In spite of soaring temperatures outside that are expected to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the city of Las Vegas plans to roll the dice on its new National Hockey League (NHL) team next year.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights will lace up their skates for an inaugural season in the dessert with the start of the NHL’s 2017-18 season. This franchise and its new owner, Bill Foley, paid a $500 million expansion fee to the NHL, sources confirmed, to officially set these plans into motion.
The NHL’s new Las Vegas expansion team is the league’s first in more than 16 years since the addition of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in 2000.
The Vegas Golden Knights, which are the NHL’s 31st team, will kick off next season as a member of the Western Conference’s Pacific Division. The team will call Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena home, a 17,368-seat venue that is located directly on the famed Las Vegas Strip. It was this arena, USA Today noted, that recently hosted two Los Angeles Kings preseason games for the NHL this past October as a trial.
Now, however, Las Vegas will have its own professional sports franchise for the first time in its history.
As announced yesterday on the NHL Network, per USA Today, Las Vegas’ Golden Knights franchise will feature a logo with the colors steel gray, gold, red, and black. This emblem, which was introduced alongside the team’s new mascot, was designed as part of a sponsorship deal with Adidas.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 23, 2016
“The [Las] Vegas Golden Knights team name and logo embody this great city and the mission of our team,” Foley noted. “When people see it, we want them to say ‘These guys never give up. These guys are going to win’.”
“We want our team to be known for dedication, honor, strength, courage and a commitment to never give up — both on the ice and off,” continued Foley. “Committed to teamwork, service to this great city and integrity in all things — and we wanted a name and logo that represented all of this and was unique to Las Vegas and our community.”
“[The] Vegas Golden Knights,” Foley smiled, “is that name.”
Meanwhile, on the back end of management, the New York Times confirmed that the team has already hired former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee as GM and former Cleveland Cavaliers executive Kerry Bubolz as president. These men, the Times noted, have already assembled a staff of nearly 40 scouts, video specialists, and analysts.
In terms of actual players, the new NHL team in Las Vegas will be able to select unprotected players from other teams as part of an expansion draft that will be held next summer. The Las Vegas expansion team will also, presumably, have the option to draft players out of college next year.
All of this, Bill Foley told the NYT, is a learning process.
While several obstacles must still be hurdled prior to the Las Vegas expansion team’s official NHL season opener — including sponsorship packages, television broadcast rights, and merchandise and other gear sales — team owner Foley remains optimistic.
In fact, Foley told the newspaper that he was amazed when 4,000 deposits were placed by hockey fans on the first day of a drive to garner support for the new NHL club, making him think to himself, “Wow, people really want this.”
For the first time in its history, Las Vegas will sport a professional sports franchise. If early projections are in any way accurate, the popularity of the new NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights will be as hot on the ice as the city is on the outside.
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]