Las Vegas, the Best First Year Expansion Team Ever
Year to year, season to season sports give us things we've never witnessed before and that's what makes it magical.
This NHL season there was a new player in the game, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. They were a team made up of castoffs, players who were deemed expendable by their previous franchise, and together they became an instant success.
This team was picked to finish last or next to last in the Pacific Division, where did they end up? On top of, not only the Pacific Division, but on top of the entire Western Conference representing the conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, the Knights weren't able to bring home the Stanley Cup in their first year but they won a game and went to where no other expansion team had gone in their first year of existence. The team finished 51-24 and has cemented themselves as the best expansion team in year one that we've ever seen.
Here's a look at what the best and worst expansion teams in every major sport:
WORST: Washington Capitals- 8-67-5 (21 points, 1974-75)
Well, this is sort of ironic, the best expansion team ever in year one lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the team who was the worst NHL expansion team in year one. This team was bad, but especially bad on the road as, at one point, they had lost 38 straight road games. As the story goes, a few of the Washington players were so elated with the teams first road victory of the year that they were celebrating in the locker room and hoisting a green trash can signed by every player. The Caps lost their final two road games of the year and finished with a brutal 1-39 record on the road. In addition, the team's 21 points are the lowest total in a full season in the NHL's modern era.
BEST: Chicago Bulls- 33-48 (1966-67)
This team wasn't great but they did make the playoffs as the 4 seed in the Western Division but were swept in three games by the St. Louis Hawks. The big players on this team were, Guy Rodgers (18 ppg, 11.3 apg), Jerry Sloan (17.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg), and Bob Boozer (18 ppg).
WORST: Vancouver Grizzlies- 15-67 (1995-96)
Two new NBA teams north of the boarder in the same year (Grizzles and Toronto Raptors) and it wasn't a good year for either squad. The Raptors only came away with 21 wins but the Grizzlies were historically bad as they averaged just 89 points per game as a team. The key players for this team were, Greg Anthony (14 ppg, 7 apg) and Benoit Benjamin (14 ppg, 8 rpg).
BEST: Los Angeles Angels- 70-91 (1961)
21 games under .500 is not a glamorous place to be but that shows just how difficult it is to compete on a day-to-day basis throughout a full MLB season. The best player on this team was LF Leon Wagner who hit .280, scored 74 runs, hit 28 home runs, and drove in 79 runs.
WORST: New York Mets- 40-120 (1962)
The miserable Mets, the inaugural season for the Metropolitan's was not a good one, in fact, it was an all time terrible one for any team in any sport. To make matters worse, their cross town rivals, New York Yankees, won the World Series that year... A diamond in the rough for this team was veteran LF Frank Thomas. He had a really good season for this otherwise dismal team, he hit .266, scored 69 runs, clubbed 34 home runs, and drove in 94 runs.
BEST: Carolina Panthers- 7-9 (1995)
It was an inauspicious start for the start-up franchise from the Carolina's as they dropped their first five games out of the gate. However, the team turned it around quickly and finished the season 7-4. A young Kerry Collins was the quarterback who had an okay season but he had two wide receivers who had very good years. Mark Carrier who caught 66 balls for 1,002 yards, and three touchdowns. Willie Green was the other wide-out who caught 47 passes for 882 yards, and six touchdowns.
WORST: Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 0-14 (1976)
Fun fact about the Tampa Bay Bucs as a franchise is that they didn't just lose 14 in a row to begin their history they actually lost the first 12 games of next year as well to start off 0-26. Steve Spurrier was the quarterback of this team and was not effective, he threw just 7 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, and 1,628 yards. No wide receivers had more than 400 yards receiving and running backs wise Louis Carter was the lead rusher at 521 yards.