Usually Drop The Gloves gives a chance for the writers on this site to disagree with each other, but sometimes an article we write strikes a nerve in you, the readers. That’s what happened with my recent article titled “Las Vegas In Winter Classic 2018 At West Point? Yes Please.” Former Guest Post contributor Stephen J Sochor sent in his rebuttal, which is now the first ever Drop The Gloves Guest Post. So, here goes.

Playoff games that start past many kids, and some adults, bed times, NHL Awards voters who watch little Western Conference hockey, and Winter Classic Games that are hosted in cities west of the Mississippi River, this is the NHL and its lack of interest for those fans who follow teams in the West. Why would the Las Vegas Something Knights agree to extend an east coast road trip by at least 3 days, AND lose a home date in the process? This is so short-sighted, and it does nothing for most of the fans in Las Vegas, whether they are season ticket holders or not.

The Las Vegas franchise is another chapter in growing the game to areas that are not traditional hockey bases. Stealing a home date from the fans that support the team in order to give their opponent a game in their backyard is preposterous. Even if you don’t believe the team will be able to compete for a playoff game next year, why would The Creator be happy to give up millions in tickets, merchandise, and local tax revenue? If you do believe the team can compete for the playoffs in year one, then what is to gain by extending a road trip by half a week for a singular “road” game?

The gain here is to play the long game. Ken is right in one aspect, that “The NHL wants to do all it can to highlight Las Vegas in its first season.” but they aren’t doing that for the people they need to do it for. Fans out west are the most important market that the league needs to go after. Season ticket holders have already bought in, but those 16,000+ won’t keep the team afloat alone. The community, which from what we’ve been told is essentially eastern California to Boise to Salt Lake City to Kingman, at large is what needs to be entertained and sold on the game. This rumored match-up does nothing more than put a game on television from a location few care about.

There have been 2 US outdoor games west of the Mississippi River (well, technically 3 since Minneapolis is just west of the river, but I digress) in Denver and Los Angeles. Why jump in on the first opportunity to participate? If Foley makes the long play he can be in a position to play a road game against rival Arizona or San Jose. In that scenario, Las Vegas does not lose a home date, and it would actually mean something, let alone that fans might actually be able to participate in the event itself.

There is no reason to rush into these league events when the league does nothing to make good on an obvious slight to the franchise. The team is coming. The next eight months will fly by, and the inaugural season will go by just as fast. Enjoy it for what it is. The Winter Classic has run it’s course, and over the last 2 incarnations the ratings have dropped year-to-year.

Stephen J Sochor

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