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“We’re Built To Play”; In Front Of Fans Or Not

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s going to be different. It’s going to be quiet. It’s going to be weird.

But according to Mark Stone, it’s going to be just as intense as ever when the games finally get going in front of empty seats at a hub city somewhere in North America.

No matter what the surroundings or what the setting is, I think the intensity is going to be there. -Stone

Vegas fans are so used to seeing their team play in front of 18,000 screaming fans inside of a building with a sound system that makes jet engines sound like lullabies. They’re also used to players both home and away explaining how important to fans are to the success of the Golden Knights.

But the fact of the matter is when you take it all away, as awkward as it will look visually, hockey is still hockey and the best players in the world will be competing for the same prize they’ve dreamed of winning since they were young boys.

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Casinos Are Back, Now Do Sports

At 11:59 PM last night I was standing in a line of about 100 people outside Red Rock Casino. It was out of sheer curiosity, wondering what casinos would look like under the new normal in the post-pandemic world.

Like everyone, I’ve seen the pictures and videos of giant glass shields covering the tables and I’ve heard the horror stories of potential hygiene-related rules that will be put in place. I was ready for the worst.

I’ve been to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies, restaurants, retail shops, and pretty much every other place I’d normally visit in my daily life and the changes are noticeable. So I expected the casino, a place that’s essentially built on people touching common objects, to be completely unnoticeable to what I remembered before they were forced to shut down 79 days ago.

Midnight hit and the line started moving towards the door. In eight minutes, I found myself standing about 10 feet away from a machine that took my temperature. Two seconds later, I was cleared to enter, as was every other person in the line, and free to walk about the casino.

Every machine was on; chairs at every other one. Same at the bar, which was already full of people ordering drinks and tapping the machines in front of them. Table games were open, with fewer chairs, but running the same way they always were with people touching cards, chips, and dice. Despite a lack of live programming on the TV’s, even the sportsbook was open and seemingly operating as usual.

It was shockingly normal.

Which got me thinking about hockey.

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Dear SinBin – May 6th, 2020

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Q. Hi SinBin, hope you are well and enjoying being home with loved ones. I’m writing because I’m having marital problems. My husband is a huge Golden Knights fan and that’s what has created the issues. We’re both working from home so already our personal space was getting cramped but now that there’s no hockey I can’t get away from him. Normally, three, maybe four times a week I had to myself while my husband was watching the Golden Knights.

I can’t explain how precious those three hours were to me. I love my husband with all of my heart but I need something to distract him a few times a week. Do you realize how backed up I am with my shows? I’m falling a part here.

-Delay of game Debra

A. You are not alone Debra. Significant others across the valley are having the same issue during the quarantine. Without the Golden Knights, there’s nothing that can easily replace the time spent watching hockey per week. Your husband is probably thinking it’s best spent with his wife. That’s clearly not working for you, and others, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

You mentioned distractions, which is a good first step in saving your marriage. I suggest you force your husband on would be game nights to catch up on highly-rated shows or movies that he may have missed over the years. He could roughly spend the same amount of time binging as he did watching the Golden Knights play. If he resists, tell him to ‘act like a man’ and watch The Godfather, The Sopranos, or Narcos. Call out his manhood, hit him where it hurts.

You could also fib and tell him he’s looking a little tight around the waist. Let him think that since the NHL pause he’s grown a little ponch, and it might be best if he spent two hours on game nights to work out. Even if your hubby is in shape, poke hard enough and he’ll worry you’re not attracted to him. We won’t admit it but men don’t like being fat-shamed.

Lastly, if he doesn’t cook, tell him to start. Pick out a few time-consuming recipes a week that will take up hours of his time. This should allow you to gain back some of your precious me time.

If none of that works, divorce him, or just “pause” your marriage. Everyone else seems to be doing it.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Q. Dear SinBin, I’ve had this problem since late February. Now that there’s more time to think about it with the pause and all, I’m ready to reveal my dilemma. I have two loves and I’m torn. Both are great, one is charming and athletic, the other is a lovable, stonewall panda. Lately, I have come to the reality that both cannot stay in my life. There’s cost, games started, styles, endorsements, etc. Please, I need your help. Who should I start?

-Caught in the crease

A. There’s a great saying that we all know well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You might think you love both but really there’s one that means more to you. One sentence stood out to me from your letter, “There’s cost, games started, styles, endorsements, etc.” It’s good you’re starting to realize that only one can be in your life. Is it the more established but older one? Or a giant that’s hitting their peak?

It’s a stressful time and dilemmas like this can weigh you down. Maybe it’s best to step back and allow a team president or general manager to help make that difficult decision. Either way, you should feel good about 55-60 starts next season.

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Poll: 70% Will Attend Golden Knights Games

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last week Seton Hall University conducted a poll asking fans their level of concern attending a sporting event after the threat of COVID-19 is gone. The Stillman School of Business canvassed what fans would do if the leagues resumed play before there was a coronavirus vaccine? The results were lopsided.

