First of all, let me say I appreciate having a forum to continue to write about the Golden Knights and the NHL. Many thanks to Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier for giving me the opportunity to connect with the followers of SinBin.vegas. And a very special thanks to the Jimmerson Law firm for sponsoring my column.
You will be hearing from me twice a week — on Wednesday and on Sunday. I will also be on the SinBin podcasts and will participate in other events and promotions with Ken and Jason.
Many of you are wondering what happened to me last summer. I won’t get into the exact details as to why I left the Review-Journal in early July. Let’s just say after 19 years of marriage it was time for both of us to move on.
I had pursued other opportunities, both here in Las Vegas and beyond. Ultimately, I accepted a position last month to be senior editor at GamingToday, which has been around for more than 40 years and am glad to be part of the publication’s new chapter.
Yes, GT deals with hockey, but from a betting perspective. And since I don’t bet on hockey, you won’t see my byline when it comes to wagering on the NHL or the Golden Knights. However, here at SinBin, you will get my observations on the Golden Knights and the NHL.
It will be unfiltered. It will be unbiased. It will be fair.
When the team is deserving of praise, I will be first over the boards to acknowledge it. When they are deserving of criticism, I will deal with that as well.
For those not familiar with my background, here’s the Cliffs Notes version: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York as a Rangers fan. I played roller hockey, switched to ice hockey, captained my high school team and played two years of club hockey at Manhattan College before I left to pursue my Journalism degree at San Jose State.
I have been a New York Islanders fan since their inception in 1972 and my heart belongs to the orange and blue. (No, I wasn’t devastated when John Tavares left in July, though it would have been nice to see him in a Golden Knights sweater.)
In other words, hockey has been part of me for as long as I can remember. And while you don’t have to have played the game to know the game, it doesn’t hurt to have experienced what the Knights do daily, albeit on a far lower level. I remember talking to Nate Schmidt about hockey sticks prior to last Christmas and how I used an all-wood stick throughout my career and how breaking in a pair of new skates required a lot of pain and suffering. When you’ve played, you can relate. Riding a bus. Carrying your gear. The one-of-a-kind stench that comes from sweaty equipment. You never forget.
Not once last year did a Golden Knights player, coach or executive say to me, “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about!” though I admittedly came close a couple of times with James Neal. And though I hadn’t played in a hockey game that counted in more than 40 years, I was proud of that. Once hockey gets in your blood, it stays there forever.
So now that you know something about me, let me explain why I decided to write a book on the Golden Knights.
Back in January as the team was having unparalleled success on the ice and in the stands playing to above capacity at T-Mobile Arena, I realized what a great story was emerging. Obviously, none of us had any idea how things would turn out, but I came to the realization that the Knights’ story could make for a great book.
I canvassed a couple of my colleagues at the paper and other media members throughout the league and they spoke with one voice — “You have to write that book.”
I had been covering the story from the start and was around the team every day. I asked owner Bill Foley what he thought and he seemed receptive to the idea. Eventually, I would ask him to do the Foreword to the book (more on that later).
My leaving the R-J allowed me time to think, to write, to review the journey of the franchise, shop for a publisher and still have it come out in time for the 2018-19 NHL season.
Normally, it would have been next to impossible to deliver. But thanks to today’s options, an author can go a nontraditional route to get published. I had sent the manuscript to booklocker.com, a company out of St. Petersburg, Florida, and it was accepted. It is a “Publish On Demand” process which means when you order the book, and I hope you will, they receive your order online, print your book and ship it to you the next day. Or if you prefer to get it quicker, there is an ebook version where with a click of a button, the file gets downloaded to your computer, tablet, Kindle, phone, etc. and you’re in business. (The link to buy it is at the end of this column)
There have been three books written on the Golden Knights. The R-J and Sun came out with theirs after the Stanley Cup Final and both are photo-driven supported by copy from stories by reporters from their respective papers. A third book was written by Joe Pane, which I have not yet read. And the Knights are planning to come out with their own book — a high-end, glossy stock book in November.
So why buy my book, “Vegas Born?”
For starters, it is the most comprehensive work on the franchise. It is 284 pages and it goes back to the very beginning when the Maloof brothers approached NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about trying to bring a team to Las Vegas and Bettman introduced them to Bill Foley.
This book also chronicles the entire inaugural season. Every game is mentioned with details and quotes from those games. It also provides insights into the players, coaches, and staff along with how the franchise and the city bonded in the aftermath of the October 1 shootings.
