U.S. Markets close in 59 mins

How a lifelong Penguins supporter became a diehard Golden Knights fan

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
The Las Vegas Golden Knights’ inaugural season has been quite the ride for Kevin Iole and his wife Betsy. (Al Powers/@powersimagery/T-Mobile Arena)

On Dec. 14, the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions against an expansion team less than three months into its first season.

Generally, that’s not a compelling game. It carried great significance for me, though. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and I have friends and family who still live there. On that night, I knew many people in the crowd, from both cities. I reunited that night with three high school classmates who I hadn’t seen in nearly 40 years. They’d traveled to Las Vegas from Pittsburgh to see the game.

I was asked repeatedly before that game who I was going to root for and my answer was always the same: The Penguins.

Of course, it was going to be the Penguins. You don’t really know me if you don’t know I’m a Penguins fan.

I love hockey and have loved it for as long as I can remember, from the time as a child I first went to a Pittsburgh Hornets’ AHL game before the Penguins joined the NHL in 1967. I attended the Penguins’ second-ever home game, bought season tickets starting in junior high with money I made caddying and selling newspapers and it would take an act of Congress to get me to miss a game.

Heck, even now, I have three basset hound puppies all younger than 18 months that I named Crosby, Malkin and Mario in homage to Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mario Lemieux.

I’ve lived in Las Vegas for nearly 30 years, which in the early days, meant it was difficult to watch hockey. When the Penguins first made it to the Stanley Cup final in 1991, the games weren’t shown on television in Las Vegas. Satellite dishes weren’t yet a thing, and so I went every day in the playoffs that year to watch the Penguins at the Las Vegas Hilton sports book.

The Hilton – now known as the Westgate – is a massive book with large screens that show all manner of sporting events. Hockey was so insignificant in Las Vegas in those days, though, that the finals weren’t shown on the big screens in the book. Rather, they were on a TV in a small room off the main book where a handful of people, including me, gathered to watch the games.

Minnesota North Stars’ Brian Bellows (23) knocks the goal net off its post after he was sent crashing into it by Pittsburgh Penguins’ Larry Murphy (55) as goalie Tom Barrasso guards during first period action of the Stanley Cup Game 6, May 25, 1991 in Bloomington, Minn. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

I cried tears of joy when the Penguins, who up until that point had generally been a doormat of a franchise, defeated the Minnesota North Stars 8-0 on May 25, 1991, to win the first Stanley Cup in their history.

As I write now, I look at my desk and I have one bobblehead of Sidney Crosby holding the Conn Smythe Trophy. I have ones of Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang holding the Stanley Cup. Of course, I have a Mario Lemieux bobblehead as well as a couple of replica Stanley Cups and I don’t know how many Penguins jerseys. Heck, I even have a Team Canada jersey from the 2014 Winter Olympics with the captain’s “C” on the front and “87 CROSBY” on the back.

Given my love for hockey, it was a no-brainer that I’d purchase season tickets when the NHL announced it had expanded to Las Vegas. I didn’t expect much; I figured the Knights would be mediocre, and would struggle to score goals, but I knew I’d want to watch the great players in the league do their thing, so I bought tickets.

On Oct. 1, I was at T-Mobile Arena for an exhibition game between the Knights and San Jose Sharks that began at 5 p.m. I went home after the game instead of out, and so I wasn’t aware of the tragedy that unfolded a block down the street later that night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

A madman shot hundreds of people, and killed 58, from a room in the Mandalay Bay. But given I didn’t turn the television on when I got home after the exhibition game, I didn’t know about the shooting until I started getting text messages the next morning that awakened me.

Friends and family around the world saw the news of the shooting and began to text me, asking if I were all right.

That tragedy, as horrific as it was, brought this community together. Las Vegas is a wonderful place to live, with many great people. The city is badly misunderstood and far different from the stereotypes about it.

Names of victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas are projected on the ice before an NHL hockey game between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

The Knights played a huge part in helping the town heal from the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. Right away, players went to donate blood and visit victims in the hospital and lend their support in whichever way they could.

On the night of the home opener, the team put on an incredibly touching tribute. The names of all 58 murder victims were displayed on the ice. The Knights treated the event with dignity and respect, hitting all the right notes. Defenseman Deryk Engelland, who has lived in Las Vegas for more than a decade after having played minor league hockey here, made a compelling speech to the crowd.

