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Vegas Bubble: Take Two?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The possibilities are endless. Start date, season length, realignment, you name it, the NHL is considering it for the 2020-21 season.

One such possibility, mainly due to travel restrictions, is a return to the bubble. But, this time, the league would have more than two.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo recently penned a terrific story including quotes from Bill Daly on the NHL’s plan for the upcoming season. In it, he included the idea of four regional “hubs” that would serve as central locations for each division.

Like Toronto and Edmonton, the NHL would probably “own and operate” the hotels and there will be some level of testing, but they’re not going to fence off the arena, hotels and restaurants. The league will do its best to control the environment, but players and staff should have more freedom (like going to dinner). -Michael Russo, The Athletic

Now, before you throw your hands up and scream bubble related profanities, know that these bubbles would likely include stadiums open to fans to watch.

The World Series, currently being played in Arlington, Texas, is the perfect example. Major League Baseball set up bubbles for the playoffs and now that we’ve reached the finale, they’ve actually invited fans in to watch the biggest games of the year.

The NHL could very well do the same and in fact, if they do it properly, teams could travel between bubbles a few times over the course of the year to allow more widespread competition.

Of course, Las Vegas is atop the list of potential regional bubble cities and will only become a stronger option with Lifeguard Arena opening and The Orleans laying ice for the AHL.

If it happens, it could mean up to eight teams in Vegas with multiple games daily at T-Mobile Arena, all of which are open to a limited number of fans. Sure, it’ll still be tough to be one of the 6,000 people that get to see the Golden Knights, but for any hockey fan, tickets would probably be easily available for all of the other games.

A hockey buffet for months on end on the Strip? Sign me up.

How An Impractical Idea By The NHL Has Dragged Las Vegas Through The Mud

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For months, since the idea of hub cities was brought to the forefront, Vegas was widely considered the best option for the league. Every major reporter, be it national or local, declared Las Vegas to be the city with the best accommodations to deliver on the utopian bubble-world the NHL was seeking.

The problem is, the NHL doesn’t actually believe in their own irrational idea and the image of Las Vegas is getting unnecessarily slammed worldwide because of it.

The plan the NHL has laid out is to bring 12 teams from each conference to one central location in order to play out the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs and crown a team a champion. (Really, they just want the money that goes along with the event, but we’ll let that go for now.) Each “hub city” will house all 12 teams through the first two playoff rounds and then presumably the winners from one site will travel to the other to wrap up the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final.

The idea sounds amazing. Lock everyone in a specific area, test them all at the beginning to ensure everyone is healthy and COVID-19 free, and then have them all live there so no one is at risk of contracting the virus. Since there were to be no fans in the arenas anyway, playing every game at a neutral site is also a great way to limit travel, testing, and staff to tend to the games.

Here’s the issue and why it’s unnecessarily dragged Vegas through the mud. If the concept of the bubble actually worked, the surrounding areas wouldn’t make any difference. Once the bubble is “sealed” even if every person in the city in which its located gets infected, everyone inside the bubble is safe. Literally, the reason the term “bubble” is used.

But, if it is indeed true that Las Vegas is no longer being considered due to a spike in cases in the city, which has been written or said by pretty much everyone despite no official word on of it, then the league has proven they do not believe in their own concept. Instead, what they believe is that people will slip out of the bubble, others will slip in, and when it happens they want to limit the possibility of a bubble defector or bubble invaders contracting the virus. (Actually, they want to create the perception that they did everything in their power to avoid the inevitable from happening so they aren’t liable when it does, but we’ll let that go for now.)

So, in their fear of defectors and intruders, they’ve gone above and beyond to weed out cities that appear to have higher numbers of positive tests. Somehow, Vegas became one of those cities on the outs, despite being the only city on the NHL’s list to have actually held sporting events since the shutdown. The UFC has been holding events in Las Vegas since late May and has hosted 110 fighters over five different fight cards without a single case of Coronavirus to an athlete. The NHL though, believes there are too many cases and are instead creating both bubbles in Canada.

This unequivocally proves that the concept of the bubble is viewed as untrustworthy by the league. In a utopian world, there would be no defectors nor intruders and a negative test at the beginning would carry through the entirety of the playoffs as everyone is locked safely and soundly inside the bubble.

But utopia doesn’t exist and unfortunately, Las Vegas is paying for the half-baked idea that was concocted in the name of safety in the first place. (Actually, the hub city idea was likely pitched and ultimately accepted because it is financially much more viable than traveling and testing in buildings that won’t be making money off gate revenue, but we’ll let that go for now.)

