Hockey as a Desert Rose in Sin City

I was dreading my business trip to Las Vegas this past week. For starters, Monday’s temperature there was a hockey unfriendly 108 degrees. And please, spare me the “It’s a dry heat” defense. Pizza ovens harbor little humidity, and I don’t want to reside in those either. Mercifully, a cold front swept through some time on Tuesday, and by the time my plane touched down the desert had cooled by some 40 degrees and was being kissed by 25-30 mph breezes.
But I was also lodging at the Green Valley Ranch resort hotel. It’s stunning — in an ostentatious resort in Sin City kind of way — but my schedule allowed for no real fun. Let’s just say this property isn’t conducive to starched shirts, stiff business shoes, and nine-hour days inside, away from the sand-bottom pool hard by outdoor refreshment cabanas (plural).
There’s a minor pro hockey team in Vegas — the Wranglers, ironically a member of the East Coast Hockey League. They’re having themselves quite a season. Tonight, in Cincinnati, they meet the Cyclones in game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals. You’ll recall that Bruce Boudreau won a Kelly Cup with the Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999.
Thursday’s Las Vegas Sun bore a column by Ron Kantowski titled ‘High-sticking in June is just weird.’ I loved how his column began:

“It was 108 in the shade Monday — and the Wranglers were getting ready to play another hockey game.
One hundred and eight degrees. Hockey.
That had to be the strangest convergence of diametric entities since Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett.”

One of the Wranglers told Kantowski that before arriving in Vegas he’d never shot a puck in triple digit temps. Turns out, this is the first time in the history of pro hockey here that a team has played for a championship. The defunct Las Vegas Thunder of the defunct International League never made it to the Turner Cup finals.
In Friday’s newspapers there was talk of how a Wrangler Kelly Cup triumph wouldn’t likely occasion the outpouring of community enthusiasm that UNLV’s national championship winning golf team did a few years back. I know that this is a desert and all, and that golf thrives in warm weather climates, but a parade and screaming locals for a golf team? Did they parade down the Strip in golf carts?
The Wranglers are a Calgary Flames affiliate. Former Caps’ farmhand Chris Ferraro is rostered with the Wranglers, although he’s been out of action since a March 1 cheapshot-punch to the head.
The ‘E’ is 20 years old, and known mostly for its development of tough guys during that time. Still, it’s sent more than 350 players to the NHL. And things may be looking up for the league — NHL teams today are sending well regarded draft picks to develop there.
It was nice to see the local media cover the minor pro hockey team with the enthusiasm it has this week, and it made me wonder about the prospects of bigger things puck here. Las Vegas, after all, is a name you hear associated with a new NHL team. It is a sports-loving city — well, it’s at least a city that follows sports scores very closely!
Boxing of course reigned supreme here until about 1990, then that sport whithered. This made me think: could big-league hockey fill a bit of that sporting void?
There was a story in Thursday’s Sun about three minutes of silence observed Monday afternoon by the Wynn and MGM Grand casinos, in remembrance of the Sichuan earthquake. The memorial pause, it’s estimated, cost the casinos between one and two million dollars in revenue.
In a nook of the Green Valley Ranch’s sprawling and luxurious recreation area sits a secluded enclave known as the Pond. We’ll call it Area 69. It’s shrouded in nearly as much secrecy and intrigue. It’s a layout, a lair, for libertines. It’s where the free-spirited sunbathe sans a full compliment of swimwear. It’s partitioned off from the resort’s larger paradisical pursuits by thick shrubbery, a preponderance of palms, and angled cabana paneling that affords tantalizing glimpses of the overexposed within. Its organization and aura — from fancy waterfall to stylized seclusion to massage mattresses — fairly screams orgy at all hours.
Cursed cool temperatures!
I peered through Area 69’s peeping portals on each stroll past the bacchanalia, not because I’m a voyeur (in the strict technical sense) but rather because of the parlor’s novelty and allure relative to my typical business lodgings.
So Sin City has at least one frozen pond and one filthy one. They seem to coexist just fine.
So let’s talk about expansion.

This entry was posted in Minor Pro Hockey, National Hockey League, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Hockey as a Desert Rose in Sin City

  1. uncatim says:

    In triple-digit temps, how is the ice?

  2. Tyler says:

    Uncatim “In triple-digit temps, how is the ice?”
    Better then the Verizon center ice.

  3. NS2NOVA says:

    All the more reason that we should expect better at the VC.

  4. Gayla Coughlin says:

    At a beautiful hotel with no time for fun??? Should call me next time! A Spa massage in your room would have done a lot of good! No funny stuff…promise! Besides, the weather cooled way off by Thursday! Cool winds and rain! See ya next time!

  5. Scott says:

    Glad you were here in our sunny city! I’m a caps fan (and Richmond, VA) transplant to LV. The wranglers are a great show and I’ve enjoyed the few games I went to (especially when I realized Ferraro was the same Ferraro that suited for the caps a few games). I’ve also been impressed by the local coverage of the Wranglers. This is a city that gets behind things that it can “own”. I think a pro team could do pretty well – better than Phoenix, if you ask me. Anyways, if you’re ever here during the season give me a hollar and we’ll get together. Thanks for the post!

  6. Cathy W says:

    I stayed at the Green Valley for a conference. It is a beautiful hotel. The hotel conference area was separate from the casino so you did not have to walk through the casino except to get to the restaurants. How long are your meetings as I had time to do fun things even without a car. I took a cab to the Strip to see a show and I took a tour to Hoover Dam that had a pick up from the hotel. (The Wranglers only played the day I was leaving and I did not know what to do with my suitcase if I went to the game before heading to the airport so I did not go as the Green Valley is too far to go back and pick up a suitcase from hotel storage.)

  7. Bucky Katt says:

    Couple of years ago I was TDY at Nellis AFB for two weeks. I took in a Wranglers game (vs Alaska) while I was there…and the Las Vegas fans really back their team. I even have my authetic Las Vegas Wrangler’s jersey. 🙂

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