NHL Superstar Jack Eichel Claims Many Teams Fall Victim to 'Vegas Flu': 'It Works in Our Favor'


Despite the fact that Las Vegas was one of the quickest-growing cities in America over the past half-century, it took pro sports a while to take hold there — only getting its first franchise in the major four North American leagues, the expansion NHL Las Vegas Golden Knights, in 2017.

The primary concern was that, by putting a team in the epicenter of gambling, organized crime would have an easier opportunity to establish connections with players who would throw games or shave points, particularly with the home team.

However, according to one of the Golden Knights’ stars, the hazard goes the other way: It’s the visiting team suffering from the “Vegas Flu.”

In an interview on Pat McAfee’s sports podcast Wednesday, Golden Knights center Jack Eichel spoke about partying in the city that coined the tourism catchphrase “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas” and said it’s true that hard partying in the gambling town catches up to opposing franchises — creating, if not perhaps abject fear and loathing, at least some substandard play.

“Let’s just say, I’ve learned that the ‘Vegas Flu’ is a real thing,” Eichel said, with a laugh, when asked about the “Vegas Flu” phenomenon.

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“Playing here you talk to guys after the game about what you do the last few days. Some schedules [have] teams to be here three or four days prior to our game.

“They’ve had a nice little trip and it works in our favor that we get them at the end of a few long days in the Strip, playing cards and gambling and drinking,” he added.

It’s bad enough, he said, that he’s smelled booze on the breath of a competitor.

WARNING: The video below contains language that the viewer may find offensive

Should pro-athletes be allowed to party during the season?

At Washington Capitals blog Russian Machine Never Breaks (so named after Russian-born Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin — please don’t label us as Kremlin propaganda, Facebook), the tag “Vegas Flu” first began being applied after the 2017-18 Golden Knights won six of their first seven games and were dominant on their home ice at T-Mobile Arena, losing only 12 games there all season.

This led to them becoming the first expansion franchise to make it to the championship in its respective sport — where they were clocked 4 games to 1 by the Washington Capitals, which is why this is being covered by a Caps blog. (See? Nothing to us promoting an article from a source by that name. I’m waving a Ukrainian flag over here. Please, please don’t downrank us.)

However, Eichel also noted the “Vegas Flu” can work in reverse and some young men can learn their lessons.

“But sometimes you get the opposite,” Eichel said.

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“You get a team that’s done that but then they’re playing guilty so they’re working even harder. I’m sure there are plenty of guys that have had guilty games here this season. We definitely know that going into games. We hear it from other people if guys have been out and what they’ve been doing.”

“Playing guilty, yeah. Maybe had a couple too many beers the night before and same thing. You don’t want to catch any heat so you’re working extra hard and you’re doing anything to help the team win that night,” he added.

Has playing guilty helped or hurt the Golden Knights this year?

Despite having the top seed going into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year with a 51-22-9 record, they have more points playing away; they were 25-15-1 at home and 26-7-8 on the road.

Still, it’s a very valid lesson when the Winnipeg Jets play in Las Vegas during game one of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night: All the money in the world can buy you a great time in the casinos and at the clubs, but no matter how fit you are, it can’t buy off the price of vice.

Whether it’s a hangover, guilt over a heavy loss at the roulette wheel or simply not enough sleep, the only way to avoid those things is to stay away from temptation in the first place.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture