2 - GOLDEN KNIGHTS: There is no one - not one person on earth outside of Knights players and staff - who thought Vegas would sweep the LA Kings in Round 1. But that's exactly what they did when Davidson, SK's Brayden McNabb scored the only goal in Tuesday's 1-0 Game 4 win over the Kings, enabling Vegas to get out the brooms. NBCSN's Jeremy Roenick said last night, "The Kings were the worst match-up Vegas could've drawn but no one in the NHL works harder or longer than the Vegas Golden Knights". Now, they're into the Final 8 and who could possibly deny that Vegas has a good shot to win the Stanley Cup in the first year? Head-spinning. I said it at Christmas and people thought I was nuts.
3 - BUT WHY?: Now THAT'S the most-interesting question. Other than goalie Marc Andre-Fleury, there isn't one star or household name on the Vegas roster. In fact, forward Tomas Tatar is the highest-paid skater at $5.3-million but he's been a healthy scratch as Head Coach Gerard Gallant juggles team chemistry. Why are they winning? Theorists suggest the players are rallying around the fact they are a band of outcasts, playing for pride under #VegasStrong, and their locker room is distinctly void of egos. What a remarkable concept. Hard work and pride = success.
4 - COPYCATS: Surely this is a blueprint any NHL GM would love to copy but the Knights may just be the perfect storm. Does Vegas's early success make the rest of the NHL look bad? Not really, but that's a matter of perspective. The nearby Arizona Coyotes continue to flounder around in the dark with seemingly years to have gotten it right so how could Vegas have pulled it together so fast? Answer: A proven GM who meticulously selected his management, scouting and coaching staff along with a marketing department who didn't overlook any detail, and worked its ass off. Luck had NOTHING to do with this.
5 - CHUCKY'S COMING: The Golden Knights go about their business with the NFL ominously looking over their shoulder. Billboards in Las Vegas blare: "The Raiders Are Coming", complete with a photo of new Raiders coach Jon Gruden. The Oakland Raiders are relocating to Las Vegas in 2020 and many are wondering what that will mean to the fortunes of the Golden Knights. If they keep winning, it may not mean a lot. The Knights are extremely lucky to have gotten a headstart but while everyone here is crowded around TVs watching the Golden Knights play, this still isn't a hockey town.
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Meanwhile that Country Thunder benefit concert in Saskatoon on April 27 will feature Dallas Smith, Brett Kissel, Gord Bamford, Chad Brownlee, Jess Moskaluke and the Hunter Brothers.
7 - HAWKS-BRUINS: The Nipawin Hawks lead the Estevan Bruins 2-1 in the Canalta Cup championship series after an OT win on Tuesday in the Energy City. Here's hoping you sports fans are paying a little more attention to the SJHL now. It's a tremendous league with excellent players who deserve the support and following. That's why we posted the SJHL Power Rankings on this blog all season long, with unfortunately little fanfare.
8 - DUB PLAYOFFS: That's junior hockey for ya. The Moose Jaw Warriors didn't show up in Game 7 of their second round series with Swift Current, and were spanked 6-0. "Potentially" the greatest team in Warriors history didn't get out of the second round and you know that stings. Will this affect Memorial Cup ticket sales? Would the organizers have preferred to see the Warriors in the Memorial Cup? We don't know because we don't hear a lot.
By the way what are the Pats practice plans over the next month? John Paddock spoke a little bit about it on Wednesday saying they've planned some exhibition intrasquad scrimmages and will play them in the evening, to match up with Memorial Cup scheduled game times. He told reporters he doesn't plan to play against any other make-up teams.
9 - RIDER PRIDE: Call this the calm before the storm. These are certainly slow times in the CFL but next week's Roughriders Florida minicamp will be the tipping point, touching off eight months of hysteria. I've got the Riders winning 13 games and capturing the West Division so it's going to be a wild summer (if it ever shows up). So when Zach Collaros and the boys take to the grass in Bradenton, FL next week, it'll be the start of something special. 620 CKRM's SportsCage will be broadcasting live from IMG Academy on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
10 - CONGRATS SCRUFFY: SportsCage co-host Mitchell "Scruffy" Blair was named the newest News Director at 620 CKRM on Monday, ending a months-long search. I'm not sure what that means for our talkshow, but I know it means Scruffy gets his own parking space and office. Way to go Mitch! Well deserved.