LAS VEGAS – Jonny Greco grew up with a desire to make films. When he graduated from Full Sail University in Orlando 20 years ago with a film diploma, he dreamed of one day telling stories and staging elaborate productions that would be talked about all over the country.
Greco's dream came true, unlikely to leave with an unlikely team in the midst of one of the most unlikely runs in sports history.
As vice president of entertainment and production for the Vegas Golden Knights, Greco builds the stories for the start of every home game that went viral during the unlikely run of the expansion team's Stanley Cup final. The walls of his office are filled with storyboards with different openings and images of different costumes and props that he would like to see in a show that gets bigger and more terrific with each round.
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"We had two stories planned before each round, one for each possible opponent," said Greco. "For the final of the conference, we knew that when we played Winnipeg, we would halve a jet on the ice If we were to play Nashville, we would put a living tiger on the ice and maybe do something with his fake saber tooth teeth Could we have done it, who knows, but we had the discussions. "
If you're in a city like Las Vegas, no idea is too crazy or impossible when it comes to entertaining the crowd
"The stakes in Vegas are higher," said Greco. "In this city you can see Cirque du Soleil, you can see David Copperfield, you can see all these incredible shows, but that's different, is not it? It's sport and we want to build this home advantage."
NHL teams show a hype video or a short highlight package to thrill fans before the players take the ice cream. This concept has evolved into a 10-minute theatrical performance in Las Vegas, which has become a must-see for all fans attending the show's dramatic countdown. TV channels that showed the openings in their entirety, and bloggers who post the highlights and reviews of the shows online before the puck drops, also went in.
The theme and the characters of the stories through each round – similar to all the good trilogies that run on tetralogies – are similar. They begin with soundbites and quotes that can be seen on the ice of various players and experts who doubted Vegas this season before moving on to the dramatic voice of the narrator describing the current fight.
"Chapter one saw the fall of the kings, Chapter Two of the Knights have been looking forward to Hai," the narrator said during the Western Conference Finals, as images of a king kneeling before a knight and a knight standing out the shark's fin is biting, shown on the scoreboard. The archers then came out of a lock built at one end of the T-Mobile Arena and raised their bows and illuminated arrows at the logos of all the playoff teams on the ice, before plucking one at a time from one to the other. It's a dramatic moment on the show, with only two teams remaining on Monday – Vegas and Washington.
In the office before the first game on Monday, Greco talked to Ayron Sequeria, the team's senior director of entertainment production, describing the scene. "She wanted live arrows of fire shot by archers across the arena," Greco said. "I'm like," What are you talking about? "
"I do not think that's a crazy idea," said Sequeria.
That will have to wait until the next season. The archers are currently being played by members of the Promoteameam who, for the first time in their lives, are bows and pretend to fire arrows with fake flames – from scratch with materials purchased in the Hobby Lobby – logos on  The most important event is when the villain, played by Zack Frongillo, a dance major at UNLV, comes on the ice and waves the flag of the opposing team, before the Golden Knight, played by Lee Orchard, a local DJ, in Europe was a show director for the Medieval Times for seven years. Orchard and Frongillo dual in the middle of the ice and the villain's final death seems to have been more dramatic with each round. In the final of the conference, Frongillo was suddenly lifted into the rafters after being defeated as if he had been ejected from the cockpit of a jet.
"After we defeated the San Jose Sharks Zack wrote me like 10 minutes later, he said," I'll do whatever you want. I fly into the rafters if you need me, "said Greco." I would never have thought about it. I do not even know if he jokes, but I've been thinking how to do it. I mean, we play the jets. We have to find a way to make someone fly.
In the final scene of the chapter of the conference final, a jet projected onto the ice was cut in half by the sword of the Golden Knight and went up in flames on the opposite sides of the boards, as in the castle and in The crowd went crazy.
"We've been thinking about putting a jet on a roller coaster and letting a jet fly through the crowd," Sequeria said. "I still think that might work."
This is another idea that has to wait for next season, but for the moment Greco and his team are focusing mainly on the Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup Final match and schedule became official last Wednesday.
"Playing Tampa Bay gave us almost 10 days to prepare for our first home game," said Greco. "If we were to play in Washington, it would be a quick turnaround, which it has been, and because this is a busy city with many great events, Pink, who is incredibly talented, has a concert 1 two nights before the match, so we can not go in and practice until Sunday, the night before game 1. "
While Greco looks over the storyboard for the Stanley Cup Final's first game in his office and thinks about the costumes and props outside, he can not help thinking of World Wrestling Entertainment. If there are some elements of WWE's Vegas & # 39; over-the-top opening, then, because Greco was the senior director, for five years, he was a live producer for WWE before moving to Las Vegas to join the Golden Knights.
"I thought I was fine with what I did, but I learned a lot from WWE," said Greco. "I was like," Oh, wow, OK, that's how you do it. "They've given me the opportunity to tell stories, they've simplified the stories, it's good against the bad, we have one It's storytelling, and you do not have to complicate it to make people worry about it. "
Prior to joining WWE, Greco was the director of video productions for Cleveland Cavaliers. There he met with Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz, who served as Cleveland's CEO. He knew he needed to add something in the first season of the game.
"We knew that Vegas had a good reputation As it is the entertainment capital of the world, entertainment in this market was already expected to be at a very high level," said Bubolz. "I knew we had to be really great in the show presentation of our show, I had worked with Jonny in Cleveland and he got a lot better when he went to WWE, whether you like what they do or not, you do two things very well Good: They tell great stories and they do a show, it's the good guy versus the bad guy, and there's a lot of good versus evil in our game presentation. "
About 24 hours before the first Stanley Cup final in Las Vegas, Greco goes through the final chapter of a story he never expected to feature in four stages, let alone one, at the start of the season would. Meanwhile, Sequeria calls calls from celebrity representatives who are in any way supposed to be involved in a cameo appearance to boost the siren before the game. Everyone wants to be part of the hottest show in Las Vegas.
"This is an entertainment city and you have to understand that people spend their hard earned money coming to our show," Sequeria said. "We can not control the hockey, but we can control everything else, especially the 15 minutes before the match, and each team has a piece of time, which is the same, from the moment it warms up until the puck falls. How each team decides to use this piece of time is up to them, but we just choose to use it the way Vegas should and it works for us. "