It’s a balanced, unbiased look at the team, written in the same fashion as when I covered the Knights at the R-J. I believe it is worth your time and money and I really think you’ll enjoy it.
I also hope you will enjoy my work in the coming weeks and months for SinBin. Ken and Jason truly love this sport, this team, and this city and I’m glad to be joining them in providing information and insight into the Golden Knights.
The Foreword that never got published
Earlier, I had mentioned that Bill Foley was going to write the Foreword to “Vegas Born.” I have known the man Ken and Jason lovingly call “The Creator” for four years and I thought the best way to start a book about the birth of a franchise was to begin with words from its “heavenly father.” (You like that one Ken?)
Due to a series of circumstances and timing issues beyond anyone’s control, the forward did not make it into the print version of the book. However, luckily, I have a new forum to share Foley’s words, and I couldn’t think of a better way to launch my column on SinBin.vegas than with an original work from the man who brought hockey to Las Vegas, Bill Foley.
Here is the Foreword to “Vegas Born” in its entirety:
When I began pursuing an NHL franchise for the City of Las Vegas in 2014, it was an uncertain journey. There was no guarantee from anyone, and it was going to entail a lot of hard work on the part of a lot of people.
Las Vegas had no major league sports franchises at the time. The city had played host to major sports events over the decades, from the National Finals Rodeo to NASCAR auto races to world championship fights in boxing and mixed martial arts. It had also hosted NHL hockey, NBA basketball and Major League Baseball. But I always believed this was a city that would support something worthwhile, especially when it came to something the people could claim to be their own. And after carefully evaluating the market over a period of time, I decided to move forward with my pursuit of bringing major league pro sports to Las Vegas.
It was going to take time, a lot of money, and even more patience, the latter of which I usually don’t have great quantities of. But as I began the process, I learned that being patient was worth more than the actual money that would be spent on the endeavor.
I have owned many businesses in my life, and obtaining any of those enterprises was easy compared to the process my partners and I would endure in the attempt to bring hockey to Las Vegas. It was exhaustive, to say the least, and often times frustrating. The vetting was more intense than anything I had been through. But we were ultimately successful in our quest. When I think back to the launch of our season ticket drive in February 2015 — and we had over 5,000 people commit their money on the first day to support a team that didn’t exist at the time and didn’t know if it would ever come to pass — I knew we had made the right decision.
Fast-forward to the night of June 7, 2018. Who would have ever believed that a first-year franchise would be playing for the Stanley Cup? And while it was heartbreaking to have come so close only to come up short, I was brimming with pride. I was proud of our entire organization, our management, our coaches, our players. Most of all, I was proud of our fans and the city for their unyielding commitment to our franchise and our cause. Not only were they committed financially, they were totally invested emotionally. We played to over 105 percent capacity every night and we made hockey a fun event. People who had never seen a game became hooked and became some of our most ardent and loyal supporters.
I always believed in the ‘Knight Culture.’ To me, knights are among the most noble of warriors. They battled with a sense of honor, a call to duty to protect and defend their community. For me, I knew if we were successful in our quest to bring the NHL to Las Vegas, I wanted the knight to be represented in our name. I believed our fans would get behind the name and concept, embrace the culture we attempted to create and be an active part of everything. And as we achieved success upon success, it dawned on me that this would make a terrific book someday. It is a truly remarkable story and one that I believe would be of interest to a wide spectrum of people.
First and foremost, it would hold massive appeal to the fans of the Vegas Golden Knights, who hang on the edge of their seats through every minute of every game, people who come to watch practice at our beautiful facility, City National Arena, and who follow the team on television and radio if they can’t get to T-Mobile Arena on game night.
Second, I believe this story appeals to hockey fans in general. You don’t have to root for the Golden Knights to appreciate what this team managed to accomplish in its inaugural season. It was good for the NHL and good for the sport in general. In less than a year, we have helped grow youth participation in the sport by as much as 43 percent in some areas and we are committed to growing the game in Southern Nevada at the youth level — witness our outreach program with the Clark County School District to bring hockey into the physical education curriculum for middle school boys and girls. If you love hockey and the history of the game, you will be drawn to this story.
Third, this has been a remarkable sports story. No expansion team in the four major professional sports was able to accomplish what the Golden Knights did in 2017-18. You don’t need to be a hockey fan to appreciate the journey this team took and marvel at what it was able to do.