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The Creator Explains The Delay In Announcing Plans To Take Care Of T-Mobile Arena Employees

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Yesterday the Golden Knights became the 31st team in the NHL to commit to paying arena employees for missed games due to the pause in the season.

The Golden Knights organization, players and Vegas Golden Knights Foundation will combine resources and planning to support those employees who may miss shifts due to the pause in the NHL season and pledge a minimum of $500,000 to these efforts. Leading the player contributions is goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury,who has committed to donating $100,000. -Golden Knights press release

Previously, every other team had made an announcement except the Golden Knights. In a pair of interviews with Vegas Hockey Hotline and JT The Brick, the Creator explained exactly why it took a bit longer for his team to make their announcement.

We wanted to be very specific about what we were doing. A lot of clubs made kind of a general statement. What I personally wanted to do was to make sure we get the money to the people who need it. We’re actually distributing it to the people who work, directly. That way we know they are going to get it. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline

We wanted to make sure we dealt with this ourselves, directly with the individuals that are working, to get the money from us. We don’t want it going through a third party. We’re making the decision. We know who the people are, we’re just getting our list together. -The Creator on Fox Sports Radio with JT The Brick

The tricky part in the Golden Knights situation is that employees at T-Mobile Arena work for a variety of employers. Many work for MGM. Others work for Levy, the company that handles food and beverage in the arena. Ushers work for a company called WeServe, and there are a few other third party companies involved as well.

So, The Creator says he wanted to take the middlemen out of the process to avoid any situations where the money would be dealt with in an unsavory manner.

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Carp: 40 Years Later, The Miracle Still Resonates

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Reunions can be a joyous occasion.

Every year around this time, anniversary stories get written about arguably the greatest upset in the history of sports. The “Miracle On Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. should be at the top, or near the top of every sports fan’s list.

USA 4, USSR 3.

This coming Saturday, they’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event in, of all places, Las Vegas. Virtually all of the surviving members of the “Miracle” team will be at the Thomas & Mack Center during the afternoon where they’ll relive the events and no doubt stoke the patriotic embers inside every person who attends.

Later that day, they’ll be honored at the Golden Knights game against Florida at T-Mobile Arena. And you know the U-S-A! chants will be deafening.

They did something similar five years ago and like then, the players who attend the Las Vegas event are being well-paid to do so. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with that. If they can continue to cash in on their celebrity 40 years later, more power to them. And if you choose to support this with ticket purchases, jersey sales and other memorabilia that will be peddled, I’m fine with that as well. Have at it.

These guys weren’t really able to financially capitalize on their accomplishments back in 1980. Of the 20 guys who were on the top of the podium at Lake Placid, 13 went on to play in the NHL, the best being defenseman Ken Morrow, who won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders and was George McPhee’s college teammate at Bowling Green prior to playing on the blue line for Herb Brooks.

Together, this group shocked the world and Americans who didn’t know a blue line from a red line, suddenly became hockey aficionados.

You can argue about Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson in 1990 in Tokyo being the bigger upset. You could try to make a case for the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colts in 1969 in Super Bowl III. Some may say Leicester City’s winning the English Premier League championship in 2016 was the greatest upset ever. You might even try to cite No. 16-seed Maryland-Baltimore County’s beating top-seeded Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament as the biggest.

You can try, but you would be wrong.

No, what happened in Lake Placid on a chilly, and I believe snowy, Friday night on Feb. 22, 1980 trumps everything. How? It changed an entire nation’s view of a sport. It was cool to play and watch hockey. It wasn’t just Canada’s game anymore.

Of course, the U.S. had shocked the world 20 years before at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., when it won the hockey gold medal, beating Canada, the Russians and Czechoslovakia in what was the first “Miracle On ice.”

But let’s go back to what happened right before they lit the flame at Lake Placid in 1980.

You probably forgot what took place at Madison Square Garden when the Soviet Union beat the Americans 10-3 in what was the final tuneup for the Olympics. And as the tournament began, the idea that a bunch of college kids could beat the Russian pros, guys who had taken NHL teams to the woodshed, was preposterous.

The fact the U.S. managed to get to the medal round itself is a miracle. They scored in the final seconds on a goal by Bill Baker to tie Sweden 2-2. If the Americans lose that game, there is no “Miracle.”

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Nate Schmidt Is Pumped For The Opening Games Against San Jose

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The last seven times the Golden Knights have played hockey it has been against th San Jose Sharks. Prior to those seven, the last two really meaningful games in the regular season were a pair of games also against the Sharks. To open the 2019-20 season, the Golden Knights will open with not one, but two games against who else, the San Jose Sharks.

