Expansion Knights Advance To the Stanley Cup Finals – Good for Hockey?
Is there any doubt that Las Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerrard Gallant and general manager George McPhee are the NHL's coach and general manager of the year? What they've done with an expansion team is historic. It's a team that a year ago didn't even exist. But the Knights have advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in their very first year.
The Knights followed up an incredible regular season with an equally incredible run in the playoffs. They've lost just three games in the playoffs in sweeping the Los Angeles Kings, eliminating last year's Western Conference champion Nashville Predators in six games and on Sunday knocked off the Winnipeg Jets in five games with a 2-1 win. Now they await the winner of the Eastern Conference final between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Is it a good thing for hockey that an expansion team is just four victories away from winning the most recognizable trophy in all of sports? Of course it is. It goes to prove that any team, any group of players that have the drive, the inspiration and the fortitude to play the game with passion and most importantly work hard for it can win a championship in any sport. Good for them. They deserve it.
Is it good for the NHL? Every team in the league should be embarrassed that an expansion team, a brand new team is the first team to advance to this year's Stanley Cup finals. It goes to show that high-paid players and high draft picks mean nothing. The Knights are a collection of players that other teams didn't want.
I'd take the make-up of the Knights any time over the joke of a team the Buffalo Sabres are. The Sabres haven't even made the playoffs in seven years and the season they just finished is probably the worst I've ever witnessed.
The Knights are everything the Sabres aren't. While the Sabres are satisfied to draw a paycheck, the Knights are determined to do everything they need to do to win games. Yeah, sure, the Sabres say the want to win, but they're not willing to put in the work to do it. Many of the Sabres said a lot of the right things on locker clean out day, but they said a lot of those same things all season long.
General manager Jason Botterill has a lot of work to do. Signing Swedish defenseman Lawrence Pilut and being lucky enough to win the draft lottery and a chance to select defenseman Rasmus Dahlin should help, but the Sabres need a lot more than that. It's a start though.
If anything, the Golden Knights successful season just adds to the frustration of Buffalo Sabres fans who have waited so patiently for 48 years for a championship. After this past season Sabres fans can't help but think that possibility is light years away.