He ended by saying, “We are Vegas Strong.”

The crowd roared, and, at that moment, the Knights officially became Las Vegas’ team.

My journey was a bit more complex. Early in the season, the Knights were winning and playing an exciting brand of hockey. Contrary to my belief, they had no trouble scoring goals.

I wore my Team Canada jersey with Crosby on the back to the Dec. 14 game with the Penguins. By that point, I had become a Golden Knights fan, so I didn’t want to rub it in the Knights’ faces by wearing a Penguins’ jersey to the game. But by wearing the Team Canada/Crosby jersey, I was showing support for my team.

That night was goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s return after he missed 25 games because of a concussion. Fleury, of course, helped the Penguins win three Stanley Cup and became one of the most popular players in franchise history.

The Pens-Knights game was fun to watch, fast-paced with great plays at each end.

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blocks a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

With about five minutes to go and the Knights holding a 2-1 lead, Fleury made an exceptional save to keep the Penguins from tying the game. The crowd roared and I jumped out of my seat to cheer along with the Knights’ fans.

My wife looked at me and said, “I thought you were rooting for the Penguins.” After all Fleury had been through, falling behind Matt Murray in Pittsburgh and then battling the concussion here, I couldn’t root against him, though.

And I soon realized, I couldn’t root against the Golden Knights. I am from Pittsburgh, but I am a Las Vegan. This is my home. The Knights are my team.

I wear a Golden Knights jersey to every game. I have home and road Fleury jerseys, as well as home and road Nate Schmidt jerseys. I have a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare home jersey, which took me a long time to buy even though I quickly came to enjoy him as a player, because he’d played previously for the Flyers and, well, if you’re a Penguins’ fan, you hate the Flyers. It’s just how it is.

I also have VGK jerseys for Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, James Neal, Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk and Shea Theodore. I have a VGK road jersey that has a captain’s “C” on the front, even though the Knights haven’t had a captain. It has “66 LEMIEUX” on the back and is a tribute to Mario Lemieux. When I had it made, it was going to be my way of showing my love for both teams.

I can’t wear it, though.

I’m a Knights fan and I have to support the Knights.

The transformation is complete. I’ll root for the Penguins against everyone else. Yes, I’ve screamed at the television as they’ve played the Flyers and Washington Capitals so far in the playoffs, and I’ll root my heart out for them in every game they play.

But if the Penguins make it back to the Finals and the Golden Knights are there, there is no longer a decision to be made.

Go Knights go.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Jeff Passan: How 7 teams personify baseball’s ugly problem
Pirates rookie breaks 50-year-old record in debut
MJ’s teammate: LeBron has best body of work
Final grades: How did your team fare in NFL draft?

  • Finance

    Here's the tax bite on $1.6 billion Mega Millions and $620 million Powerball jackpots

    Strategies can be employed to reduce the amount of your win that is taxed, although they are best explored with the help of an experienced tax advisor. While it's anyone's guess who will end up winning the Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots, there's at least one guaranteed recipient of a chunk of the loot — the IRS. With the Mega Millions jackpot at $1.6 billion and Powerball's top prize at $620 million, that tax bill will be hefty even if the winner employs strategies to reduce their taxable income.

  • News

    Here's how much money you should have saved by 50

    Fidelity, the nation's largest retirement-plan provider, recommends having the equivalent of six times your annual salary saved. To get to that number, Fidelity recommends saving 15 percent of your annual income. Make sure to invest these funds instead of leaving them in a traditional low-interest savings account.

  • 5 Popular Marijuana Stocks I Wouldn't Buy With Free Money
    Motley Fool

    5 Popular Marijuana Stocks I Wouldn't Buy With Free Money

    Last week on Oct. 17, Canada lifted the curtain on nine decades of prohibition and legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Given the notable surge in pot stocks since the beginning of 2016, it's pretty evident that Wall Street and investors expect the industry to be a resounding success. With that being said, there are a handful of marijuana stocks -- some quite popular -- that I simply wouldn't buy, even if I were given free money to do so.

  • China Will Open the World's Longest Sea Bridge This Week. A Lot of People Are Unhappy About It

    China Will Open the World's Longest Sea Bridge This Week. A Lot of People Are Unhappy About It

    Later this week, the long-awaited 34-mile sea bridge connecting mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau will finally open. In a ceremony on Tuesday that Chinese president Xi Jinping will reportedly attend, the bridge will officially open. Some critics see the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge as an attempt by mainland China to tighten its grip on Hong Kong, which is an autonomous region.

