The second-year Thunder had it all for its opener in Vegas last Friday: a crowd of 12,604; center Radek Bonk the NHL's No. 3 draft choice in June, who returned to the I after failing to sign with the Ottawa Senators; Atlanta Brave pitcher Greg Maddux, a Las Vegas resident who had nothing better to do in October; third-string goalie Manon Rhéaume, hockey's first female pro; prospective employee McSorley dropping the first puck; and a 4-3 win over the San Diego Gulls. The tensest moment of the evening came during the national anthem when members of the 1950s singing group Lil Elmo and the Cosmos had to cover their foot-high pompadours with their hands when the fireworks went off.
In Atlanta's home opener on Saturday, the Knights skated onto the ice through a huge replica of the Turner Cup to celebrate winning last season's championship. The Knights beat the Houston Aeros 6-5 before 14,546 but didn't score on the designated power play that would have entitled each fan to a whole pizza for just $4.99.
"This is not the NHL," Adler says, "and we're aware that all the players really want to get to the next level."
Maybe now. But next year how will you keep them off the farm after they've played Par-ee?