Column: Give the Golden Knights the respect they deserve

Written by on August 19, 2023

By Aubreigh Heck / Editor-In-Chief

Photo submitted by Aubreigh Heck / Jason Heck (left) and Aubreigh Heck (right) pose for a picture outside T-Mobile Arena following a Vegas Golden Knights victory.

Oftentimes when I scroll through the comments of posts celebrating the Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup win, people are crying that the Knights were “handed” their championship roster by the league during the 2017 Expansion Draft. 

Those people, to be quite honest, are idiots. 

The Golden Knights entered the league all the way back in 2017. The original members of the team were dubbed, “The Golden Misfits,” because they performed beyond initial expectations by making the 2018 Stanley Cup Final (but ultimately losing to the Washington Capitals 4-1 in a best of seven series). 

For those who don’t know, the rules of the Expansion Draft are that the expansion team gets to select one player from the other teams in the league. Of course each team has the ability to protect certain players, having the option to either protect x amount of each position (seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie) or eight forwards/defensemen and one goalie. 

When the Knights’ final roster was released, they were predicted to finish dead last in the Pacific Division. Some reporters even predicted that they’d finish last in the whole league. Then, the Knights had an unexpected breakout season with Vegas players having career bests. Like William Karlsson, who scored a career high 43 goals (third most in the league that season), David Perron (finished with a career high 66 points) and Jonathan Marchessault (who finished with a career high 75 points). 

When the Knights outperformed their competitors, people were up in arms. Complaints that the league gave the Golden Knights an amazing roster and forced the other teams into giving up their good players echoed in the minds of many hockey fans. While it is true that the league did change the rules for the 2017 Expansion Draft, the league is not the reason for the success the Golden Knights had.

If you’re one of those hockey fans who thinks that the league gifted the Knights their roster in hopes of growing the game quicker in the desert, you are wrong. And there’s no other way to put it. The Seattle Kraken proved that point when they entered the league at the start of the 2021 season. 

The Kraken had the same exact expansion draft rules as the Golden Knights, with the only difference being they weren’t allowed to select any players from the Vegas roster (due to the VGK still being a young franchise). Before anyone thinks that that’s unfair, the Golden Knights didn’t receive any compensation from the Kraken’s league payout like the other 30 teams in the league did.

Now here’s the kicker – there were only SIX original Golden Knights left on the 2023 championship roster. SIX. How in the world could the league have handed the Golden Knights a championship roster for the year 2023 all the way back in 2017 when only six original Misfits remained? 

Hockey fans, I understand the frustration of seeing the Golden Knights winning the Cup in their sixth season while your favorite team has been unsuccessful to do so for many years (looking at you, Leafs fans), but there is no reason to try and disparage the Knights’ Stanley Cup Championship because of that. 

Oh yeah, and in case you’d forgotten, GO KNIGHTS GO!

Aubreigh Heck is a Las Vegas senior majoring in Communications and Public Relations. She serves as KWU Student Media’s Editor-In-Chief.

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