72% of those who responded to the poll said they would not feel safe attending games until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus is developed.

Asked what they would do if the leagues resumed play before there was a vaccine, 12 percent said in the poll released on Thursday that they would attend but only if social distancing could be maintained.

Only 13 percent said they would feel safe. The poll run by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business was conducted over April 6-8 with 762 respondents. -Steve Keating, Reuters

The university polled under 800 sports fans who overwhelmingly showed hesitation about returning to a venue without a successful vaccine. Something, we’re all concerned with. However, the numbers seemed broad, and possibly too regional. Seton Hall is in New Jersey, a state devastated by the coronavirus, and the poll participants were mostly sports enthusiasts from the NY/NJ area.

So, we decided to get a little more precise and ask a similar question to Golden Knights fans. The results were optimistically different.

With over 2300 votes, the SinBin.vegas poll found a much different response than the one conducted back East. Surprisingly, 48% clicked they would feel safe returning to a Golden Knights game after the league resumed and 70% said they would be willing to attend a game. Compared to the 13% of respondents from the Seton Hall poll.

Locally, Vegas residents are proactively isolating and keeping their distance as the governor told us to. However, many believe this is only temporary and the poll positively reflects that.

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VGK All Over 2019-20 NHLPA Player’s Poll

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Every year the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) conducts a poll among more than 500 players asking a wide-ranging variety of topics.

In the Golden Knights’ first season there were just two mentions of Vegas related items in the poll. Last year that number jumped to five. This year takes the cake with seven total Golden Knights mentions.

We’ll start with the team related ones. First, in a bit of a surprise, the Golden Knights were voted to have the second-best jersey in all of the NHL.

Last year T-Mobile-Arena was voted as having the best atmosphere in the league. This year that category was left off, but that didn’t keep Vegas away from the arena related items.

The best individual honor received by a Golden Knight went to Marc-Andre Fleury.

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A New Type Of Tough

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights schedule came out it was impossible to not focus directly on the eight-game road trip smack dab in the middle of it. Four games before the break, four after, and a 28 day period away from home is about as daunting as it gets in the NHL.

No matter what has been going on this season, that trip was always in plain sight. Whether the Golden Knights were in 1st, 2nd, or out of a playoff trip, none of it would be real until they completed that trip.

It was like a boss in a video game, but not the one at the very end, the one in the middle that ruins your chances of ever even getting to the end. Mr. Sandman for those who played Mike Tyson’s Punchout or that damn Tubular level on Super Mario World.

And like that boss, the only thing that matters is coming out alive.

The Golden Knights tallied nine points on the eight-game trip and actually advanced up the standings in the Pacific (mostly because the division is a dumpster fire). They come back with a different coach, some different tactics, a few new faces in the lineup, but most importantly, with the trip in the rearview mirror.

The entire season has always been clouded by “yeah, but what about that road trip.”

They made it and it didn’t destroy their season (unless you are Gerard Gallant).

But the going isn’t about to get easier, yet. Despite having 10 of the next 12 games at home, the Golden Knights are playing four of the league’s top six teams and six out of seven games against teams currently in the playoff picture.

The first game home off a long road trip is always a trap game and this one especially after stealing a win from Carolina in Raleigh. Then a quick trip out to Minnesota to play the only non-playoff team, followed by home games against five excellent teams and a few repeat opponents from the road trip.

This stretch is arguably tougher than the road trip itself, just with the comforts of home-ice behind it.

Welcome home, now here’s St. Louis, Tampa, New York, Washington, and Florida.

It’s probably just what the Golden Knights need though. They beat the toughest level and can use the confidence to get through another challenging one.

They’ve had a habit of playing down to competition this year. With losses against Detroit, Buffalo, Anaheim, and Los Angeles (twice) the Golden Knights might actually benefit from a gauntlet of a schedule. When installed as a -200 or more favorite, Vegas is just 5-4-2 this season. Meanwhile, when slight favorites at home they have wins against St. Louis, Calgary (twice), Arizona (twice), and Toronto.

The tests keep coming. Some they’ve passed, some they’ve failed, but thanks to a terrible division they are alive and well. Hopefully, it’s hardened them enough to deal with the real test in April and beyond.

Mike Tyson and Bowser await.

Max Pacioretty Delivers On Son’s Demand In First Home Playoff Game

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Max Pacioretty was a Golden Knights fan long before he ever became a Golden Knight. The reason for that is his sons, Lorenzo and Maximus fell in love with the team in the playoffs last year.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When Pacioretty told his sons he was traded to Vegas, they wanted to know which logo the Golden Knights were on their NHL bed sheets. Unfortunately, because the sheets were a few years old, there was no Golden Knights logo. Luckily, Max had a backup plan because he knew his boys would remember the pregame shows they watched together last year in the playoffs.

