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On The Road Running Blog: Behind The Scenes With The Golden Knights

Get inside access as the Golden Knights hit the road for the start of preseason

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights /

 Sunday, September 24: 11: 36 AM (PT)

All aboard our plane.

Flying into Long Beach this afternoon. In all seriousness, this flight shouldn't take much longer than driving from McCarran back to City National Arena when we return tonight.

Long Beach is about 20 miles from Honda Center. In Southern California. So hopefully the traffic isn't too terrible.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying my plane window view of the Mandalay Bay before we take off.


Sunday, September 24: 10:47 AM (PT)

Almost thought I was going to miss the bus this morning. There was an accident/backup by the Charleston exit, and people were walking around on the road as we were gridlocked.

For me, i may have beeped a few times. Sorry, I was "that" guy.

In the NHL, you don't miss the bus. It doesn't wait, regardless of circumstances. We're all adults and expected to be on time. This is an important part of big league life.

I just made it. Parked at the Red Rock, motored through to where our bus was leaving from. All good now, off to Anaheim!


Friday, September 22: 12:25 AM (PT)

Even though tonight's loss was disappointing, it's always a reminder every time we return to Las Vegas how lucky we are to be Golden Knights.

As we travel throughout the league, just as many arenas are similar, many cities blend together as well.

Las Vegas, our home, is unique, however. And even for those of us that are still new to the team and the city, it feels special to call this place home.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: We're home��


Thursday, September 21: 10:41 PM (PT)

Not the result we wanted tonight. A 5-2 loss. The Sharks had three power-play goals and opened it up with four straight tallies in the second period.

On nights like these, you just want to get home.

After wins, even in preseason, the team bonds and the trips home see way shorter. After losses...just get me home and we'll get back at it tomorrow.

Just getting on the plane right now.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Back to Vegas ������


Thursday, September 21: 4:40 PM (PT)

Landed about a half hour ago. It's a really quick drive from the airport to the arena in San Jose. Not quite McCarran to T-Mobile Arena quick, but still, pretty quick.

San Jose is pretty suburban looking compared to nearby San Francisco and Oakland. From my experiece, San Jose is always super quiet. Very nice, but a very calm, quiet city.

I like the rink, too. Opening shortly after the Sharks entered the NHL in 1991 (they actually started their first season at the ancient Cow Palace in Daly City, however), it's not what you would call an old building.

Except this was one of the final buildings built before the onslaught of new buildings began opening in the mid-1990s and 2000s. Although the newer buildings are all state of the art and beautiful, many of them are very similar to one another.

For example, I find St. Louis and Columbus to be very similar. Boston and Philadelphia have many likenesses as well, as do Pittsburgh and New Jersey. Except for the color paint on the walls and logo at center ice.

San Jose is different, however. With most of the great "old barns" now being closed, this and the Saddledome in Calgary are the two really "unique" buildings we still play in.

San Jose is known to have a very low roof and the fans are right on top of you. This generates some of the loudest crowds in the league, and is a very difficult place for visiting teams.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Looks like we knew the way to San Jose��


It's also one of the buildings I like to walk around in the catwalk of. That's a story for another day, though.

We have a couple hours until game time. See ya afterwards!

Thursday, September 21: 2:59 PM (PT)

Our flight was scheduled for a 3:00 PM takeoff. However, it's 2:59 and we're already up in the air.

We're early!

I know, it's only a minute. I more just find it amazing how Bronco, our team services guy, has an exact schedule plotted out a week in advance, and everything is always on schedule usually to the second.

Should be about an hour and 20 minutes to San Jose here. Going to catch some shut eye.

Who says grown men can't take naps?

Thursday, September 21: 2:00 PM (PT)

Bus has departed. Right on time. Nobody late.


Thursday, September 21: 1:47 PM (PT)

After a day without any games, we're back on the ice tonight against the San Jose Sharks. Since Tuesday in Denver, Vegas has cut 10 players from its training camp, while signing defenseman Dylan Coghlan. Coghlan, an undrafted junior player, earned his contract with a strong performance in Rookie Camp, after also looking impressive this summer in Development Camp.

Right now, though, we're off to San Jose.

Calvin Pickard is making his Golden Knights debut, while we'll also be seeing Nate Schmidt on defense for the first time.

Should be a fun one.

Our bus has arrived at City National Arena to take us to the airport.



Tuesday, September 19: 11:35 PM (MT)

Pretty quiet plane right now. For many players, it's hard to go to sleep right after a game. The juices get flowing so much that it takes time to scale it back down.

Some members of our hockey operations staff are asleep at the front of the plane, however.

One person not asleep is assistant coach Ryan Craig. Even with the cabin lights dimmed, we can see Craig's laptop open right now, analyzing film from the game tonight.

