My favorite is the VGK themed food starting to pop up around town. First, at one of the best restaurants in the entire city, Zuma, is the Golden Maki Roll. An eight-piece sushi roll of bluefin tuna, tempura flakes, and pickled daikon topped with toro, fried ginger, Ossetra caviar, and 24-karat gold leaf.
Photo Credit: Zuma at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Staying with the sushi theme, Sushi Ichiban has the Golden Knight roll made with soft shell crab and onion crunch and topped with peanut butter, spicy crab meat, spicy garlic ponzu, and spicy yum sauce.
Before the announcement of the Golden Knights in 2016, professional sports seemed like a long shot in Las Vegas. Baseless theories of legal, local gambling influencing the outcome of games were used as excuses. When in reality, the thought of millionaire athletes risking their careers and future contracts to fix one game is, and was always, far-fetched.
Rewind five years, surprising to some the NHL took the risk and became the first league to crack the Las Vegas market. However, as revealed by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman the NHL is still concerned with gambling and the integrity of the game but has nothing to do with Nevada. The league proved that last week when they harshly punished veteran official Tim Peel. The last thing the NHL could afford was a corrupt official like infamous NBA referee Tim Donaghy.
There were deep conversations about how damaging it is to your league during a crisis of consumer confidence. The CBA between the NHL and its officials now contains specific code-of-conduct references: ‘Each official agrees to abstain from habits of intemperance, gambling, immorality or other conduct likely to bring himself and/or the NHL and/or the game of Hockey into disrepute or which results in the impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NHL games or the integrity and good character of its officials.’ -Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet
Last week the NHL quickly nipped a potential controversy in the bud when the official’s hot mic became a major story.
Initially, the story had absolutely nothing to do with gambling, but because of past issues in other sports, the NHL made a tough stand to ensure fans their product is genuine. Without transparency, gambling on hockey could be eliminated, and sadly to say, the interest in the sport would decrease significantly, not to mention millions in lost endorsement money for the league.
It’s an age old question that tends to come up in any discussion about the validity of Las Vegas as a professional sports market. If Vegas is really a great place for a franchise, why has no league ever gone there before?
The answer is quite simple, but there are a few moving parts to examine to truly uncover it.
Let’s start with the city itself. Las Vegas was founded in 1905 and incorporated (I have no clue what this actually means) in 1911. In 1931 the state of Nevada legalized gambling and the Hoover Dam began construction. Construction workers from the Dam moved into Las Vegas and eventually, after the Dam’s completion, massive casinos went up in the city.
By the mid 60’s casinos became the cornerstones of the city and Las Vegas began it’s reign as the gambling mecca of the world. However, the local population still remained incredibly small. In 1970 the population of the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which includes Henderson, Boulder City, Mesquite, North Las Vegas, and unincorporated Clark County was just 273,000. By 1980 it had risen to 461,000 and in 2000 the total population was 1.4 million.
Las Vegas is obviously well known as America’s adult playground. Sin City, the place where you can go and let your inhibitions run wild.
But this trend of thinking that everyone who lives (and works) in Las Vegas are some sort of degenerate gamblers, smokers, and porn addicts is simply false. We are regular people, like all of you in your regular boring cities across this country and that other one above us.
With gambling comes drugs. Not to mention being close enough to the Mexican border to be a perfect destination for illegal drugs. It’s a place where people with money can go and have a good time. -Ryan Ritchie
Gambling = drugs is false, but let’s just let that one slide. The latter part is absolutely true. There are drugs here, and people with money often come to use them. However, the cause and effect that comes with it is just a bit off.
Does that sound like a good recipe for a young hockey player with millions of dollars?
Does it really make sense to put these kids at even higher risk in a city with a higher propensity of drug use and overall drug availability?
Now I don’t blame Mr. Ritchie for making this assumption because he’s probably never been to Vegas for longer than five consecutive days, and I’m pretty sure the motive of the article was to finally get Gary Bettman fired not to bag on Vegas. But it’s an assumption that happens FAR too often and it has to end, because it’s simply not fair.
Every major city, and really, every city, has drugs. People with money (i.e. professional hockey players) can get their hands on them if they try hard enough. Las Vegas will be no different.
These things are stereotypes. Las Vegas has some rough ones, and for good reason, but they are not indicative of the real city these players would live in. Come to Vegas and venture off the one street you know, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out we are just like anyone else, and NHL players living here won’t face any challenges they don’t face in any of the other 30 cities in the league.
Stop with this particular narrative please. There are better reasons to doubt Vegas as a hockey town, even though we’ll fight you on every single on of those too.
VGK vs SEA (10/10/23) VGK -165 SEA +140 O/U 6 (O -125)
VGK at SJS (10/12/23) VGK -235 SJS +192 O/U 6.5 (U -120)
VGK vs ANA (10/14/23) VGK -350 ANA +275 O/U 6.5 (U -115)