So I’m like, “Vegas! Here — come on, you remember these guys, right? From the playoffs last year? That cool team in black and gold? They made the Cup Fi—”

And right in that snap second, I see their eyes just light up. I know I don’t even have to finish the sentence. The boys, not only do they remember Vegas from the playoffs last year……. they loved Vegas in the playoffs last year.

So now they’re jacked.

Now they’re parading around the house, you know, chanting and hollering, “WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS, WE’RE GOING TO VEGAS.” -Max Pacioretty, Player’s Tribune

(By the way, if you haven’t read that Player’s Tribune article, stop reading this right now and go read that. It’s better than this one, I’m not even going to lie. I would appreciate it if you come back though.)

So there’s no question Pacioretty has been thinking of Sunday night’s game for a while. His first playoff game as a member of the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. It was always going to be special, and it was always going to be a memory he’d share with his kids.

As soon as my kids woke up at 6:30 in the morning they thought it was time to go to the game. For my family, it’s the best time of the year. -Pacioretty

Then, one of his sons made a request, one he’s never done to his NHL superstar father before.

First time in my career my son asked me to score a goal tonight and I was able to do so. In this rink, I’m sure he had a ton of fun. -Pacioretty

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

That’s a lot of pressure.

About eight minutes into the 1st period and just a few seconds into Evander Kane’s 4-minute high stick penalty, dad got it done. He took a pass from Shea Theodore, walked in towards the goal and sent a laser of a shot past Martin Jones.

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Season Ticket Holder Boxes: It Really Is The Water From T-Mobile Arena

Last night the Golden Knights held the annual “Season Ticket Holder Event” in which more than 4,000 season ticket members showed up to Mandalay Bay to paint VGK logos on canvases provided by Pinot’s Palette.

While the fans were painting, the entire Golden Knights roster showed up to sign autographs, take pictures, and chat with the thousands in attendance. It was as unique as a “hockey” event can possibly be.

When the event ended season ticket holders were given their 2018-19 member box. (Pictures at the end of the article) It’s become a tradition the team intends on continuing for at least the first five years. In that box was a tiny glass vial filled with the water that made the ice at T-Mobile Arena last season.

Like anyone, I saw the vial and had questions, is it really the actual water and if so, what are the logistics of making this happen? So, like any good blogger professional writer I found the answer, and yes, it really is the water.

We needed something different. Brian Killingsworth (Chief Marketing Officer) brought it up and we’re like, well that’s interesting, is that even physically possible? I said, if we can’t do the real thing, it would be foolish. So, the end of the season we worked with Salami (Ice Man), and once the ice melted we had buckets down at T-Mobile Arena. Then, we had to ship those buckets by ground to Arkansas. Our group out there had the vials already and they filled them. We only did 6,000 of them. There’s still some water left, but it is absolutely the real water from the ice. -Todd Pollock, Director of Ticketing

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First Time At T-Mobile Not Kind To Opponents

It’s a story that’s been somewhat beaten to death over the course of the season, but with the Golden Knights having home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup Final the impact of T-Mobile Arena will play a role in the series.

The Golden Knights finished the regular season with a record of 29-10-2 at home and have built on that with a home record of 6-1 in the playoffs.

The numbers get even more staggering when you look at team’s first visit to T-Mobile Arena in the regular season and playoffs. In the regular season teams who made their first trip to Vegas were 7-21-2. In the playoffs, they are 0-3. The Kings, Sharks, and Jets were all losers in both their first trip in the regular season and postseason.

Plus, in each of the three playoff games, the Golden Knights scored within the first five minutes of the game. 3:23 in against Los Angeles in Game 1 Round 1, 4:31 in against San Jose in Game 1 of Round 2, and 0:35 in against Winnipeg in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.

The question is, why?

First off, the Vegas Golden Knights are a really good hockey team. Beating good teams on the road is challenging for anyone, let alone having to do it against a team that is equal to or better than you.

Next, Vegas Flu. We can act like it didn’t exist in the regular season, but there’s pretty clear evidence to the contrary. Multiple teams claimed to have hosted their “rookie dinner” in Vegas, a few teams completely changed travel plans in order to avoid it, and there are countless anecdotes of NHL players being seen at the tables, clubs, and bars on the Strip.

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T-Mobile Arena Obligations Likely Indicate Dates Of VGK Playoff Games 1 & 2

See you on the 11th and 13th! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Now that they’ve got the little “x” next to their name and have clinched not only a playoff berth but also home-ice advantage in the first round we can start talking about home playoff games at T-Mobile Arena.

The NHL calendar declares this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs will begin on April 11th, but there’s never a guarantee when each team that’s qualified will play their first game.

However, if you check out the calendar for T-Mobile Arena, the home of the Golden Knights, you’ll notice, the NHL is painted into a corner. Sucks for them, great for us.

Justin Timberlake is set to perform on back-to-back nights at T-Mobile, meaning the building will be unavailable for hockey on April 14th and 15th. Once again, the NHL playoffs begin on April 11th.

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