June 6, 2018 / 11:48 PM / 13 days ago

Vegas Golden Knights' wild pre-game show shakes up league

(Reuters) - The Vegas Golden Knights’ wild pre-game skits, where on-ice actors fly from the rafters and enact elaborate battle scenes, have gained almost as much buzz as the team’s unlikely run to the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season.

FILE PHOTO: A general view as the Vegas Golden Knights take the ice before game one of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., May 28, 2018. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Before their first Western Conference Finals home game against the Winnipeg Jets, an armored knight split a giant jet projected onto the ice in half with a sword, sending the crowd into a frenzy usually reserved for goals.

Before Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, performers in Caps gear acted as invaders who took to the ice as a narrator darkly warned that they were there to attack the team’s “fortress.”

The sinister-looking Caps actors clashed with an army of knights deployed from the team’s in-arena castle until the lead knight defeated the Caps leader and sent him flying skyward.

All of the skits lead up to a giant helmet billowing red smoke that drops from the ceiling before the team skates out of it to a deafening roar from the packed crowd at T-Mobile Arena, which is located just off the famous Las Vegas Strip.

“The number one thing we’re doing is enhancing our home ice advantage,” Jonny Greco, Vegas’ vice president of entertainment production, told Reuters in an interview this week.

“We want our team to feel supported and we want our fans to be proud.”

“It has been a lot of fun and there has been a high level of inspiration from this insane creative team I get to work with.”

Despite the home fans’ enthusiastic reaction to each new chapter of the pre-game saga, Greco said not everyone had been thrilled about the over-the-top productions in the traditionally-minded NHL.

“You have people who say, this is so crazy, this is so fun,” he said.

“But there are also people who are appalled by what we’re doing. They’re like, ‘You’ve ruined the sanctity of the game!’”

Love it or hate it, Greco said the creative team had no intention to slow down and were planning something special for Thursday’s do-or-die Game Five of the Stanley Cup Finals, as the Golden Knights trail 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“We’re shifting our open to one that is a little more parallel to the theme of the series right now,” he said.

“A big thing that we try to do is be fluid and react properly to what’s out there to create a home ice advantage.”

“We want to create an environment and put our fans in the right psychological place to be completely bananas for our team on Thursday.

“We’re creating something that should hopefully support that in every way, shape and form.”

“Hopefully it hits.”

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Ian Ransom

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