Tuesday night, a new NHL franchise was unveiled in Las Vegas, and this is great news for Chicago Blackhawks fans
Every year once the NHL season is over, fans count down until opening day of the next season. Baseball is all we have had to get us through summers here in Chicago, and it hasn’t been the most exciting thing to watch until this year. But once fall comes around and training camp starts up, Chicago Blackhawks fans start planning their trips.
Blackhawks fans have been notorious for filling opposing teams arenas, much to the other teams’ disliking. But when the NHL schedule comes out, I know I circle dates that I’d like to see the ‘Hawks in a city I have never visited.
Sometimes, if we’re really lucky, we can parlay ‘Hawks games with the Bears and/or Bulls. Last year we were lucky to have a Saturday night Blues-’Hawks and a Sunday afternoon Bears-Rams weekend. We went 2-0 on the trip!
That being said, a new franchise was added to the Western Conference yesterday with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and its location makes a perfect destination for ‘Hawks fans. I imagine fans from all over the country will want to fly in to watch their team and then hit the slots. Or maybe catch Britney Spears concert — whatever floats your boat.
The possible relocation of the Oakland Raiders will also make matters interesting for Chicago sports fans as the Bears may make their way to Vegas in the future.
This goes for all visiting teams, but you have to think a strict curfew will be enforced for visiting players in Las Vegas. The Blackhawks are no strangers to having a good time, but business is business. Visiting a state where gambling and prostitution is legal will bring complications to all sports teams, but hopefully rules are made clear to everyone.
This past year, substance and abuse problems were reported among stars in the NHL including Mike Richards, Ryan O’Reilly, Slava Voynov and Zack Kassian. These problems included intoxication, domestic violence and illegal substance abuse.
Temptation will always be a problem in professional sports, with highly paid athletes visiting major cities. Let’s hope that the growth of professional sports in Las Vegas will help the NHL brand grow and promote programs for those in need of help.
The last time there was an expansion draft in the NHL was 2000 when the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets entered the league. The Blackhawks surrendered Radim Bicanek to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jeff Daw to the Minnesota Wild.
The 2017 expansion draft will probably be similar to 2000 where just because Vegas drafts certain players doesn’t mean they plan on keeping them. GM George McPhee will most likely be taking the highest rated players available, then wheeling and dealing up until the entry level draft.
As for the Blackhawks, it will be tough to see a player go. But all teams will be feeling this same pain. GMs will be strategically making certain players available in hopes of freeing up cap space, but who becomes unprotected is to be seen.
The Blackhawks have been public about not trading away any draft picks since the draft will be held in Chicago this year. This will make for an interesting trade deadline as the ‘Hawks have been buyers in recent years.
That being said, what do you think about the NHL expansion to Las Vegas? Do you plan on seeing the ‘Hawks play in Sin City? Who would you make available to the Vegas team?
Thanks for reading! – Aaron