Nothing like dumping gasoline onto a fire to start the year. What a blossoming rivalry we have we these guys. -Nate Schmidt on NHL Network

Schmidt joined NHL Tonight on the NHL Network to chat about his summer, the upcoming season, and his less than stellar Da Beauty League appearance. (The whole video is embedded at the bottom) But his comments on the Sharks were the highlight of the show. You can clearly tell, the Golden Knights and Sharks still don’t like each other. With each one ending the other’s season the past two years, both teams are going to be out for blood early.

Those things don’t just boil over they don’t just go by the wayside. Guys don’t have a short memory when it comes to playing in big rivalry games. -Schmidt

Whether it’s Ryan Reaves vs. Evander Kane, Gerard Gallant calling Pete DeBoer “a clown,” Cody Eakin’s return to the ice after #NotAMajor, or even potential retaliation for Joe Thornton for the hit on Tomas Nosek that saw him suspended, there’s no shortage of storylines headed into October 2nd and 4th.

I was reading something from Logan Couture the other week on just how fast our rivalry has gone from 0 to 100 these last two years and he couldn’t be more right. -Schmidt

The biggest question of the night though is really how the T-Mobile Arena crowd will respond to the moment that ended their season a year ago. Will there be hostility toward the refs (who aren’t even the ones who made the call)? Will the anger be directed towards the Sharks, and which ones? And finally, what if the Golden Knights fall down early, does the building lose its up-beat positive party-like atmosphere and turn into something resembling the Black Hole?

I can only imagine Vegas-style (on Opening Night), you’re not going to be able to hear the guy sitting next to you on the bench. -Schmidt

There’s only one way to find out and it sure sounds like everybody involved is ready to find out… in 37 days.

Golden Knights/Sharks Round 1; Dates, Times, TV Information

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The best time of the year is officially here! The NHL playoffs get underway on April 10th, and the NHL has just announced that the Golden Knights and Sharks series will begin that night. Here is the full schedule for the series.

Game 1 – April 10th – 7:30 PM – ATTSN – at San Jose
Game 2 – April 12th – 7:30 PM – ATTSN – at San Jose
Game 3 – April 14th – 7:00 PM – ATTSN – at Vegas
Game 4 – April 16th – 7:30 PM – ATTSN – at Vegas
*Game 5 – April 18th – TBD – TBD – at San Jose
*Game 6 – April 21st – TBD – TBD – at Vegas
*Game 7 – April 23rd – TBD – TBD – at San Jose
*if neccessary

An Educated Guess At When The Golden Knights And Sharks Series Begin

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The NHL playoffs officially get underway on April 10th. However, not all of the eight series will start that day. Instead, at least three will start the following night on the 11th. The schedule will not be released until Saturday at the earliest, but using some deductive reasoning we believe Vegas and San Jose will start on April 11th with games every other night through the 23rd. Here’s how we came to that conclusion.

As of this moment, only three teams have officially locked in home-ice advantage in the first round. They are Tampa Bay, Calgary, and San Jose. However, it seems fairly likely that Boston and Washington have their spaces under control. That leaves three we are waiting for.

The two series from the Central will start in two of the three of Winnipeg, Nashville, and St. Louis, so we’ll account for all three of those options. As for the Metropolitan, it looks like it’ll be in New York (Islanders) or Pittsburgh, again, we’ll account for both.

The best way to predict when each series will begin is to look at the arenas each team play in and see which dates are unavailable. Here are how all 10 arenas look for April 10th through 14th.

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Partnered Post: Secondary Market Prices For Golden Knights Tickets Are Down 27% Since Start Of Season

A year after winning the Pacific Division and becoming the first North American professional expansion team to reach a league final, the sheen may be starting to wear off the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. According to secondary ticket marketplace TicketIQ.com, the average asking price for a Golden Knights tickets have dropped from $271 at the beginning of the season to $199 – a decrease of nearly 27%.

Vegas fell from having the No. 2 priciest ticket on the secondary market in the first half of the season to the fifth priciest at the start of the second half. And the current $199 average asking price is the lowest in the team’s two-year history.

As of February 12, the highest average asking price in the NHL was $325 for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the lowest was $66 for the Arizona Coyotes. The Maple Leafs also started the season ranked No. 1, and currently have the only average asking price of more than $300 in the league. Arizona started the season with the cheapest ticket, and the average asking price has fallen just over 8% since the season opened.