  • Correction: CBS-Parsons story
    Associated Press

    Correction: CBS-Parsons story

    CBS Corp. says that Richard Parsons, its interim chairman, has resigned from its board because of illness. The media company named Strauss Zelnick, another media industry leader, as his replacement. CBS named Parsons interim chairman in September as it tried to reshape itself following the ouster of its longtime chief Les Moonves.

  • What the Market Missed in Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Results
    Motley Fool

    What the Market Missed in Kinder Morgan Inc.'s Results

    Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI) can't seem to catch a break these days. Despite its completing what management dubbed a "momentous" quarter, shares of the natural gas pipeline giant barely budged this week. It was a head-scratching outcome considering that its financial results came in well above its guidance, which the market seems to have completely missed.

  • Finance

    Cannabis Stocks, Led by Tilray and IGC, Get Taken to the Woodshed

    U.S. stocks were mostly lower on Monday, Oct. 22, and cannabis plays weren't immune with some of the biggest names dropping double digits. The S&P 500 was declining for the 11th time in 13 sessions while the Dow Jones Industrial Average also was

  • Finance
    American City Business Journals

    Microsoft's typical worker makes $168K a year — how that compares with Facebook, Google, PayPal, Box, Salesforce, Intel and other big Bay Area tech employers

    Microsoft Corp. is the latest major Silicon Valley tech employer to reveal just how much its typical employee earns — and how that compares with its top executive. The software giant's median employee pay — almost $168,000 — is high, even by Silicon

  • This Warren Buffett Stock Is Dirt Cheap Right Now
    Motley Fool

    This Warren Buffett Stock Is Dirt Cheap Right Now

    Warren Buffett has amassed a large portfolio of bank stocks for Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A) (NYSE: BRK-B) with major holdings in Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), and American Express (NYSE: AXP), just to name a few of the most well-known and largest investments. Synchrony is a major issuer of store-branded credit cards and also operates a rapidly growing online banking platform.

  • Teen shoppers flocking to 90s-era brands, new study says
    CNBC Videos

    Teen shoppers flocking to 90s-era brands, new study says

    Erinn Murphy, Piper Jaffray senior research analyst, discusses her firm's study on spending among teens and which brands hold the most weight among young shoppers and consumers.

  • Analyst downgrades Harley-Davidson, suggests legitimate Trump impact
    American City Business Journals

    Analyst downgrades Harley-Davidson, suggests legitimate Trump impact

    A Wall Street analyst believes President Donald Trump's comments about Harley-Davidson Inc. have legitimately damaged the Milwaukee motorcycle company's bottom line. Gerrick Johnson, an analyst with BMO Capital Markets, published a report Friday that downgraded Harley-Davidson's stock (NYSE: HOG) from outperform to market perform and slashed his price target for the company from $52 to $45 per share. Harley-Davidson, which was trading around $39.20 per share late Monday morning, will report its third quarter earnings Tuesday morning.

  • Advanced Micro Devices: What the Recent Sell-Off Implies
    Market Realist

    Advanced Micro Devices: What the Recent Sell-Off Implies

    After years of silence, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) stock gained momentum in 2016. Growth came as AMD started gaining market share in the PC and server CPU (central processing unit) and GPU (graphics processing unit) markets from Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA). AMD’s growth spree was affected by the recent stock market sell-off on October 10, triggered by the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike.

  • Better Buy: CRISPR Therapeutics AG vs. Intellia Therapeutics Inc.
    Motley Fool

    Better Buy: CRISPR Therapeutics AG vs. Intellia Therapeutics Inc.

    Looking for a way to invest in the "biggest biotech discovery of the century" -- CRISPR gene editing? Two of the top candidates are CRISPR Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ: CRSP) and Intellia Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: NTLA). Both biotechs are focused on harnessing CRISPR gene editing to fight disease.

