NHL Playoffs 2018: Even Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley didn't expect team's succes

A favorite pastime of NHL fans of late is to point out that no one expected the Vegas Golden Knights to be in the Stanley Cup Finals. There are people summoning Freezing Cold Takes to threads on Twitter, asking the account to drag those responsible for underestimating Vegas through the mud (when the account itself even admitted that doing so is hardly fair because the Knights' story is ridiculous). 

Analysts, however, aren't the only ones that doubted Vegas in the preseason. How much can we blame people for being shocked an expansion team with 500-1 preseason odds is competent -- let alone a Stanley Cup Finalist -- when not even their owner saw it coming?

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley wasn't thinking about the Golden Knights as a competitor before the season. He said as much in an interview with ESPN nine months ago to the day as of Monday.

"We don't have high expectations for this year," Foley told ESPN in August. "We're going to be competitive. If we're going to lose a game, we'd like to lose by a goal or two, not lose by five or six. We don't want to be a walkover team. We want to be competitive, we want to be entertaining on the ice, we want to score some goals."

Not only did Vegas "score some goals," it finished fifth in the NHL with 268 on the season. Marc-Andre Fleury has shown time and time again that he's a Stanley Cup-caliber goalie, and the Golden Knights are everyone's Cinderella Team.

Foley wasn't done talking about his squad, however. On the subject of runs, he gave the rare pessimistic prediction.

We have some really good players, but we're not deep like a lot of teams are in terms of four lines of forwards and two or three lines of defensemen. But we got some really good players in the expansion draft. So we just need do well for a couple years, then make the playoffs in three years as we start transitioning in some of these younger guys -- like Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch and Jake Bischoff. We'll be pretty good in three years and we'll make a run in five or six. 

The Golden Knights ended up being one of the deepest teams in hockey, with three lines capable of wreaking havoc. Theodore and Tuch were immediate contributors this year, while Jonathan Marchessault has been one of the best players in the postseason. So the Golden Knights pushed up the time table, saying forget five or six years. We'll make a run in one.

The Golden Knights are now just four wins away from a Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. It's been a ridiculous year by any metric for the team, and now they're looking to close it out with an improbable championship. There's no question that Foley will happily eat his words when the season is done, regardless of the outcome in the Finals.

Our Latest Stories