Q: With the Las Vegas Golden Knights advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season, how often does an expansion team usually play for a championship in their first season?
A: The 2018 Stanley Cup Final begins May 28, and the Las Vegas Golden Knights will be there.
This first-year magic is an incredibly rare thing. The Golden Knights are the first expansion team in all of sports, not just hockey, to reach the championship round since 1968, when the St. Louis Blues managed it.
Expansion teams, defined as a new franchise and started from scratch, usually face difficulties getting started. Part of the problem is the team doesn't have a roster of talented players ready to go for the season, so they have to participate in the expansion draft.
The expansion draft may have limited talent, which was apparently not the case this year. So, the teams face a tall order getting started.
Hockey fans in the newsroom shared their opinion that the St. Louis Blues of 1968 didn't face the same obstacles as the Golden Knights of today.
When the Blues were added as an expansion team, so were six other teams and there were only 12 total in the NHL. They played in their own division with other expansion teams.
As a result, the St. Louis Blues made the Stanley Cup finals the first three years of their existence. They didn't win, but they made it.
The Golden Knights were the first National Hockey League expansion team to be added since 2000, according to NHL.com. They entered a different world of hockey with a field of 31 teams.
Online hockey blogs are comparing the players of the Golden Knights now to the St. Louis Blues players in 1968. One of the more interesting parts of the analysis is the stellar goal-tending that both teams seem to enjoy.
They are also examining the differences in the money spent in 1968 compared to now in the cost of the venues, NHL membership and more. It's millions of dollars.