Craig's in his first month as an NHL coach. He played as recently as last season, when he was captain of the AHL's Cleveland Monsters.

Tuesday, September 19: 10:31 PM (MT)

No traffic tonight in Denver on the way back to the airport. Love it! Also loved the flawless internet access I was able to get on my HotSpot on the way back.

Bronco, our team services guy, runs a tight ship. 


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: ������out, Denver. Thanks for the good times������


And here we are, right on schedule taking off back for Vegas. Flight time will be about an hour and 50 minutes. Although by gaining an hour on the way home, we literally land about only 30-45 minutes after we land.

The hope is for us to arrive back at our cars at City National Arena at about midnight tonight.

Tuesday, September 19: 9:55 PM (MT)

Made it into the locker room. Had a nice chat with Brad Hunt, who scored another goal tonight and has four points (1G, 3A) in two games.


Video: VGK@COL: Hunt rips a slap shot top corner


Stay tuned on tomorrow for more.

Other than that, the locker room is starting to clear out. Some players are lingering in their stalls, chowing down on some postgame snacks.

Believe it or not, pizza is generally the postgame meal of choice in NHL locker rooms.

A few Golden Knights are intently sitting in their stalls and chowing down, while most of the team is still showering and getting their shirts and ties back on for the trip home.

In the NHL, it's always important to look your best!

Tuesday, September 19: 9:46 PM (MT)

Game just ended here in Denver and it was another fun one. Three Golden Knights goals in the game's opening 10 minutes kind of sealed the Avalanche's doom, even though the score ended up only being 4-1.


Video: Fast start paves way for Golden Knights' second win


Our team is now in fire drill mode.

Dan D'Uva, our radio broadcaster, is in the process of signing off the air. Myself, handling website and social media duties, am in the process of trying to squeeze out a few more website updates and tweets before packing up my backpack and heading into the locker room.

I always try to have some immediate reaction online before heading into the locker room. But with the locker room opening to media about five minutes after the final buzzer and being open for about 10 minutes, it really puts the pressure on me to move quickly. Especially when this also includes going from the very top of the building to the bottom.

But what I do is nowhere close to what our equipment managers do.

These guys are machines.

By the time I even get into the locker room, they've almost entirely packed all of our players' gear onto the bus.

Bus usually leaves for the airport 40 minutes after the game ends, so we're all moving quickly.

Tuesday, September 19: 4:02 PM (MT)

We just got to Pepsi Center 10-15 minutes ago. For those of you who have never been to Denver, the airport is probably farther from downtown than any arena in the league.

Also, for those of you who haven't been to Denver, there are no mountains in sight when you land. It often surprises visitors that Denver is only at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The Rockies begin immediately west of Denver, making the long drive from the airport to the arena mostly through flat land.

Looks far more like Kansas (which is immediately east) than how many people picture Colorado, although this sign at the entrance of Pepsi Center is quick to remind you otherwise.



We're in here for the night. Golden Knights against Avalanche. We'll have more after we begin heading back to Vegas right after the game.

Tuesday, September 19: 2:59 PM (MT)

Right on time. Although as we like to say, where are the Rocky Mountains?


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: We've arrived in Denver!We expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this?


For those of you not familiar with this, this is a quote from Dumb & Dumber.

Seriously, you should watch it if you haven't. It's 23 years old now, but the humor still holds up if you ask me!


Tuesday, September 19: 12:31 PM (PT)

Like clockwork, one hour.

One hour for our team to drive from City National Arena in Summerlin, arrive at the airfield adjacent to McCarran Airport, load our luggage onto the plane and take off.

Although to be fair. In preseason, we don't even stay the night in the cities we play in. So we don't have much luggage, other than the players' equipment.

Still, though. Way faster than having to go through security at the main terminal.

They've got a nice lunch served for us today.



Should be in Denver in less than two hours, although we'll lose an hour as we move to Mountain Time.

Tuesday, September 19: 11:31 AM (PT)

After a day where the Golden Knights skated at City National Arena but didn't play a game, we're back at it tonight in Denver.

Our crew just boarded our bus en route for the airport here. 

We'll be losing an hour as we travel east to Colorado this afternoon. So this game will be at 6 PM (PT), rather than 7. It's a 7:00 local time start in Colorado.

We're just leaving the airport, and the feel on the bus is a little different than Sunday. Vegas is dressing far more veterans this evening, so the tone today seems like today will be a far better simulation for the regular season than Sunday.

To see our full lineup, CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 17: 9:38 PM (PT)

We just got off our bus at the Red Rock Hotel. We'll all get in our own cars now and head home. That is except for many of our players who are still living here at the Red Rock.

We have a ceremony at City National Arena tomorrow, and our team will practice.

But we'll be back on the road on Tuesday when we play the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. Another preseason game.

Stay tuned for more!

Sunday, September 17: 9:07 PM (PT)


Heading off the plane, the warm dessert breeze feels so refreshing. Even for those of us with the team not from Vegas, the city's climate has definitely grown on us a bit. Especially after it was upper-50s and pouring in Vancouver.

Sunday, September 17: 6:37 PM (PT)

Wheels up, in the air for Vegas. Should be about two-and-a-half hours. We'll grab some dinner (chicken or beef) on the plane and hopefully be home before we know it.

This morning, the plane was quiet and businesslike.

Now, it's quiet and...just quiet!

It's been a long day and most of us are tired. So while we're all happy to have won, we can hear our home beds calling!

Sunday, September 17: 5:49 PM (PT)

This was not a fun drive back to the airport. It was pouring rain the whole way, and there was tons of traffic. Stop and go, mostly through residential streets more than highways. Seems like this was a drive that would never end.

Scoring nine goals and winning made it a lot better.

But also, we usually board our plane right from the runway. However, when returning to the U.S. from Canada (not vice versa) we are required to go through the airport to go through customs. Hopefully we'll get through as quickly as possible!

Sunday, September 17: 5:11 PM (PT)

Unforgettable game here in Vancouver! The Golden Knights won 9-4, which kind of speaks for itself. NINE GOALS!

With the game ending, we follow a routine, all of us, and it's very rapid fire. The team bus usually leaves the arena 40 minutes after the final buzzer.

For the players, they listen to a postgame speech from Gerard Gallant, conduct 10 minutes or so of media interviews, shower and get changed back into their suits for the flight home.

Our broadcasters wrap up their calls and sign off the air. Our website and social media platforms are updated. Our equipment staff loads up the gear onto the bus.

It's seriously like watching a fire drill.

Even if teams have off the next day, they usually don't stay over in a city afterwards. It's usually fly out, right out, as soon as possible.

Sunday, September 17: 11:16 AM (PT)

We're in the arena now until after the game. It starts at 2:00 PM. Catch everybody after!

Sunday, September 17: 11:11 AM (PT)

Our crew just rolled into Rogers Arena a little while ago.

It's funny how it works. We pull up in a bus in the bowels of the arena, and never really even see the city. Vancouver is one of the best in the league to visit.

Always a bummer when we don't get to see much of it. We won't even step foot outside other than getting off our plane and on it later today.

Good news is we'll be back twice this year. Thursday, November 6 and the final week of the regular season in April.

Sunday, September 17: 10:47 AM (PT)

Walking off of our plane, we could feel a light chill in the air. It's in the upper 50s in Vancouver today, and you can almost smell the sea air.

Our players, coaches and hockey ops boarded one bus, our business and media staff another, for the drive from the airport to the arena.

Today's the first TV broadcast on AT&T SportsNet, so we had a special surprise waiting for us at Rogers Arena.



Actually, we weren't really surprised��


Sunday, September 17: 10:08 AM (PT)

We've arrived in Vancouver, right on schedule.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: ������������


Sunday: 8:47 AM (PT)

We have a little bit more than an hour left on our trip.

The Good News: Wifi is free and actually works!

The Bad News: We just hit a little turbulence. Even for some of our most veteran fliers, flying can be a frightful experience when we start shaking around in here.

Turbulence lasted a few minutes. But we're back to normal now.

Glad I didn't order that burrito!

Sunday: 8:04 AM (PT)

The team is flying on a 747, although we are only flying about 50 people (not even…I still have to do a headcount).

There aren't a bunch of empty seats, though.

Every seat on this plane is set up first class. Even though we're on a large plane, allotting this much space for each seat quickly fills up the cabin. Although it's worth it with leg room to spare, even for 6-foot-4 defenseman Griffin Reinhart.

When we boarded the plane, there was a small pillow, with a Golden Knights logo on it, waiting for as at our seats. As were a couple bottles of water and a menu.



The plane staff offered everyone either organic yogurt or sliced fruit upon boarding the plane. Although breakfast is going to be served shortly, so why bother?

Choices for breakfast are scrambled eggs, grilled chicken or a breakfast burrito.

It seems as if most players have gone with the eggs.

 I went with the grilled chicken, served with a side of pasta and rice. After all, what's more pregame hockey than chicken and pasta?

All of the options are team approved, nutrition a focal point, to keep the players ready to perform at their best.

Sunday: 7:28 AM (PT)

Exactly an hour after our bus left the Red Rock, our plane is up in the air.

We left from the runway, and didn't have to go through security. Our shoes and belts stayed on, our electronic devices stayed in stow, and we never actually set foot in the airport.

