The NHL’s 31st franchise will be called the Vegas Golden Knights, an announcement that was made Tuesday but was delayed twice, and by several minutes, due to the malfunction of a video that unveiled the name and Star Wars-like logo at a gathering outside the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Believe me, we won’t screw up the first game like we screwed up the video,” principal owner Bill Foley told an audience estimated at 5,000 in the Toshiba Plaza outside the arena as well as an audience watching on the NHL Network. “We’ll do better on the rink.”
Fans booed the introduction of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, although he was instrumental in bringing the NHL to that desert city. “Keep the booing,” he said. “That proves you’re now an NHL city.”
The Golden Knights will begin play next season, following an expansion draft in which each of the current 30 teams will lose one player. They will be in the Pacific division of the Western Conference.
The process of admitting the Golden Knights to the league went more smoothly than the unveiling of the name and the black-and-gold logo. Foley’s group agreed to pay $500 million for the franchise, a sum that will be split among current owners. The money will not be shared with players.
Foley, a West Point graduate, had wanted to call his team the Black Knights, in tribute to his alma mater. But the NHL didn’t like the name, and other suggestions such as Desert Knights, Silver Knights and Golden Knights gained support.
Foley vowed that his team will win the Stanley Cup within six seasons and praised the passion of fans who snapped up enough season tickets to persuade NHL executives that the franchise can thrive in that non-traditional hockey city. Fans chanted his name Tuesday but jeered Bettman every time he spoke—and Bettman spoke more often than planned, because the video didn’t work until the third try.
“Perhaps someday you’ll have a chance to boo me when I present the Stanley Cup,” Bettman said.
That’s something to look forward to.
The NHL is the first major professional sports league to locate a team in Las Vegas. The Oakland Raiders have discussed moving there but the NHL will be the first to test the market.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen