the fun numbers. Here are the Golden Knights ratings per game on AT&T SportsNet this season.

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