Las Vegas announces ‘Vegas Golden Knights’ ice hockey team for 2017/18 season
The team, which will take its place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference from the start of next season, revealed its logo and team colors during a ceremony outside the 17,500 seat T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday.
The Golden Knights become the 31st NHL team and the first expansion team in the league since the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild were added in 2000.
“We now have an identity – my whole idea was to create a logo and a name that was powerful that would epitomize the warrior class,” Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley told ESPN.com.
“The Knights are the epitome of the warrior class, the top of the line in terms of defending the realm, defending the unprotected. This is all part of the culture we want to create with the hockey team.”
Foley said he went with ‘Vegas’ instead of ‘Las Vegas’ for the team’s name because that is how most locals refer to their city.
He initially wanted to call the team the ‘Las Vegas Black Knights’ as a nod to his time in the military, but various legal issues foiled that plan.
The list of potential names was narrowed down to three at the start of October – Desert Knights, Silver Knights, or Golden Knights – with the latter ultimately emerging as the preferred choice.
The Golden Knights will be the first professional sports team for ‘Sin City’, with none of the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA) or Major League Soccer (MLS) leagues having a team based there to date.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said it was an important day for the league's newest franchise.
“I think the day upon which you begin to create the identity of a franchise is the day that fans can begin to have their emotional connection to the club,” Bettman told ESPN.
“And while five months ago to the day we announced that the expansion was going to be a reality, I think today will mark it feeling real – if you're a fan and you can get a T-shirt or a hat, this then begins to signify the beginning of fandom.”
The team has immediately struck a chord in the city, with over 14,000 season tickets and most of the luxury seats already sold for the new season.
Former Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee will now begin the process of assembling the Golden Knights’ roster, with the first players due to be acquired in the expansion draft on June 21.
Vegas must pick one player from each of the 30 existing teams, before selecting their first rookies in the NHL draft two days later.
They are guaranteed to have at least the sixth overall pick in the draft and will own the third pick in each subsequent round.
The final roster will contain 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. At least 20 of those players must be under contract for the 2017/18 season.