The NHL’s worst-kept secret was their desire to be the first professional sports franchise in Las Vegas. Hosting an outdoor preseason game between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers in 1991, the NHL has always had footprints in Sin City, as the annual Awards Show has taken place there since 2009. The Vegas Golden Knights’ origins can be traced back farther than some think.
After the league opened it’s bidding for expansion franchises in June 2015, which included a $500 million fee, Foley and his Vegas dream were invited to the next phase of the expansion process. In June 2016, Las Vegas was approved by unanimous owners’ vote to be the next NHL franchise. Foley instantly began hiring team staff, including general manager George McPhee, who was previously the GM of the Washington Capitals.
The team’s name was under scrutiny for some time. Foley, a West Point graduate as a member of the U.S. Military, reportedly wanted to name his team the Black Knights. However, various trademark issues surfaced, and Foley began deliberating between various names (landing on Desert Knights, Silver Knights or Golden Knights). On November 22, 2016, Foley unveiled the name of the team to a boisterous crowd in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights made their first personnel decision in March 2017, when they signed free-agent Reid Duke, a 21-year-old out of the Western Hockey League who was originally a 2014 sixth-round pick of the Minnesota Wild.
On April 13, McPhee announced that he had found his head coach, bringing former Florida Panthers bench boss Gerard Gallant on board. The team’s second player was signed about a month later, as Vadim Shipachyov, formerly of the KHL, was brought in to likely be the team’s first line center.
GM McPhee (known as GM GM) instantly began making a bold statement: this team is building for the future. As soon as the next day, McPhee was wheeling and dealing, sending away recent acquisitions Trevor van Riemsdyk, David Schlemko and Marc Methot.
Set to begin regular season play in 2017-18, the Golden Knights have been active on social media, playing off the fact that this is their first NHL season, while taking jabs at other teams.
Here are three immediate impressions from the biggest win in Golden Knights history!
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) September 17, 2017
Two Stanley Cups in the last five years and once regarded as the best Twitter account in the league, and now….¯_(ツ)_/¯ https://t.co/MG0822rhon
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) September 13, 2017
The 31st NHL club begins its inaugural season on Oct. 6 on the road against the Dallas Stars. The first home professional sports contest for a Vegas team will be played Oct. 10 against the Arizona Coyotes at the Knights’ home arena, the T-Mobile Arena.
Feature photo courtesy Las Vegas Review-Journal
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