Soooo nice to board a plane and not get stuck in a line that's held up by someone you don't know forgetting that shoes have to be taken off to go through security.

More NHL perks.

Sunday: 7:19 AM (PT)

We're all aboard our plane. Seating arrangements are pretty much the same as our bus.

Some might expect there to be a lot of nervous chatter, kind of how school buses often get a little rowdy when departing for a field trip, before settling into formation.

This isn't the case here, however.

Part of this is the early wakeup call. I woke up at 4:30 AM, for example.

The other part of this is that this is a business. The Golden Knights take a very business-like approach. There are a few polite conversations going on, but we're mostly quiet this morning.

Even though the team has never been here before, most of us have with previous teams or employers.

On both our bus and aboard our plane, there's very little noise. Most of us like it that way.

Sunday: 7:13 AM (PT)

Now that our coaches and hockey ops staff have departed the bus, the players get off.

Broadcasters and media staff always leave the plane last. Always.

Since we're departing from the runway, we board our plane differently than those flying commercial.


Tweet from @GoldenKnights: All aboard for Vancouver ������


Sunday, September 17: 7:04 AM (PT)

We have now arrived at our plane, and it's time to get off the bus.

The code here is that the team's coaches and hockey staff, seated at the front of the bus, get off first. Leading the way is team services. Team services is a field that primarily coordinates and schedules all of the team's travel and lodging accommodations.

Our team services rep is Rick Braunstein. Although everyone calls him Bronco.

Bronco is no stranger to new NHL teams in the desert. He was an original Phoenix Coyotes employee back in 1996, and was with that club all the way until earlier this year when he joined the Golden Knights.

Bronco just signed a few papers, signaling that everything's going as it should be.

Sunday, September 17: 6:53 AM (PT)

We've arrived at the airport. And many of our prospects are starting to get a taste for what NHL life is all about.

We're not flying out of McCarran Airport, but rather a private airfield adjacent to the primary airport.

Welcome to the NHL, rook��

To enter the airfield, a giant gate, with barbed wire on the top, has to swing open. We drive out onto the runway, parking about 10 yards from our plane. No security, no problem, as we board.

This is far different than how most of these players came up through juniors or the minors, where teams board charter buses for drives of up to 12 hours to play single games.

Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon, when serving as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, actually often doubled as the bus driver.

Sunday, September 17: 6:28 AM (PT)

Our bus is now off and going.

There's no established pecking order with the Golden Knights, so who is sitting where is a true hodgepodge. We'll see how this evolves as the season goes along, and we take more road trips with veteran players.

For the most part, not many Golden Knights veterans are on this trip. The team is dressing a very rookie-laden lineup today.

They have a lot in store for them that they've probably never seen before.

Sunday, September 17: 6:13 AM (PT)

Our hockey ops staff has boarded the bus. Not our entire hockey ops staff, mind you. That's almost 30 people, which isn't needed for an away game.

General manager George McPhee is here, as is coach Gerard Gallant and his coaching staff. Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon is here, Murray Craven is here and only a few others, and that's about it.

Teams run a tidy ship when they travel.

Sunday, September 17: 6:04 AM (PT)

Members of the team's business staff have begun boarding the team bus outside of the Red Rock Hotel, which doubles as the training camp home for many of our players.

Buses - and planes, by extension - generally have several unspoken rules at the NHL level.

For one, coaches and hockey ops personnel always sit in the front. This is how it's always been and how it will probably always be.

The team's business staff - mostly broadcasters and media folks - sit immediately behind the coaches. This is where sits.

Starting about 1/3 of the way back in the bus is where players begin sitting.

As pecking orders begin to be established with teams, who sits where typically becomes the same, whether there's officially assigned seats or not. It's usually determined by the veterans.

Veterans most commonly choose the seats in the back of the bus. It's kind of like the cool kids when you're in school who choose to sit in the back. Nobody can see what you're doing back there. There's also more privacy. I was never one of the cool kids, so maybe I'm just guessing here.

Right now, only our broadcasters and media staff are on the bus. There isn't much conversation. This is quite an early wakeup call, after all.

Sunday, September 17: 5:48 AM (PT)

The Golden Knights staff has begun arriving at City National Arena. The group will be meeting out here in Summerlin at our new practice facility, before flying out to Vancouver later this morning.

This routine will vary significantly from how things will work in the regular season. NHL teams seldom, if ever, fly into a city on the day of a game during the regular season. Preseason, however, is different, and this is how it generally works.

We'll be flying out at about 7:30 this morning ahead of this afternoon's tilt with the Vancouver Canucks at 2:00 PM.

At this point, there are only a few members of the team that are here.

As we look east, it looks almost like a postcard with a bright orange sun creeping out from over the mountains. It's still just dark enough to see the beam of light shooting out of The Luxor.

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