Whether hockey returns this year or not the Vegas Golden Knights are built to win right now.
Boasting one of the most talented rosters in the NHL, the Vegas Golden Knights haven’t missed a beat since bursting onto the scene in 2017.
Despite forming a team made up of other teams’ undesirables, the Golden Knights made a stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18, losing to a better and hungrier Washington Capitals team in five games.
Then, having developed a taste for success, the Knights also added an aggressive streak by pulling the trigger on blockbuster trades for stars Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, in addition to signing veteran top-six forward Paul Stastny in free agency.
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Such additions only served to heighten expectations while transforming the Golden Knights into a legitimate contender.
However, with expectations comes disappointment and Vegas suffered a crushing First Round exit to bitter rivals the San Jose Sharks in 2018-19, blowing a series lead before losing control in Game 7 following that controversial call on Cody Eakin that doesn’t need to be revisited.
This year was meant to be the revenge tour and, after finding their groove under Head Coach Peter DeBoer, the Golden Knights looked primed to make some noise in the postseason.
Then came COVID-19.
Whether the Knights will get the chance to finish what they started this year remains to be seen, and if they don’t then 2019-20 will forever be remembered as the year that could have been.
But, should the unthinkable happen and this season isn’t salvageable, then it will be just more fuel to add to the fire for the Golden Knights.
After all, great success can often come from the biggest falls and this team as it is currently constituted already has one big fire lit underneath them.
"“Every man at some point in his life is gonna lose a battle. He’s gonna fight and he’s gonna lose. But what makes him a man is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself.”Coach Eric Taylor (Friday Night Lights)"
Coach Taylor is spot on, as he was with most things, because we will all fail in life and we will all face notable setbacks.
However, it is how we respond to those failures that will dictate the future successes we go on to enjoy.
Just take a trip down memory lane and revisit the rich history of the National Hockey League and you will find a slew of examples of teams using failure as a springboard to greatness.
Take the New York Islanders who, before carving out one of the all-time dynasties by winning four Stanley Cups in the 1980’s, had suffered significant postseason hurt.
The same applies to that great Edmonton Oilers juggernaut of the 80’s who were swept by the Islanders in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final.
We all know what happened next.
Then you have the Boston Bruins who, before winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, blew a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Second Round, including blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 7 the year before.
But, those three teams are forever linked in the rich tapestry of this beloved game of ours because they used ultimate pain to propel them to euphoric glory.
They learned from their darkest moments and became stronger from all the bumps and bruises sustained in previous years.
Those teams became hungrier because of all the failure they had suffered through, resulting in a wounded animal that would not be easily defeated again.
And that’s where the Vegas Golden Knights are right now.
While they shocked the sporting world by making a stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017-18, they were expected to get there again last year only to fall at the first hurdle in the most painful of fashions.
Those lofty expectations were perhaps even greater this season and, if hockey doesn’t return this year then the Knights will rightly feel that they have been denied an opportunity to achieve greatness.
But like those historic teams before them, the Golden Knights can use past hurt to propel them to future glory.
After all, the golden path to a championship is wrought with a myriad of challenges and it isn’t meant to be a linear path.
The road to glory is meant to present hardships and knocks because, if it was easy, everyone would do it, right?
No, greatness is intended for those who truly deserve it and the Golden Knights are currently standing on the precipice of achieving such immortality.
They have all the tools needed to have their name etched on that beautiful trophy, which in turn would forever immortalize them in the rich history of this beloved sport of ours.
So, whether they get the chance this year or not, the Vegas Golden Knights should take comfort from the fact that going through painful lows can be the precursor to something incredible.
They have taken the knocks, they have the war wounds to prove it and now is the time for the Golden Knights to use past failures as the fuel needed to take that next step towards ultimate glory.