A Knight To Remember

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about relocating.  Both professionally and personally, Los Angeles seems to have run its course for me.  After 37 years, two failed marriages and a pandemic that seems to linger here beyond comprehension, it may be time for me to look elsewhere, particularly where rents can be cheaper, and people have more inviting attitudes.

My must list is fairly short.  Warm climate, affordable housing, people who love life and health and at least four major league sports franchises.  South Florida has qualified on those parameters since 1993.  But Las Vegas is fast catching up.  After decades of reluctance due to outdated beliefs that gambling would overly influence results for “hometown” teams, the NHL took the plunge by expanding to the market in 2017 with the Vegas Golden Knights.  Playing a brand-new arena on the Strip, they had an outstanding beginning to their existence, making the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural seasons and qualifying for the playoffs in each subsequent season.

This season, an almost interminable one that began in early October and will extend through the end of April, has seen a bit more challenge.  The team went on a prolonged losing streak earlier this year and has been on the cusp of missing the post-season for the first time.  Things got so iffy that Evgenii Dadanov was traded to the Anaheim Ducks earlier last week, just after the official league trade deadline.   Anaheim is virtually assured of not making the playoffs, so for Dadanov a move to this area would have been a downgrade for both earning potential and immediate success.   As the Associated Press reported it:

The league voided the deal and said Dadonov’s limited no-trade clause “had not been complied with.” Under the terms of his contract originally signed in 2020 by Ottawa, the 33-year-old Russian winger submitted a list of 10 teams to which he would not approve a trade.

While there is nothing in the rules stopping Vegas from making a post-deadline deal and sending Dadonov to a team not on his no-trade list, the team is expected to keep him. Any other decision, while permitted, could draw questions from the league office and players’ union for a team that created its own cap trouble, been ravaged by injuries and lost seven of its past nine games to fall out of playoff position in the Western Conference.

The team said in a statement, “The Vegas Golden Knights recognize the league’s decision and welcome Evgenii back to our club.”

So with a national TV audience (ABC no less!) watching, the Golden Knights hosted the Chicago Blackhawks in a crucial game yesterday afternoon.  They went into the third period down 3-0.  And then, each within a minute of each other, they tied the game.  And then re-tied it after Chicago got the lead back, sending it into overtime.  Which set up a finish appropriate for an entertainment mecca on the Strip.  A Golden (Knight) Goal for, you guessed it, Dadonov.

With the win, the Knights regained the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.  And Dadonov became an instant folk hero.  I have little doubt his dinner last night was comped.  His decision to avoid Southern California was as justified as my desire to leave it.

Right now, moving for me is complicated.  I can’t publicly explain why.  Besides, Vegas still only has lured the Raiders to join the Knights so far.  But last week I had a quick layover in Vegas where I caught up with a longtime buddy who had recently relocated, and in fact is working at the venues that house the local teams.  All indications are that the Oakland A’s are eventually going to find their way there–had it not been for the lockout, they would have played exhibition games there at the new Triple A ballpark.  The A’s have been in California longer than me, and it’s clear from the meager support they get from their fan base, playing in a decaying stadium that the Raiders vacated two years ago, they’re as ready for a change as I am. 

And there’s increasing speculation that the NBA Pelicans will flee New Orleans and find their way to Vegas soon as well.  The WNBA is already in place with the Las Vegas Aces.  They draw well despite their record.  Why not?  The air conditioning in the arena works really well.

And best of all, a dear friend of mine who once lived there wants to make a move to warmer climates herself, and she’s open to sharing a rental (with a pool, natch) that would greatly improve each of our lives.  We could likely rent out a spare room to travelers and effectively have our costs paid for, giving us the freedom to pursue careers and opportunities that could result in our respective finances moving out of the red.  Heck, with all of these relocating teams there might be a chance for me to work among them just like my recently relocated buddy did.

So the stars are aligning.  Four(five) pro teams.  Good friends.  And Dadanov.  In due time.  But soon, I pray.

Viva Las Vegas!




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