Finally, this is a book that can appeal to all of Las Vegas. None of us will ever forget the horrific events of the night of October 1, 2017. It will be part of our legacy and history. But in the aftermath, we saw how sports can help a city heal, help it bond, help it rise up and unite. We had a moral obligation to be part of the city’s healing process and we continue to honor that commitment on a daily basis. If you live in Las Vegas or have visited the city and have any kind of emotional attachment to it, this story will interest you.
But who should write it?
I met Steve Carp back in 2014 when I visited with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s editorial board and was sharing my vision with the editors, hoping they would throw their support behind this endeavor. I didn’t know Steve, but others had informed me of his work. He had been covering sports in Las Vegas since the summer of 1988. He knew hockey, having played it growing up in New York, and was a lifelong fan of the game. He also knew the community and the market, and we quickly formed a friendship.
Over the decades, I had done hundreds of interviews with the media. But I had little to no dealings with sportswriters. I was very comfortable when I learned that Steve had been selected to cover our team, and he has been there every step of the way, chronicling the Golden Knights’ amazing story.
When I learned that Steve was thinking of doing a book on our team, I couldn’t think of a better person. He witnessed the journey and as far as I’m concerned, he was the perfect person to tell our story.
“Vegas Born” is an entertaining, accurate and balanced portrayal of the Vegas Golden Knights. We were not always perfect, though we strived to be. Our warts are exposed as are our amazing accomplishments and successes. Whether you’re a Golden Knights fan, a hockey fan in general, just a regular sports fan or a resident of Las Vegas who appreciates the history of the city, I hope you will enjoy reading the following pages.”
Chairman, CEO, and Governor, Vegas Golden Knights
In addition to penning the Foreword, Bill also gave his blessing for me to use “Vegas Born” as the title for the book. As you know, the team has trademarked the phrase and after seeing what he went through with the Army and the college in upstate New York when it came to trademarks and copyrights, I didn’t want to get into a legal tussle with the team.
Now, thanks to Brian Killingsworth, the team’s Chief Marketing Officer, “Vegas Born — The Remarkable Story Of The Golden Knights” is available for purchase in both The Armory at T-Mobile Arena and “The Arsenal” at City National Arena in limited quantities.
I hope to have a book signing event at The Arsenal in late November or early December, preferably on a Saturday when more people can get there. If you buy the book online, bring it and I’ll sign it. If you buy it at the event, my sharpie will be at the ready. And if you happen to see me at practice or on game night and you have your copy with you, I’ll be glad to sign it right on the spot.
Once the details are worked out, we’ll have them for you right here at SinBin.vegas as well as the book’s website — www.vegasbornbook.com. You can order the book from the site, sample a chapter, and check out the endorsements from some hockey media notables.
And for the SinBin’s Canadian followers, we have a link to Chapters/Indigo on the book’s website so you don’t have to hunt for it.
Bill Foley’s Foreword, unfortunately, wasn’t in the book. But I’m so proud and glad you got to read it for free here at SinBin.vegas
Farewell to Sheng Peng
Many of you know or are familiar with Sheng Peng, the Golden Knights’ correspondent for the website, Hockey Buzz. He was around all last year and he quickly became a favorite among those of us who covered the team.
He’s a likable guy and a hard worker. He spent his own money to travel with the team, both during the regular season and throughout the playoffs. How many people do you know would do that to give their readers a first-hand look at the team he writes about? (Well, other than the loveable knuckleheads who run this website.)
Sheng has decided to leave Las Vegas and he is headed to the Bay Area where he and his wife have a home in San Francisco.
His last day was Sunday when the Knights hosted Ottawa. But if you like his work and his analytic approach to writing about hockey, fret not. He will be working for “Fear The Fin,” a site dedicated to the San Jose Sharks.
Sheng didn’t always endear himself to Gerard Gallant and some of the players. He saw the game through a much different lens than the rest of us. He does not have a traditional hockey background. He never played. He didn’t grow up around the game. He was more comfortable in the analytics of the sport.
For Gallant and many of his players, that was a world they were and are not comfortable with. Gallant is as old-school as it gets and he grew up with newspaper guys, not websites. And he sure as hell didn’t get raised on Corsi or Fenwick and anything else like that.
So he and Sheng had a Yin-Yang relationship. I only bring it up because there tends to be so much animosity between teams and the media that covers them that sometimes we don’t take the time to understand where each side is coming from.
