The Vegas Golden Knights are a professional ice hockey team based in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The team began play in the 2017–18 NHL season, and is a member of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team is owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley, and plays its home games at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada.
Background and establishmentEdit
The NHL has had a presence in Las Vegas since 1991, when an outdoor game was held in Las Vegas, with the Los Angeles Kings facing the New York Rangers outside Caesars Palace in a preseason exhibition game. The city has since hosted the Frozen Fury, a pre-season competition between the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanche, and the NHL Awards ceremonies have been held in Las Vegas since 2009. In 2009, the media speculated about a plan involving Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to move the team then known as the Phoenix Coyotes to Nevada.
Rumors of a Las Vegas expansion team surfaced again in August 2014, pointing to a new indoor arena on the Strip (built as a joint venture between Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Kings, and MGM Resorts International) as the potential home arena, although these rumors were denied by the league. In November 2014, an unconfirmed report stated that the league had selected billionaire businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof family (former owners of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings, and founders of the Palms Casino Resort) to lead the ownership group for a Las Vegas expansion team. In December 2014, the NHL's board of governors decided to allow Foley to hold a season ticket drive to gauge interest in a Las Vegas team, though league commissioner Gary Bettman also warned the media to "[not] make more out of this than it is". The season ticket drive began in February 2015, with interested parties placing ten percent deposits for the 2016–17 season. The drive drew 5,000 deposits in its first day and a half, and reached its goal of 10,000 deposits by April 2015.
In June 2015, the league officially opened the window for prospective owners to bid on expansion teams. By this point, Foley had secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits. Two expansion applications were submitted: Foley's application for a Las Vegas team, and a bid from Quebecor to revive the Quebec Nordiques at a new arena in Quebec City. Both Las Vegas and Quebec were invited to move into Phase II of the league expansion bid in August 2015, and subsequently advanced to Phase III.
At the league owners' meeting on June 22, 2016, in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas expansion bid was approved by a unanimous vote, with play to begin in the 2017–18 NHL season. The team became the first major professional sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas, and the first NHL expansion team since 2000. Foley committed to pay the league's $500 million expansion fee and began the process of hiring the team's principal staff and determining its official identity. Foley announced that former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee would be the franchise's first general manager. On November 22, 2016, the name was revealed as the Vegas Golden Knights.
Start of operations: 2017–presentEdit
On March 1, 2017 (coinciding with the league's trade deadline), the team completed its expansion fee payments and filings, making it eligible to formally begin operations such as free agent acquisition, and participation in league meetings. Five days later, the Golden Knights made its first personnel move by signing Reid Duke to a three-year entry-level contract.
The team announced inaugural head coach Gerard Gallant on April 13. Over the next two months, the Golden Knights developed their farm system, announcing affiliations with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.
The team participated in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on June 21, 2017, selecting an available player from all 30 teams in the NHL. The draft picks were announced at T-Mobile Arena during the NHL Awards ceremony. Some notable selections included goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins and winger James Neal from the Nashville Predators. At the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Cody Glass was the first player selected by the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights played their first game on October 6 against the Dallas Stars with Neal scoring the franchise's first two goals en route to their first victory.
The team's inaugural home game was played on October 10, 2017, hosting the Arizona Coyotes as the second game of a home-and-home series. In the aftermath of the October 1 mass shooting, the pre-game ceremonies honored the victims of the attack, and the team issued an appeal for donations to its charitable arm. With their 5–2 win, the Golden Knights increased their unbeaten streak to start the season to 3–0, an NHL record for an expansion team. The Golden Knights are the first team in NHL history to have started their inaugural season winning eight of their first nine games. The Golden Knights then failed to set another NHL expansion team record of six straight wins when they lost their tenth game 6–3 to the New York Islanders. During the game, goaltender Oscar Dansk was injured becoming third Golden Knights' goaltender to be injured in their first ten games after losing starters Fleury and the recently acquired Malcolm Subban. Fifteen games into the season, Vadim Shipachyov became the first player to retire from the NHL as a Golden Knight when he decided to return to the Kontinental Hockey League.
The team's name includes "Knights" as a homage to the Black Knights of the United States Military Academy, Foley's alma mater, and because knights were, according to Foley, "the epitome of the warrior class". Foley had hoped to name his team the Black Knights, but dropped that plan after encountering resistance from federal officials. Foley was unable call the team the "Vegas Knights" due to the London Knights owning the "Knights" name in Canada.
"Las" was omitted from the team's name because, according to Foley, residents tend to refer to the city simply as "Vegas", and because a four-word name would have been too long.
The United States Army expressed concern after the Golden Knights' name was announced, because their parachute team uses the same nickname. An objection was also raised by the College of Saint Rose because its sports teams use the same name; the Vegas team's initial trademark application was denied as a result, but was later approved on appeal.
Logos and colorsEdit
The team's primary color is steel gray, which is said to represent "strength and durability". The other team colors are gold, red (found in the Las Vegas skyline and at Red Rock Canyon), and black (for "power and intensity").
The Golden Knights' mascot is a Gila monster named Chance. He was unveiled at the team's second home game on October 13, 2017. The team opted against using a knight for a mascot because it found that knight mascots used by other teams were not very child-friendly.
Players and personnelEdit
Though Vegas has not itself retired any numbers, the team is not able to issue the jersey number #99 to any of its players as that number was retired league-wide in honor of Wayne Gretzky at the 2000 NHL All-Star Game.
- Gerard Gallant (2017–present)
AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (formerly Root Sports) is the regional television rightsholder for all Golden Knights games not broadcast nationally by NBCSN or NBC. The team's designated market includes Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, and parts of Arizona and California. Golden Knights games on AT&T SportsNet are called by former Boston Bruins radio announcer Dave Goucher on play-by-play, and Shane Hnidy, who previously worked color for the Winnipeg Jets on TSN.
The team has a three-year radio deal with Lotus Broadcasting. Lotus airs the team's games on its Fox Sports Radio affiliate, KRLV 1340/98.9. KRLV fronts a network of nine stations across Nevada, California, Arizona, and Utah.
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