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Spring in Las Vegas is for playing sports, getting outdoors, and enjoying family leisure time — and our April-May issue has all that covered. Check out the latest installment of our Champions on the Rise feature, introducing tomorrow’s superstar athletes, and get insider tips from an experienced family road-tripper on where to go and what to do within a few hours’ drive of Las Vegas (hint: Bring snacks!). Also in this issue: The last two years, as seen by a Las Vegas personal care worker | Remembering MGM Grand Adventures | Writer in Residence Krista Diamond shines a spotlight on the Vdara death ray | And more!Read the digital editionDownload the full issue as a pdf

Game On

Photo of Las Vegas Aviator Nick Allen by Steve Spatafore
Steve Spatafore
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Steve Spatafore

Spring brings plenty to watch in pro sports, both on and off the field. Here's your cheat sheet to the season

NFL – Las Vegas RaidersThe latest: The Raiders have a new head coach, Josh McDaniels, and a new GM, Dave Ziegler. 

What’s next? Will new management look to put their own personnel in place or keep the current roster intact and fill areas of need, such as their run defense? Perhaps more importantly, can they put off-field problems behind them and tap into their new, highly energized fan base in Las Vegas, to have a better 2022-’23 season? 

The buzz: The draft — scheduled here, April 28-30 — will give a good idea of what McDaniels and Ziegler have in mind for the team going forward. We’ll also find out who, among the available receivers, could replace Henry Ruggs.

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And also … Late February brought the announcement that the Raiders will play the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Hall of Fame game, August 4, to kick off the preseason.

NHL – Vegas Golden KnightsThe latest: Late in the 2021-’22 season, the Golden Knights playoffs prospects — which seemed like a lock pre-Olympics — are up in the air. As of press time, they were struggling and in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time.

What’s next? The fight for the playoffs, running May-June.

The buzz: The Golden Knights have battled through more adversity — injuries, illnesses, COVID, salary cap problems — than in years past and hung on. They’ve played much of the year with young players called up from the American Hockey League, who are contributing to the team. But with several key players on long-term injured reserve, including forward Mark Stone, the roster has been a carousel for most of the season. The March 21 trade deadline (coinciding with our press date) will determine who’s on the ice heading into the playoffs — if the team makes it that far.

And also … Local AHL team the Henderson Silver Knights are moving to their new home, Dollar Loan Center, at the beginning of April.

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WNBA – Las Vegas AcesThe latest: The Aces have a new head coach, Becky Hammon, and re-signed league star and de facto team leader A’ja Wilson. 

What’s next? Regular season starts May 6. Until then, mark your calendar for the draft, April 11. Former Aces Liz Cambage and Angel McCoughtry signed elsewhere during free agency.  Without them, how will the team perform under their new coach? What type of player will Hammon be looking for? And what impact will she have on the team?  

And also … There was some social media grumbling in January about Hammon’s million-dollar salary being so much higher than the players’ compensation. In early February, Swish Appeal reported that Aces owner Mark Davis was ready to pay players what they’re worth. 

USL – Las Vegas LightsThe latest: The Lights also have a new head coach, Enrique Duran, after the former coach ascended to the L.A. Football Club’s top coaching position. LAFC has renewed its agreement as the Lights’ MLS affiliate.

What’s next? Regular season runs March 19 through October — yes, October! — 23 

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And also … Local officials are pushing for an MLS expansion team in Las Vegas. MLS is reported to be in talks with investors Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris on funding the team, and Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft said it was a promising deal, as everything would be privately financed. The MLS commissioner said in December that Vegas was a frontrunner for the league’s next new team. But, you know, we’ve heard this before ...

MiLB – Las Vegas AviatorsThe latest: Preseason games started in March, with players “auditioning” for the big show. Big League Weekend, featuring two major league teams, was cancelled because of the lockout, which ended March 10.

What’s next? Opening Night is April 5. The team added six dates to its schedule for a total of 150 games this year.

And also …   The Aviators will be one of the minor-league teams testing robotic umpires at home plate this season before they (potentially) move on to MLB. Φ

Desert Companion welcomed Heidi Kyser as staff writer in January 2014. In 2018, she was promoted to senior writer and producer, working for both DC and State of Nevada. She produced KNPR’s first podcast, the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award-winning Native Nevada, in 2020. The following year, she returned her focus full-time to Desert Companion, becoming Deputy Editor, which meant she was next in line to take over when longtime editor Andrew Kiraly left in July 2022.