I can tell you for a fact that Sheng Peng liked the Golden Knights and liked covering hockey in Las Vegas. His critical analyses may have rubbed some people the wrong way, but he was never malicious in his reporting or writing. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not a traditionally trained journalist, but he worked hard to build up his credibility, and while he may have ticked off some people along the way, he never did it deliberately, and he always delivered excellent work.
Here’s hoping there will be smooth swimming inside the Shark Tank for a really good guy who loves the sport and goes the extra mile to promote the game with the best of intentions.
**All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**
Playoffs in three, Cup in six, the mantra. As a fan, you’ve got to love the optimism, no matter how unlikely you feel it may be, but have you ever wondered how George McPhee and Gerard Gallant feel about the mantra? Let’s be honest, it has to make them uneasy.
Does The Creator’s wish list mean there’s an apocalypse clock on McPhee and Gallant and does “no excuses, that’s the standard,” mean the coach/GM duo have a hard deadline? Whether true or not, there’s no question every time the mantra is said publicly by the guy signing the checks, pressure has to be mounting for McPhee and Gallant.
So, just how ambitious or impatient is The Creator with his future plan? After researching expansion history, “playoffs in three and Cup in six” doesn’t seem that far off for a new owner’s expectations. We can’t find any other owners publicly stating a mantra like this (let alone hundreds of times), but it appears to be a standard set decades ago. In fact, three and six would actually have been considered overly patient for many new owners.
San Jose Sharks
First coach: George Kingston
Two seasons: 1991-93 (fired offseason)
Win% .129 (28-129-7)
First GM: Jack Ferreira
One season: 1990-92; 17 wins (39 points)
First Coach: Rick Bowness
Four seasons: 1992-95 (fired mid-season)
Win% .204 (39-178-18)
First GM: Mel Bridgman
One season: 1991-93; 10 wins (24 points)
Tampa Bay Lightning
First Coach: Terry Crisp
Six seasons: 1992-97 (fired early season)
Win% .421 (142-204-45)
First GM: Phil Esposito
Six seasons: 1991-98; one playoff appearance
First Coach: Roger Nielson
Two seasons: 1993-95 (fired mid-season)
Win% .489 (53-56-23)
First GM: Bobby Clarke
One season: 1993-94; record points (83) for an expansion team
First Coach: Ron Wilson
Four seasons: 1993-97 (fired offseason)
Win% .458 (120-145-31)
First GM: Jack Ferreira
Five seasons: 1993-98; acquired Teemu Selanne, one postseason appearance
First Coach: Barry Trotz
Fifteen seasons: 1998-2014 (fired offseason)
Win% .533 (557-479-160)
First GM: David Poile
Nineteen seasons: 1998-present; Stanley Cup runner-up, one Conference title, ten playoff appearances
First Coach: Curt Fraser
Four seasons: 2001-03 (fired mid-season)
Win% .312 (64-169-46)
First GM: Don Waddell
Nine seasons: 1998-10; Division title, one postseason appearance
Columbus Blue Jackets
First Coach: Dave King
Three seasons: 2000-03 (fired mid-season)
Win% .397 (64-106-34)
First GM: Doug MacLean
Six seasons: 1998-07; no titles, no playoff appearances
First Coach: Jacques Lemaire
Eight seasons: 2000-09 (resigned in offseason)
Win% .529 (293-255-108)
First GM: Doug Risebrough
Eight seasons: 1999-09; Division title, three postseason appearances
Only three original expansion coaches lasted longer than five seasons. Other than Nashville, most franchises became noticeably impatient after the second or third year. Below-average and/or developing rosters likely won’t matter, Gallant’s fate could already be determined by expansion history and The Creator’s goals. Same goes for most original expansion GMs. Four general managers lasted longer than six seasons. Only three expansion teams qualified for the postseason by their third season.
Let’s be clear, fans shouldn’t give a bleep about past expansion trends, and they won’t. They’ll gladly let Gallant and McPhee know if and when they’re on the hot seat. As impatient as the owner may seem, fans will always take the cake in that category.
The mantra will be revisited hundreds of times over the next six seasons, probably by this site alone. Gallant and McPhee must hear it in their heads at night, “Playoffs in three, Cup in six.” I can’t confirm but I heard from an imaginary source that this is what every text conversation with the owner is like for McPhee and Gallant.