The Vegas Golden Knights are making a play to turn Saskatchewan against the Winnipeg Jets, and expand their own fan base.
The NHL’s newest team sent their mascot, “Chance” the Gila Monster, to make a quick stop in Saskatoon Tuesday to drop off jerseys for Premier Scott Moe and Roughriders’ mascot Gainer the Gopher.
Social media personalities Justin Reves and Greg Moore met with the Vegas mascot to pick up the swag, which they plan to deliver in person.
“It’s overwhelming to have an NHL franchise look to Saskatchewan and say, ‘We want you, we want your attention,'” Moore said.
“That’s so different from every other hockey team … you say, ‘Hey I’m from Saskatchewan and I cheer for you,’ and they say, ‘Oh, okay, I don’t care.'”
The stop came after game two of the NHL’s Western Conference Final between the Golden Knights and Jets, with the series now shifting back to Las Vegas tied 1-1.
Reves and Moore said the meeting with the mascot had been in the works for awhile though. The pair noted they realized early on Saskatchewan had the opportunity to claim Vegas as their team, with a high contingent of Canadian players and plenty of direct flights to Sin City.
“We just kept running with it — and Vegas loved it,” Reves said.
The pair added while the Jets are the last remaining Canadian team in the playoffs, it should be no contest for Saskatchewan-based fans on which team to support.
“We’re mortal enemies with the people of Winnipeg,” Reves said.”We can’t just turn that off or on. They say mean things to us. ‘Banjo-picking imbreds’ is, I believe, the quote.”
He added if Blue Bombers jerseys get booed in Saskatchewan, so should Jets jerseys.
“Have some integrity,” he joked.
Vegas also has some Saskatchewan connections, with Davidson’s Brayden McNabb playing defence and Plenty’s Kelly McCrimmon serving as assistant general manager.
The Jets have no Saskatchewan-born players on their roster, but general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff hails from Blaine Lake.
His brother, Ken Cheveldayoff, is the provincial minister of central services and former minister of sport — and knows where his loyalties lie.
“Forty-thousand people with the ‘Whiteout’ in Winnipeg can’t be wrong,” he said. “Go Jets go.”
Game three between the Jets and Golden Knights is scheduled for Wednesday, with puck drop in Las Vegas at 7 p.m. CST.