Hockey players for the Vegas Golden Knights have become notorious for something you don’t hear a lot about among professional athletes: humility.
"No, no, I’m no star, trust me," says Ryan Reaves, a league veteran who came to the team from last year’s champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
Reaves and other players are fielding a host of questions from reporters in the locker room in the basement of City National Arena, the Golden Knights' practice facility. It’s Tuesday morning and hundreds of fans showed up just to watch an hour-long practice.
William Karlsson is a bonafide star in the league this year, with one of the highest goal-totals among all players. He’s from Sweden, speaks with the slightest of accents, and is almost imperceptibly quiet.
His nickname "Wild Bill" is considered ironic.
"A star?" he replies, when asked if he feels like a star. "From time to time people want to take pictures. It’s nice, it’s good to see that hockey’s become a thing here, and that’s what I’m most excited about."
Coach Gerard Gallant, who played for well over a decade before becoming a coach, fields questions from reporters after the practice. And with almost every answer, no matter the question, he has a smile.
"That’s the way I’ve been all year," Gallant said -- smiling. "We come to the rinks -- I try to relax and set the atmosphere for our players: let’s come here and have fun."
As for the "being a star" bit: "I don’t want to be a star. I just want to be a coach that has fun and a good time and wins hockey games."
Coach Gerard Gallant talks to reporters at a news conference/Photos by Chris Smith/Desert Companion
The funny thing is, even during practice, as the players are jostling for position and trying to get pucks into nets, they, too, are smiling.
"Why not?" Karlsson says. "We’re in the conference final. Life's pretty good. So we’re going to try to keep smiling."
(Editor's note: This story originally aired May 2018)
William Karlsson, Golden Knights player; Ryan Reaves, Golden Knights player; Gerard Gallant, Golden Knights coach
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