LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Golden Knights raised their Stanley Cup championship banner in the most Las Vegas way possible.
Captain Mark Stone placed the Stanley Cup next to an oversized slot machine on the ice Tuesday night before the season opener against the Seattle Kraken and pulled the lever. Three Cups representing the jackpot came up, and then the banner began to emerge from the slot machine as the capacity crowd roared and players looked on just before they beat Seattle, 4-1.
“It’s not easy, we had our ring dinner a few nights ago, went to the Raiders last night, so you get a lot of things going on in your life and you’re trying to enjoy what we accomplished but also prepare for a season so you try to balance both,” Vegas forward Jack Eichel said. “It’s an amazing experience to watch a banner go up and you want to enjoy every moment. But in the back of your mind, you’re preparing for a game as well.”
Before the players came on the ice, a video played in T-Mobile Arena going through the team’s short history from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announcing Las Vegas was awarded an expansion team to the expansion draft to Deryk Engelland’s emotional speech following the Route 91 Harvest festival mass shooting.
Highlights were then shown, ending with the Knights winning their first championship in June.
Raising the banner capped a three-day celebration for the Knights. They received 12-carat white and yellow diamond championship rings in a private ceremony Sunday. Then Monday night, the players lit the Al Davis memorial torch at Allegiant Stadium before the Las Vegas Raiders’ game against the Green Bay Packers.
Not only did the Knights raise their banner to the rafters, Tuesday marked six years since Engelland delivered his “Vegas Strong” speech, nine days after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Vegas’ championship banner resides next to one that memorializes the victims of the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting with 60 stars representing each victim who died from that tragedy.
The Knights fulfilled owner Bill Foley’s pledge to win the Cup in six years, a statement that seemed at best optimistic when uttered. But Vegas was competitive from the beginning, making the Stanley Cup Final in its first season before losing to Washington in five games, the Capitals celebrating on the Knights’ ice after the clincher.
When given another shot at the Cup, the Knights didn’t let the opportunity go to waste. This time, they won it in five games, routing the Florida Panthers 9-3 in front of a raucous home crowd.
The Knights have decided to try to run it back, returning all but one skater who competed in the Final. Reilly Smith, one of the six remaining original Knights, was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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