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LAS VEGAS (AP) Just before the most improbable of Stanley Cup Final in the most improbable hockey city around Adam Cracknell Jersey Womens , Gary Bettman and Bill Daly put on a little show of their own.As lounge acts go, it probably wouldnt play on the Las Vegas Strip. Then again, no one ever thought the Vegas Golden Knights would be playing on the Las Vegas Strip and certainly not as late as Memorial Day.But play they did, in a wild 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals that officially ended with Elvis singing Viva Las Vegas and the Golden Knights taking a 1-0 lead in the series.The greatest expansion team ever against a classic underachiever was already a story that has played well even among those who wouldnt think of watching anything but playoff basketball this time of the year.But a thrilling Game 1 couldnt have been scripted any better even if Bettman and Daly had spent their pre-game writing it instead of sitting in front of the media, sharing laughs and a few inside jokes. They completed each others sentences, and seemed to be having so much fun that they didnt want to leave.And why not? They could have taken a victory lap outside the T-Mobile Arena and no one would have seemed to mind.They are the architects of NHL expansion, the gatekeepers who decide which cities are in the league and which cities must watch fr om the sidelines. They came up with the plan hatched privately a decade ago for billionaire Bill Foley to pay $500 million to put a team among the gamblers, degenerates and, yes, upstanding citizens of the city where fun never stops.They then made sure it would work, despite all the naysayers who said hockey would never catch on in the desert and certainly not in a city where there are a lot of other things to do than watch hockey players race up and down the ice.But even the top league execs didnt expect this.No one saw this coming, Bettman said.They didnt in New York, and they didnt in Las Vegas. A generous expansion draft helped set the Knights up to be competitive, but competitive doesnt mean scoring 109 points in the regular season and then going 13-3 in the playoffs.Competitive doesnt mean taking the ice on Memorial Day with nearly 19,000 crazed Knights fans cheering them on inside the arena on the Strip and thousands more partying as the game unfolded on big-screen TVs outside.It was, as Bettman pointed out, 342 days since the expansion draft in the same arena. And what a 342 days it has been for not only the new franchise but a league that took a chance on Sin City when no other league would.Bettman and Daly rolled the dice that Las Vegas would raise the leagues profile and not just because it isnt, well Wayne Simmonds Jersey , Columbus or Ottawa.We thought being in Las Vegas would give hockey a greater presence and make the game stronger, Bettman said.The results, at least so far, show that bet paying off. Las Vegas has gone mad over the Golden Knights, and hockey is thriving in a town wh ere most ice is made for drinks, not rinks.And the NHL is on a bit of a roll itself. The controversial decision not to halt play during the middle of the season for the Olympics paid off in increased attention for professional hockey and television ratings for the playoffs, while not nearly up to NBA levels, are up across the board.And so far no one has said a word about the evils of sports betting and how a major sports franchise cant exist in a city that allows it.This commissioner wasnt scared by the things other sports leagues may have been scared about, Daly said.No one, of course, could have expected a hockey team to help heal a city in the wake of the Oct. 1 massacre that killed 58 people just down the street from the hockey arena. But the Knights helped that cause, too, adopting the Vegas Strong name and honoring victims not only at the opener nine days after the shooting but at games since.The players who call themselves the Golden Misfits have also done their part, both on and off the ice.They seem to be playing with the emotion of a higher purpose, Bettman said.Thats one reason why the bookies had them favored to beat the Caps and win the iconic trophy before the first puck dropped in Game 1. So far theyve not only run through every obstacle in their way, but smashed through them.Good times in Las Vegas, and good times for the NHL.Little wonder that Bettman and Daly couldnt stop smiling.-Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg DALLAS (AP) The Ottawa Senators are dealing with crisis after crisis at every level.Former captain Daniel Alfredsson called for owner Eugene Melnyk to sell the team, assistant general manager Randy Lee is suspended pending his court date on a harassment charge Womens Bryan Rust Jersey , and 20-goal scorer Mike Hoffman was traded amid an off-ice dispute with captain Erik Karlsson, whose own future is uncertain.Thirteen months ago, the Senators were a goal away from the Stanley Cup Final. Now theyre in turmoil.Through adversity we find peoples true character, general manager Pierre Dorion said Thursday. We find out who wants to be with you in a war in tough times. Its great when people want to be around you when youre a goal away from getting to the Stanley Cup Final, but we really find out about peoples true values and true character and real integrity when its difficult situations. All I can say is we at the Ottawa Senators, we have great people.As if Alfredssons pointed criticism wasnt enough, Lee was charged with second-degree harassment after allegedly making lewd comments and rubbing the shoulders of a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver at the scouting combine. Add to that, Melinda Karlsson filed an order of protection alleging harassment and cyberbullying against Hoffmans fiancee, Monika Caryk, for posting hundreds of derogatory online messages about her and her husband.One of these crises would be enough to challenge an organization, let alone them piling up. Fans in Ottawa are unhappy with Melnyk, who mused about moving the team and infamously said hes not going to blow a lifetime of working hard on a hockey team.Its hard work now for Dorion and the front office to get things back on track. He began earlier this week by trading Hoffman to San Jose, a deal that he explained as a way to fix team chemistry and character.Trading Mike Hoffman was something that we needed to do, Dorion said. Our dressing room was broken. We have to have a dressing room that wants to win together. Key components for us moving forward are character, leadership, accountability, and were very happy with the return we got on Mike Hoffman.The return of forward Mikkel Boedker and the fact that the Sharks flipped Hoffman to Florida to clear salary-cap space was almost inconsequential. The relationship between two of Ottawas top players seemed irreparable after Karlssons wife said in a sworn statement that Monika Caryk has uttered numerous statements wishing my unborn child dead. The Karlssons first child, a son named Axel Josh Jooris Jersey Womens , was stillborn in March.Dorion said no players came to management last season to talk about any concerns. But something was wrong for Ottawa to go from a playoff contender that was difficult to play against to 28-43-11 and second-to-last in the NHL.We finished in 30th place last year, Dorion said. There is great room for improvement.On the ice, Dorion hopes a full season with center Matt Duchene and an influx of talent including the player sel ected fourth overall Friday night will make the Senators competitive again. He refused to speak about Karlsson, the elite puck-moving defenseman who could become a free agent in the summer of 2019 and on whose shoulders the franchises best hopes rest.Dorion said only the Senators have a good game plan and could table a contract offer to Karlsson as soon as July 1. He wouldnt comment as to whether trading Hoffman might help the cause of re-signing Karlsson and didnt want to commit to a rebuild or a retooling effort or label the front offices direction.People like to brand things, Dorion said. Whatever direction were going, we need core players to be part of that. You cant just put a bunch of young kids on a team. You need core players.Lee has been a key part of the Senators front office for decades, but hes not with them at the NHL draft because of his suspension ahead of a court date July 6 in Buffalo, New York. Lee pleaded not guilty to the harassment charges.We felt we made the right decision with Randy Lee, Dorion said. In 23 years with the organization theres never been an incident recorded. Its an on-going process. On July 6, Randy will have his due process, and from there we will re-evaluate.On the topic of Melnyk, Commissioner Gary Bettman said at the Stanley Cup Final that the Senators were not for sale. Any complaints about ownership, fr om Alfredsson or the fan base, are above Dorions head, but he said its on his shoulders to help get the Senators back to the playoffs and hopes he can convince free agents of the strong belief he has in the direction theyre going.Come to Ottawa, Dorion said. Were going to be a good team. We were really close a year ago. We had a bump in the road. We have good players. You can be part of this group that can be part of a good team and build toward a great future.
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