By the end of the Vegas Golden Knights’ four-hour celebration, which closed down the famed Vegas Strip in both directions, even coach Bruce Cassidy was dancing and drumming on the podium. By the end, many of the players had removed their championship t-shirts and tossed them into the crowd. As original Misfit William Karlsson said, they waited six years for this.
Tuesday, the Golden Knights quickly finished off the Florida Panthers in Game 5, 9-3, winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup and bringing owner Bill Foley’s prediction, “Cup in Six (years),” to fruition.
After a couple of days at owner Bill Foley’s Montana retreat, Saturday night was time to party with the fans.
After a two-hour parade on the Strip with double-decker busses, the podium celebration began with a big entrance by the team and the Stanley Cup, though in a comical sign of things to come, Karlsson slipped on the stairs. He immediately took off his shirt and tossed it into the crowd. You can also see Teddy Blueger draped in a Latvian flag and Adin Hill–wearing a Larry Johnson UNLV jersey–leading the chants. Once the players finally arrived after a two-hour parade down the Strip, things were off to a wild start:
Karlsson was the star of the show, hamming it up, chugging beers that fans tossed to him on stage. Sobriety may not have been his friend, but that only further endeared him to the crowd estimated to be a couple or a few hundred thousand. Karlsson gave the speech of the night that encapsulated the emotions of the fans. Leading off the speeches by the Misfits, he struck the tone of waiting six years.
Karlsson’s speech struck the notes that only an original could strike.
“This guy (Jonathan Marchessault), this effin guy, has been here since Day 1. And you have been here — Day f*cking 1. You guys are so amazing,” Karlsson said. “We played in Arizona the first game. We beat the sh*t out of them. And I had no points, but that’s OK, because Year One, I was pretty f*cking great, but you guys were greater. We’ve been on this journey … we’ve been waiting six long years for this guy to be MVP.”
Karlsson then gave the mic to Marchessault as William Carrier threw Karlsson over his shoulder and carted him away. It was a raucous party.
Karlsson and Marchessault began to steal the show from the earliest moments. One of the first celebration speakers, president of hockey operations George McPhee addressed the crowd, you can see the boys tossing each other over their shoulders, taking their shirts off, and chugging beer with fans.
It was that kind of night, and the fans could not get enough.
You can try to watch McCrimmon, as the guys were just getting started. That’s Marchessault being carried by Jack Eichel, Adin Hill wearing the Larry Johnson UNLV jersey, and Karlsson already wearing almost nothing.
Coach Bruce Cassidy was somewhat soft-spoken but then turned it up a notch when he led the capacity crowd in Toshiba Plaza with a “back-to-back” chant. Cassidy later loosened up further and was dancing with the Stanley Cup and drumming at the podium.
Captain Mark Stone is the emotional leader of the Golden Knights. If you don’t know what winning the Stanley Cup means, or what the team means to the city of Las Vegas, Stone’s speech was halted a few times as the captain held back tears.
The pauses only served to enthuse the crowd further. Mark Stone’s speech:
The finale was also fitting. If you watch the podium, you’ll see Cassidy dancing and drumming along to Viva Las Vegas. Karlsson almost fell off the stage, and the players were dancing with the Stanley Cup. It was a fitting end as streamers and confetti filled the air for the Vegas Golden Knights first Stanley Cup victory.
An organization built on a Misfit label has been a home for players and a coach needing a second chance. They delivered and the party was an epic conclusion that will stand out, even in a city known for parties.
Viva Las Vegas!