By Matt Ambrose,
Sports Business Writer
For the first time since the year 2000, the NHL will welcome an expansion franchise into the league’s landscape. On November 22nd, the Vegas Golden Knights were introduced as the league’s 31st team, scheduled to begin play in 2017. The Golden Knights now become the first team within the four major North American professional sports leagues to call Las Vegas home. The team will play its home games at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, a 17,500-seat arena that opened this past April.
Team Owner Bill Foley revealed the name to fans, and spoke about what he wants to see out of his new expansion franchise. “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,” said Foley. “We want our team to be committed to teamwork, service to this great city and integrity in all things.” Foley also went on to discuss the choice of the name “Knights” stating that they, “protect those who cannot defend themselves.”
The NHL’s expansion into Las Vegas was long in the making. Rumors had been swirling for several years about the league possibly introducing their first expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild were added to the league in 2000. The league awarded Las Vegas an NHL franchise back in June, and work was done within the ownership group and front office to come up with appropriate branding for the team.
Ultimately, the name “Golden Knights” was what they settled on, however this choice was not met without scrutiny.
In the days following the announcement of the team’s name, reports surfaced that the US Army took issue with the nickname of the new NHL franchise, as it is the same as the Army’s parachute team. Foley, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, said that he did not falter in the naming of the new Vegas franchise.
“Our development and use of the name Vegas Golden Knights was based upon Nevada being the largest gold producing state in the country and the golden tones of the Las Vegas strip,” Foley told to ESPN. “Our use of the Golden Knights is distinctive from the Army Golden Knights just as the N.Y. Rangers are distinctive from the Texas Rangers or the Arizona Cardinals are distinctive from the St. Louis Cardinals.”
With the team set to begin play in time for the 2017-2018 season, the league will hold an expansion draft on June 21st. The Golden Knights must select one player from each of the 30 teams in the league. Afterwards, they will take part in the NHL draft and will be awarded no lower than the sixth overall pick.
With the announcement of the Vegas Golden Knights, the potential for other professional sports leagues to expand to Las Vegas becomes more likely. The NHL took the first step, and now it’s time for others to follow suit.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 13th print edition.
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