Growing up in Russian household, hockey’s always been in my blood. I grew up with stories of Vladislav Tretiak and the Olympics. Valeri Kharlamov and the Sumit Series. I was raised to be a hockey fan. I came to the Bay Area when I was about 10 years old and quickly became a diehard fan of the San Jose Sharks.Then, when I was 12, my mother took me on vacation to Las Vegas.
I loved everything about the city. The sights, the sounds, the shows, the Bellagio fountains, how the whole city lit up like miles and miles of fire. I loved the pools at the Golden Nugget and I loved the moving statues at Caesar’s Palace. But something was missing. Why doesn’t Las Vegas have a hockey team? I thought. This city is meant to entertain, and what’s more entertaining than a group of men with knives strapped to their feet chasing a small rubber disc? Sure, Vegas may not seem like the typical hockey market. But look at California. Until Gretzky was traded to the Kings, the state didn’t know the difference between a blue line and a clothesline.
So what could a 12-year-old girl do? Call the NHL front office and be on hold for hours? I tried starting a petition and got about 5 signatures, 2 being my parents. There was nothing I could do…except wait. I first heard the news back in 2011 that there was a possibility of expanding to Las Vegas. Was this it? Were my years of waiting finally over? Names like Bill Foley and George Maloof were thrown around. I knew they were wealthy enough guys. But how much power did they have to bring the NHL to Vegas?
And, finally, on June 22, 2016…it happened. Las Vegas got a hockey team. After 12 years of waiting….it’s finally happened. And I couldn’t be more excited.