The final of the Golden Knights & # 39; Cup shows a different side of Las Vegas



LAS VEGAS – The question of seeing a professional hockey team is that it's not terribly interesting. There is no winner, there is no loser, there is no food stall, no beer, no tension, no narrative, no stakes. There are many shots in empty or barely protected networks, which is fun to watch for about ten minutes before it becomes routine.

But for Vegas Golden Knights fans, the team's practice sessions could also be games. At noon on the day after the city's bright heroes won Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, the City National Arena in the suburb of Summerlin is packed with fans. Everyone is dressed in Golden Knights clothes, expecting to see their kids skate in circles for about fifteen minutes. Others sit in the restaurant's practice facility, which has a bar with windows that overlook the track. They eat hamburgers and chips while they watch to see if the players have already taken the ice. Today's session is optional and very short. It does not matter, the crowd still sings "GO, KNIGHTS, GO!" On the empty track.

Deneen Dardis joins. She is originally from North Dakota, but nine years ago she moved to Las Vegas because she wanted to be in The Sun Shines. He played hockey while growing up, but since his small town did not have a team for girls, he had to play with the kids. By the time she reached the seventh grade, they made her stop. He still skates sometimes, but when he talks about it, it can be said that he still feels that he had to watch his older brothers play in high school when there was no way he could do it. But hockey is still Dardis' favorite sport, and she was delighted when the Golden Knights showed up in the city. She works from home for Microsoft and lives near the practice track, so she has come to see them practice all season. Then they have many others; When I was here on a random Tuesday in February, the stands were at least half full.

"I've been coming before it was a crazy race," she says. "I came to see you shoot and practice, it's fun to be part of that, I'm still working right now, so do not post this yet, I slipped away at my lunch break"

Dardis is one of the few Las Vegas fans He really loved hockey before the Golden Knights became the 31st team in the NHL. Well, no, I'm sorry, that's not true; Vegas has had more connection with the sport than most people think. There have been two minor league teams in the history of the city – the ECHL Wranglers and the IHL Thunder – and many children grew up playing sports here, waiting until the night fell below zero in winter to cross the driveway to improvised tracks that would melt the next day to the sun.

But for many fans, this was new. On Monday, local cameraman Jason Sherrin told me that he had taught himself the game, seeking sanctions and memorizing the rules before the season began.

"They've made a lot of hockey fans, I think it's a wonderful thing," he said. "A lot of people at the university asked," Well, what hotel do you live in? "And my favorite question was:" Is the film closed in winter like at Disneyland? " Having a team shows that there are people who live here, who work in places that are not casinos, obviously, the service industry is really great, but there are people who go to school here, who were born here, they grew up here. they show that this is more than just a destination city. "

Vegas is more than a destination city. The place is booming: while driving to T-Mobile the other day, my Uber driver pointed out all the new construction near the north end of the Strip, where buildings that remained unused for years and years are finally being repaired. Technological industries have moved to the city, bringing jobs and new people. When you drive to the practice arena from the Strip, you pbad rows and rows of stucco houses that seem to last forever before reaching the grave desert surrounded by the red ring of mountains. The city continues to push towards the dry sand as more people come here (many from southern California) for the low cost of living. Most residents do not play or step on the Strip unless they work there. Or, these days, if they go to a hockey game.

Players also know the "real Vegas"

"I feel like it's my home," Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch tells me after practice. . "I met a lot of good people, many locals, I've been getting to know more and more people as I move forward, and they've treated us almost too well, it's amazing, I know my neighbors now, as a first name, I'm talking to them. a message from one of my neighbors saying congratulations, it's great, and that's how they raised me, in a big community, in a very extroverted place, that's why I love Las Vegas, people are very welcoming, very sociable and love have a professional sports team here, in fact, it's a very small city. " Smile and laugh a little before adding: "almost too small".

This small city with big neon signs is reinvention. Yes, it is a place where you can come and forget who you are for a weekend. But it is also renewed: there are hardly any buildings left from the days when the Rat Pack sailed through the old strip to the east of the current neon river. This last iteration of this place has nothing to do with casinos or losing money. It has to do with being a normal suburban city, where normal people live and do normal things. The office buildings surrounding the practice building could well be in Anytown, USA. UU

But the Strip is still big, and this new domesticity does not mean that the Golden Knights have not leaned towards the dazzling side of the city. This is a great place to lose some money (believe me), and if they saw Game 1, they saw the extravagant, beautiful, shrill, strange and totally exciting introduction that is played on T-Mobile before the record falls. Either you loved it, or you thought that kind of theater has no place in hockey. If you fall in this last field, it's a pleasure for me to inform you that the fun police are on your way home with an honorific badge. But two things can be true at the same time; Tuch can be a good friend of the magician Criss Angel ("I met him after one of the games, I was a big fan of magic, so I went to his show, levitated, it was crazy") and with his neighbors in Summerlin .

One thing is for sure, however; The city is much more than a place to go to a techno pool party. The locals finally feel that they are beginning to reach the outside world. And the Golden Knights have helped immensely.

"That's what I tell my friends who come to the city," says Dardis. There's a lot more to do than just bet and the Strip. I live far here in Vegas Golden Knights, and I always bring them here to buy souvenirs, visit the slopes. I explain that there is the Red Rock Canyon to walk. There is a lot to do here outside of the city. People have no idea that the country of God exists here. "

I leave Dardis and the track to get out, a sign has appeared near the entrance, leaning on an easel, it says: SEATS ARE IN CAPACITY.

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