  • 3 Dividend Stocks to Fund Your Retirement Nest Egg
    Motley Fool

    3 Dividend Stocks to Fund Your Retirement Nest Egg

    Dividend stocks play a key role in a good retirement portfolio, but investing indiscriminately in companies just because they offer a big yield or have a recent history of payout growth will likely cause your portfolio's performance to fall short of its

  • Finance

    Dow Drops 142 Points Because the U.S. Is Not China

    STOCKSTOWATCHTODAY BLOG 10:03 a.m. That didn’t take long. After opening up this morning, the three major index’s have slipped into the red. The S&P 500 has dropped 0.6% to 2751.32, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has declined

  • Why Sears Holdings Corp. Stock Slipped Today
    Motley Fool

    Why Sears Holdings Corp. Stock Slipped Today

    In bankruptcy, Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) shares continue to jump up and down just as they did leading up to the Chapter 11 filing. Sears' shares surprisingly rose last week in the sessions after declaring bankruptcy as the stock doubled from Oct. 15 to 17 in a move likely driven by speculators and day traders. There was little company-specific news out on Sears today, though the stock should remain volatile as bankruptcy negotiations play out.

  • 3 Dividend Stocks That Pay You More Than Coca-Cola Does
    Motley Fool

    3 Dividend Stocks That Pay You More Than Coca-Cola Does

    With a better than 50-year history of paying dividends, Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) is seen as an icon of stable, strong, secure payouts. Although Coke and its dividend are not in trouble, there are better investments to be found. Three stocks that these Motley Fool contributors particularly like are Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV), and MGM Growth Properties (NYSE: MGP).

  • Former General Electric vice chair on the company's futur...
    CNBC Videos

    Former General Electric vice chair on the company's futur...

    Beth Comstock, Nike board member and former vice chair of General Electric, weighs in on the future of General Electric under new CEO Larry Culp.

  • Investors Dumped Cannabis Stocks after Legalization Last Week
    Market Realist

    Investors Dumped Cannabis Stocks after Legalization Last Week

    Cannabis Stocks Getting Dumped after Legalization? Cannabis sector Last week, the overall cannabis sector ended in negative territory. The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF (HMMJ) lost almost 5.4% of its value, while the Emerging Marijuana Growers

  • Frustrated GM investors ask what more Mary Barra can do

    Frustrated GM investors ask what more Mary Barra can do

    General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra has transformed the No. 1 U.S. automaker in her almost five years in charge, but that is still not enough to satisfy investors. Ahead of third-quarter results due on Oct. 31, GM shares are trading about 6 percent below the $33 per share price at which they launched in 2010 in a post-bankruptcy initial public offering. The Detroit carmaker's stock is down 22 percent since Barra took over in January 2014.

  • Business

    Two tech stocks to buy and one to avoid heading into busiest week of earnings

    "Amazon AMZN , Google GOOGL , Microsoft MSFT — we like and own all of these, and one of the things that all three have in common is that they're huge players in cloud computing and that space is going to continue to see accelerating growth over the next several years," Tepper told CNBC's " Trading Nation " on Friday.

  • Why AMD Stock Fell 11% on October 19
    Market Realist

    Why AMD Stock Fell 11% on October 19

    Semiconductor (SMH) stock Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) fell 11.1% on October 19 to close trading at $23.66. New Street Research analyst Pierre Ferragu has a 12-month price target of $18 for AMD. Ferragu stated, “AMD’s stock price reflects a scenario we don’t believe possible.

  • Suze Orman has a killer question for your retirement

    Suze Orman has a killer question for your retirement

    Suze Orman is one of those singular personalities in the financial business who seems to be right on the pulse of everyone she meets. She’s written books, starred in her own television show and made innumerable appearances in person. Like Oprah

  • Which Canadian Marijuana Stock Will Enjoy a Bigger Bump From Its NYSE Listing -- Aphria or Aurora?
    Motley Fool

    Which Canadian Marijuana Stock Will Enjoy a Bigger Bump From Its NYSE Listing -- Aphria or Aurora?

    Maybe Wall Street should be called "Weed Street." Big Canadian marijuana grower Canopy Growth listed its stock on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) earlier this year. Aurora Cannabis (NASDAQOTH: ACBFF) begins trading on the NYSE on Tuesday, Oct. 23. Aphria (NASDAQOTH: APHQF) filed last week to list its stock on the NYSE.

  • Here's Which Marijuana Stocks Investors Are Betting Against the Most
    Motley Fool

    Here's Which Marijuana Stocks Investors Are Betting Against the Most

    Canada's recreational marijuana market is now open for business. Some are confident enough that certain marijuana stocks will fall that they're putting a lot of money on the line expecting that's exactly what will happen. The marijuana grower's low stock float and wild swings over the last month have received a lot of attention.