It was in June 15, 2016, Wednesday afternoon during the 2016 World Series of Poker (WSOP) that Daniel Negreanu had won the third cash of his summer. However, it was another non-poker-related news that day had really made Negreanu extremely ecstatic.
According to the Associated Press, Las Vegas is officially acquiring a National Hockey League (NHL) expansion franchise, given that prospective owner Bill Foley could manage to come up with the expansion fee which costs $500 million. The said team is expected to start playing in the 2017-2018 NHL season.
Canada-born Daniel Negreanu, who recently became a US citizen, is a self-confessed hockey fan. He grew up in Toronto, and so he is naturally a Maple Leafs fan. However, the team does not give him much to cheer for. But with Las Vegas adding a team, Negreanu states he gets the chance to root for two teams.
Negreanu said, "I've known for quite a while that we were going to get a team, but it's nice to now know officially that it will be implemented in the 2017-18 season. We did all the legwork, we have the money, built a state-of-the-art arena, and then we also did the hard ground work of getting 13,000 to 14,000 people to put down a 10-percent down payment on tickets for a team that didn't even exist. That shows a lot of dedication to this happening, and this is a good day for this city in so many ways. I think this will expand the community and bring us together in a real way."
Some people think that an NHL franchise in Las Vegas is not good in some ways. Well, it is the desert and hockey is not one of the sports that is popular in the community unlike in other places. Still, Negreanu believes it will work, "I wouldn't argue that the NBA wouldn't do better. It's more of a basketball town with UNLV being such a force and hockey being new. I would look at a city like San Jose. There was no hockey culture there, but it's a one-sport town and people fell in love with the game. I think that will happen here, and I'm not going to argue whether or not this was the best sport, but as far as the Southern cities that didn't do so well, I think of Las Vegas more like L.A., Anaheim, and San Jose. This is more California-based than Southern."
He also added, "We have the added benefit of tourism, glitz and glamor, and Vegas knowing how to do it right. Think this helps the league, too - having a team in Las Vegas - as it adds a little bit of panache to it. I think people are going to come out in droves, and I think it's going to do really well."
As with any additional team, the league usually goes through its expansion draft, and the teams shift a bit on their rosters, but the newest franchise will definitely play catch up to the rest of the league. It will certainly take years before Las Vegas can become a top team in the NHL, but Negreanu believes it will come true in the near future. He said, "I've spoken to the owner Bill Foley, and he's a smart guy and he wants to do this right. He's going to have an analytics team to look at the players that we want to have, and also understanding that you're not going to make the playoffs in year one. He has a three- to four-year plan to make the playoffs and then an eight-year plan to bring the Cup here. That's optimistic, of course, because that would mean that every young talent that you draft will be amazing, you build, and jell together, and win on your first try. I think it's exciting, and if he commits to a long term process, you're looking at three to four years before you're competitive."
Should all things go accordingly, what would Negreanu do if his favorite Las Vegas NHL team is scheduled to battle in the Stanley Cup playoffs but at the same time he had a final poker table to get to?