For the first time since the Golden Knights came into existence, tickets on the secondary market are available for less than $100 for some home games. The cheapest game remaining at T-Mobile Arena, according to TicketIQ.com, is the February 28 game against the Florida Panthers, which is trending at $89. A total of four games have get-in prices under $100 between February 12 and the end of the season:

February 26 vs. Dallas Stars

  • Avg Price: $159
  • Get-in price: $90

Hard to figure exactly why this game is so cheap because as of February 12, the Stars were in sixth place in the Western Conference, behind the Golden Knights. The drop-off between fifth and sixth place is significant, though – Vegas had 66 points and Dallas had 61.

February 28 vs. Florida Panthers

  • Avg Price: $142
  • Get-in price: $93

As of February 12, the Panthers were in 13th place in the Eastern Division, and the teams have played only three times since Vegas’ inception. The Golden Knights beat Florida in Las Vegas, 5-2, on December 12, 2017, and lost to them at Florida, 4-3, in overtime on January 19, 2018. The most recent meeting was on February 2 at Florida, and the Panthers won, 3-1.

April 4 vs. Arizona Coyotes

  • Avg Price: $178
  • Get-in price: $98

This is the final regular-season home game for the Golden Knights, and they’ll be playing one of the weakest teams in the league in a game at the end of the regular season which may have no playoff seeding implication.

**TicketIQ is an official sponsor of SinBin.vegas. Our readers get $20 off their first purchase by using the code SINBIN at checkout.**

Golden Knights Have An All-Star In Carnell Johnson

**Steve Carp’s twice-weekly column publishes every Wednesday and Sunday during the Golden Knights season.** 

I was watching the NHL All-Star Game last Saturday and looking forward to a fun evening of hockey.

Then Lauren Jauregui ruined it.

Jauregui decided she would sing her own rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at SAP Center in front of a worldwide audience. She must have thought she was on “American Idol” or “The Voice.”

As she screeched her way through the song (and bravo to the VGK fans who attempted to drown her out by yelling “KNIGHT”), I could only think of one thing:

“Where the hell was Carnell Johnson when America needed him?”

Understand that I usually don’t rant about national anthems, or pregame routines in general. Whether they are singers who perform or athletes who choose to stand respectfully (see Nate Schmidt) or prefer to kneel (Colin Kaepernick) I respect everyone’s right to sing it and listen to it however they choose.

I know it’s not an easy song to sing and I have been in every NHL arena and have heard it butchered more than once.

So this isn’t about Lauren Jauergui. If she wants to sing it her way, fine. I also don’t have to like it.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

This is about Carnell Johnson, a man who sings it the right way every time. No schmaltz. No interpretation. He sings it the way it’s supposed to be sung — with respect for flag and for country.

Johnson is a 37-year-old Las Vegan who is a trained bass-baritone singer. He works as a gondolier at The Venetian and when (Pippo, his gondolier name) is on the job, he is the most requested person.

The man they call “Golden Pipes” is as good as any anthem singer you’ll find in any sport, anywhere.

Yes, Jim Cornelison is considered the gold standard in the NHL. Johnson himself says the man at the United Center whose voice cannot be drowned out by the Chicago Blackhawks’ fans and who points to the stars and stripes when he sings “that our flag was still there …” is legendary. Whenever NBC does a Blackhawks game in Chicago, it will show Cornelison on the telecast. Maybe it’s in Doc Emrick’s contract.

And there are plenty of other wonderful performers across the NHL. I still think Roger Doucet, who sang “O Canada” at the Montreal Forum during the 1970s and sang it bilingually, is the greatest anthem singer ever.

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Home Ice Disadvantage?

This picture was a joke when it was taken, it’s not a joke anymore. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

For the better part of a year and a half, the Golden Knights’ home building has rocked like it’s a playoff game every night. The raucous Vegas crowd aids their team when the Golden Knights are playing sluggish, or down a goal. It’s why home ice advantage can be important.

In Las Vegas it’s made a difference.

VGK Home Record:
2017-18: (29-10-2)
2018-19: (16-6-3)

Several Golden Knights players have spoken about the advantage the atmosphere of the T-Mobile Arena and Vegas fans give them during a game. Players tell us all the time that playing in their home building gets them amped up before and during games. Well, it happens to the opposition as well.

It’s a cool atmosphere to play here. It’s easy to get up for it. We try to play our game and rise to that next level here. -Charlie Coyle, Wild forward

Is it possible that the nightly postseason atmosphere can have a reverse effect?

After their win against the Golden Knights, Wild players admitted they got a boost of energy playing in the T-Mobile Arena’s atmosphere. In fact, it may have helped them get back in the game and eventually win it. Nashville said the same.

It was a good win. Being here in Vegas it added a little extra. I mean it was still cool… You know the first one was a lot of fun but it’s always nice to have some family and friends in town. -Jason Zucker, MIN Forward

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