Golden Knights’ success enough to soften the most cynical Vegas GuysBy John L. Smith, CDC Gaming ReportsJune 11, 2018 at 8:00 pmI ran into the Vegas Guy just the other day. To my surprise, instead of his dealer’s black-and-whites he wore a Vegas Golden Knights cap and a replica of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s No. 29 jersey.You know the Vegas Guy. Why, you may even be the Vegas Guy.The Vegas Guy knows what day it is, pal. He knows the score and the bottom line. For that matter, he even knows how the cow ate the cabbage.He’s like Las Vegas. He never gives a sucker an even break. He gets the best of it. That’s because the Vegas Guy only backs winners.The Vegas Guy loved Jerry Tarkanian and his Runnin’ Rebels. He didn’t care all that much whether the coach was an outlaw or Mother Teresa. He just liked the fact his teams won, what, 90 percent of their games?But when the Runnin’ Rebels experienced a rare off year, the Vegas Guy bad-mouthed the team and swore off attending games at the Thomas and Mack Center.And when just a couple years ago a guy named Bill Foley revealed his long-term plan to have a National Hockey League team based in Las Vegas, the Vegas Guy laughed until tears ran down his face. The guy was crazy. Didn’t he know Vegas only backs winners? Didn’t he know the most popular use for ice in Las Vegas is in a margarita?But Foley persisted, persuaded the NHL to take a chance on an odds-against town, and that led to a shimmering arena on MGM Resorts International property and a major sports franchise Las Vegas could call its own.When he learned the team’s roster would be full of players left unprotected by the rest of the league, the Vegas Guy nodded knowingly. “See, they’ve got losers written all over them. The only thing they got from their old ballclubs was a bus ticket out of town.” And even when they showed early promise our local cynic wasn’t convinced it would last.He laughed again when Foley announced that the team would be called the Golden Knights. It would be coached by some guy named Gallant.“What is this, some fairy tale?” the Vegas Guy asked. “Maybe they should play their home games at the Excalibur? A team called the Golden Knights with a coach named Gallant, are you kidding? What, Prince Valiant wasn’t available?”Then, after the night of Oct. 1, with Las Vegas staggered to its core, the Golden Knights skated to the rescue. They paid nightly tribute to the fallen and played their hearts out for a heartsick community. That dedication was reciprocated. A relationship was born that pierced the collective cynicism of one of the most cynical places on the planet.But a funny thing happened on the way to a fairy tale ending. Against the talented Washington Capitals, a franchise that had spent more than four decades chasing a Stanley Cup, the Golden Knights were all too human. The home team lost at home despite the loudest fans in the league and enough theatrics and pyrotechnics to light up the Strip.At the risk of being mugged by Knights fans everywhere, I think it’s a good thing the team didn’t win it all in its first season. It would have made the feat feel too easy. We’d have become like those tourists who hit a jackpot or a string of lucky blackjack hands on their first trip to Las Vegas. We would have been chasing a high that might never come again and would never be happy just to experience the moment.If the Golden Knights help Las Vegas make the transition into a community in full, one which roots for a common home team and takes pride in Southern Nevada over distant hometowns scattered across the globe, then there will be something much greater to celebrate than the outcome of a hockey game.“Besides, there’s always next year, right?” the Vegas Guy says, a tear in his eye and a strange sensation swelling in his heart, one later diagnosed as a sudden case of community pride.Contact John L. Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.