It’s Hockey—Not a Circus

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Okay, cut them some slack. Because the Vegas Golden Knights are an expansion team, they don’t know that Lord Stanley’s Cup is won on the ice, not by a carnival of medieval—themed nonsense. 

The Stanley Cup Finals are hockey’s greatest stage for showcasing its extensive talent. But instead of letting the sport’s pace and ferocity naturally set the tone over time, audiences at home (and at the arena) were twice treated to over-the-top circus spectacles.

Vegas showgirls situated along the glass on the visitors end during warmups. Photo: Dan Rosen

For most VGK games, but especially for games 1 and 2 of the Finals, the hockey world has suffered through its interminable fill of puck-drop delays; deadly catapults unleashing destruction in their wake;

fake swordplay; off-the-wall levels of ear-splitting decibels; lugubrious, over-the-top lineup introductions; screeching rally sirens; enemy fake blood on the ice; drummers a-drumming, while scantily-clad dancers gyrate to bone chilling and heart pounding noise masquerading as music; archers appearing to cut down outnumbered and vulnerable opponents; a discordance of mind-numbing and epileptic-inducing light shows; a supporting cast of WWE show boaters; and a highly partisan parcel of entertainers designed to froth the audience into a frenzy.

Just as bad: NBC, and next, NBCSN, allowed the pre-game to be hijacked. Or perhaps worse, the networks co-conspired with the entertainment powers to experiment on the hockey-savvy audience how much discordance could be endured at a given setting. Quick, someone summon the Special Counsel to intervene and investigate.

By the way, don’t tell me that all of the hot air disgorged by the carnival had no effect on the notoriously poor ice conditions for Games 1 and 2. Some clear-thinking “hockey people” even speculated that the carrying-on constituted a safety hazard for the players.

So, how are the Caps to respond? What should owner Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports & Entertainment do?

We certainly can’t top the surreal theatrics. But why would we want to?

Photo: Miranda Rosenfelt

Instead of trying to out-vegas Vegas, let’s do the opposite for games 3 and 4. Let’s show the audience and the sport what class looks like. Instead of buffoonery, let’s focus on veterans, on youngsters getting their first glimpse of hockey, on a respectful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, and tasteful player introductions that demonstrate sportsmanship, fair-play, and respect for the competition.

Quiet. Professional. Businesslike. Just like our Caps.

We are not bombastic bush-leaguers. Let’s prove it.

Jim McCarthy

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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10 Responses to It’s Hockey—Not a Circus

  1. DayOne Caps Fanatic says:

    Watching VGK in action this year …. It’s become really easy to dislike this team and franchise. Like a cheap-shot reincarnation of the 1970s PHI Flyers only without the history or class-acts. It would be DELIGHTFUL to defeat VGK and for this vile thug team to fade, quickly or slowly into oblivion

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      I, personally had my fill midway through the season. Everyone is trying too hard to make hockey work in Vegas. Let it be. If it can succeed, it will.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    A fair number of fans dislike them almost as much as they do the Pens. Granted, they have several ex-Penguins, including Fleury, so it’s easy for them to represent the Pens in the minds of some. And while I don’t necessarily dislike Vegas, given that they’re in a division where I have no real rooting interest, I dislike the idea of them getting an “Instant Championship” as in their first year. I had no problem with Vegas making the playoffs and getting through a round or two of the playoffs but Stanley Cup Finals and a 50/50 shot at the Cup in their first year. Too much. (My husband thinks their great success is a Bettman conspiracy.)

  3. Sam says:

    Hockey is the least watched professional national sport…. MLB,MBA, and NFL are easily twice as popular… if you really love hockey supporting the flamboyance of pregame shows, theatre off the ice, and expansions is the only way it will grow and not be a slight step above curling in interest of people.. or you may find the cup played for in one month of winter on a pond in the far north of Canada….

  4. Anonymous says:

    I agree! Instead of bringing celebrities let’s just continue to show out relentless respects to national heroes that are our military veterans! They are the true stars of our show! Vegas didnt even mention memorial day in game one! Let’s show how much we deserve it without over the top showmanship

    • FWC says:

      I don’t know what made it to TV, but there were multiple mentions of Memorial Day in arena during game 1 in Vegas. Game 2 also had the military fly over during the national anthem with the pilots getting a standing ovation in arena during the third period.

  5. redLitYogi says:

    One thing the Vegans have shown us is that their Gluten-free team is loaded with Jakob Vrana, Chandler Stephenson, and Christian Djoos types – players with potential that lacked only an opportunity. So in that sense, we see that coaches, besides wanting to just win now, should also focus on developing their talent and, in the cap era, to constantly be doing so.

  6. Pingback: Game 4 Preview: Capitals Look to Take Command of the Series in the Second Game At Capital One Arena | NoVa Caps

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