I know the last thing on our minds when watching a professional hockey game is latex couture, medieval cosplay or capes, and swords. But the pre-game glory (and costuming) employed at the beginning of a Vegas Golden Knights’ home game are unprecedented in the annals of professional hockey. If you are looking for one of the very best live presentations of digital technology, playacting, and stage costuming, look no further than the opening minutes of Golden Knight hockey games when they happen at the newly built T-Mobile Arena on ‘the strip.’
Surely these days, sports, like music, is as much about feeding pop sensibilities as it is flicking a puck into a net or hitting a rebound off a backboard. We see sports stars rising in fame to become more blog-worthy then even our most popular actor or actress and branching out across the fields of fashion, music and even politics. The mix and match of our various pleasurable pursuits crisscrossing in the media are arguably at a high water mark. But add a dash of what Las Vegas is most known for (not gambling or “girlie shows”) but over-the-top theatrical displays one shouldn’t be surprised what the Golden Knights are presenting currently to the masses.
As a castle façade at the top center of the arena was lit for the beginning of the first game this week an opening announcement declared: “Conquering enemies by land, sea, and air, the West belongs to Vegas.” What followed was actors in medieval costumes playacting shooting flaming arrows cross ‘across’ the ice in digital visuals brushing across that same smooth surface, and skaters in red capes (representing opposing team, the Washington Capitals in this case) facing and losing to a golden knight in full armor center ice. Oh, and let’s not forget a catapult that seemingly shot across the ice to scatter (again via stunning digital visuals) Capital stand-ins. Or the drum core, lit from their tom drums and visors, beating out a tribal call at the beginning of the show. Or lastly, an inflatable huge red knight’s helmet descending from the ceiling for the players-of both teams-to come skating out of to start the game.
The Vegas Golden Knights started to play just this past 2017–18 NHL season; the team hadn’t existed before 2017. They made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs against 500-1 odds.