Golden Knights’ Incredible Success Continues To Set Records
The National Hockey League has entered another era of expansion with the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights and is enjoying the team’s unprecedented success. The Golden Knights have set an NHL record for an expansion team with 51 wins, which was also the best mark in the Pacific Division. Their 109-point season was the fifth-best in the entire NHL.
The addition of the NHL’s 31st club has created an excellent opportunity to grow the game and provided an exceptional chance for the players to demonstrate their skills and abilities on a larger platform. The success of this season has not only opened up a new untapped market for hockey; it has given the league one of the best stories in recent history, with impressive numbers in ticket sales, TV ratings and jersey sales.
Vegas has continued this success in the postseason, having won six of its first seven games, and is set to take on the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the second round tonight. The record-setting team is now only 10 wins away from the Stanley Cup.
It has also been reported that the team generated over $65 million in ticket sales in its inaugural season, becoming the fourth-best team in the league in terms of average capacity of the arena, at 103.7%. This places Vegas behind only Chicago (109.7%), Minnesota (105.9%) and Washington (104.6%). Essentially, this means that Vegas sells out of its capacity for seats and is consistently selling standing-room-only tickets.
The popularity of the team has even infiltrated the dugout of the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball. Bryce Harper, a native of Las Vegas, has been proudly cheering on the team throughout the season. Other sports icons, like Von Miller of the Denver Broncos, have also been spotted supporting the club recently.
Vegas has achieved a level of popularity that is not easily obtained by other NHL clubs, let alone a team in its first year of existence.
Entering the league as the 31st club, Vegas became the latest chapter in the NHL’s long tradition of expansion. The league comprised six teams, which became known as the Original Six, for nearly 50 years, until 1967, when the league entered the expansion era.
On June 22, 2016, the NHL Board of Governors announced the creation of the Vegas-based club and outlined the rules that would govern the allocation of players to the new franchise. Essentially, the rules required the Golden Knights to select a player from each of the other 30 teams. George McPhee, Vegas’ general manager, took on this challenge and has assembled arguably the most successful expansion roster in the history of professional sports.
The roster, headlined by potential Hall of Fame goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, was largely made up of relatively unknown players from around the league. This group of self-described “golden misfits” has captured the attention of the hockey world and the city of Vegas.
The success of the club is the direct result of the players being given an opportunity to shine. Fifty-nine percent of the players on the Golden Knights put up career numbers in points in the regular season.* These players include:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”5994″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]* Players appearing in at least 20 regular-season games.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban each set career bests in Goals Against Average (GAA) and Save Percentage (SV%). Fleury posted a 2.24 GAA and a .927 SV%. Fleury was among the league leaders for both GAA (3rd) and SV% (6th). Subban was also impressive in posting a 2.68 GAA and a .910 SV%.
The player’s success on the ice should be reflected in the market come July 1, the start of free agency. Stay tuned for a deep dive into the player market, salary arbitration and more after the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The unprecedented success of the club on and off the ice should give the league confidence to continue to grow into new markets. It will be interesting to see if the success of the Golden Knights can be replicated in other cities as the league continues to expand. It is widely anticipated that Seattle will be chosen as the host city for the league’s 32nd club. In fact, Seattle was given the opportunity to hold a ticket drive to demonstrate that the market had enough interest in hockey. The drive met the original goal of 10,000 season tickets in 12 minutes. Vegas, on the other hand, took two days to hit 5,000 season tickets.
The record-breaking success of the Golden Knights suggests that the continued growth of the league makes good business and hockey sense and provides more opportunities for the immensely talented players of the NHL to showcase their elite skills. Whether in the bright lights of the Nevada desert or the beautiful American Northwest, it is clear that hockey is alive and well.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]