The National Hockey League’s latest expansion team has played only six games and is already turning heads. The Las Vegas Golden Knights started their 2017-18 campaign, their first ever, with a 5-1-0 record, matching the best inaugural record in the league’s history. You have to go back 100 years to find an inaugural team that started with such a record, the 1917-18 Montreal Canadiens, who set the record during the first ever season.
So far, the Golden Knights have a 5-1-0 record. They already have 10 points, and are second in their division right behind the LA Kings who have a perfect 6-0 record. They won their first three games, one against Dallas and back-to-back wins against Arizona, before losing to the Red Wings. But they bounced right back, beating Boston and Buffalo in the following two games.
We won’t judge the Golden Knights by their first few games, and won’t make any rash predictions about the rest of their season. But we can’t deny that they’ve already accomplished something only one other team has been able to do, and we will take a trip down memory lane to see what other expansion teams in recent history did during their first ten games in the league.
Expansion year: 2000
The Minnesota Wild were one of two teams to join the league in 2000, marking the return of a team to Minnesota seven years after the North Stars left for Dallas. The Wild lost their first game of the season 3-1 to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. They went 1-6-3 in their first 10 games, and didn’t win their first game until game six of the season when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5. It took the Wild until close to Christmas to reach ten wins.
Minnesota finished their first season with a record of 25-39-13-5, good for 68 points and 5th place in the Northwest Division.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Expansion year: 2000
The Columbus Blue Jackets were the second team added in 2000. They fared a bit better than the Wild, but not much better. The Blue Jackets were 2-7-0 after their first ten games, and were able to mark their first W after the third game of the season, a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. They gave up more than five goals four times during those first ten games, even allowing seven goals to the LA Kings during their second game. They finished their inaugural season with a 28-39-9-6 record and in fifth place in the Central Division.
*The two expansion teams later in the season in back-to-back games. The Blue Jackets won the first game at home 3-0 while the Wild won the following game on their home ice 3-2.
Expansion year: 1999
A lot has happened in the relatively short history of the Thrashers. They became the league’s 28th team, and brought hockey back to Atlanta 19 years after the Flames left the city. Atlanta went 2-5-2-1 in their first 10 games, dropping their first three games at home to the New Jersey Devils, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres before finally defeating the New York Islanders on the road. Just like the two teams ahead of them on this list, they finished at the bottom of their division, with a 14-57-7-4 record and 39 points.
Unfortunately 12 years after the Thrashers hit the ice for the first time, they moved to north of the border, becoming the Winnipeg Jets.
Expansion year: 1998
The Nashville Predators made it to their first Stanley Cup Finals last season, the 2016-17 season, eventually losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.Their Stanley Cup run comes less than 20 years since the Predators were added to the NHL, and was the tenth time Nashville made a playoff appearance (and the farthest the team has made it into the postseason).
After ten games, Nashville had a 3-6-1 record, after beating the Carolina Panthers during their second ever game, but didn’t win again until their eighth and ninth game against the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche.
They too finished at the bottom of their division, wrapping up their inaugural season with a 28-47-7 record and 63 points.
Expansion year: 1993
Two more teams were added to the NHL in 1993, the 25th and 26th teams, both in cities with warmer weather climates. Let’s start with the Florida Panthers, who play just outside of Miami, had a 2-5-3 record in their first ten games. They won their first game fairly early on, during their third game of the season against another Florida team, the Tampa Bay Lightning (who were playing in only their second season), and their next win came two games later, against the Ottawa Senators. They finished the season with 83 points, in fifth place in the division with a 33-34-17 record.
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim
Expansion year: 1993
The second team added in 1993 were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, now simply known as the Anaheim Ducks. They had a 2-6-2 record after ten games, losing four in a row after two wins and two tied games (they’d go on to lose a few more before finally breaking the streak after six losses). They played their first five games at home, but only won one of those games against the Edmonton Oilers (they lost their first two and tied two more).
They finished fourth in their division, ahead of both the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers, who both failed to win more than 30 games.
Expansion year: 1992
In 1992, the NHL introduced two more teams, the 23rd and 24th teams in the league. The Ottawa Senators made a comeback, entering the league again after playing in the NHL from 1917-34. The Senators started their second coming with an incredible win, beating the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 at home. But then everything went south, and they lost the following nine games before finally tying the Buffalo Sabres. They didn’t win another game until the 23rd game of the season, a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
The Senators won only ten games during their inaugural season, finishing at the bottom of not only their division, but with the worst record, 10-70-4.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Expansion year: 1992
In 1992, the Tampa Bay Lightning became the first hockey team in Florida. Of course a year later the Florida Panthers joined them. The Lightning did a bit better than the other team introduced in 1992, winning 25 games throughout the season, and also won their first game of the season, beating the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. They won four games in their first ten appearances, better than any other team on this list. Unfortunately for their fans, their winning became more and more sporadic as the season went on.
Tampa Bay finished the season with a 25-54-7 record, 53 points and at the bottom of their division.
San Jose Sharks
Expansion year: 1991
The San Jose Sharks became the NHL’s 22nd team. Unfortunately for San Jose fans, their inaugural season didn’t start as well as they’d hoped, claiming only a single victory over their first ten games and losing the other nine. But beyond those first ten games, the Sharks lost 13 games in a row, before they finally beat the Edmonton Oilers (which seems to be a theme for expansion teams).
The Sharks finished at the bottom of their division, with a 17-58-5 record and only 39 points.
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