By Logan Swinkels
There’s a new city on the NHL landscape, Las Vegas.
We have known this for a few months now, but we now know the official team name and logo.
Enter the Vegas Golden Knights.
The name itself will probably grow on me, but why not the Silver Knights? After all, Nevada is known as the ‘Silver State’. The Golden State? Well, that’s California.
The meaning goes back to owner Bill Foley’s fondness of the West Point military academy and their mascot, the Black Knight. Foley’s team went with gold however as it implies strength.
Why not just Vegas Knights?
That’s got a familiar ring to it. Except the London Knights of the OHL wouldn’t let Foley use their moniker, but they did go ahead and use the same colour scheme.
So, will hockey survive on the Las Vegas strip?
The problem here is that while the Golden Knights will be the first professional sports team in ‘Sin City', they are not the only pro ticket in town and will be competing with the UFC and boxing for attention.
The location of the brand-spanking new T-Mobile Arena is perfect. Located just off the strip, near the Monte Carlo and MGM Grand hotels, the NHL has a real shot at attracting tourist dollars into this new franchise and creating more fans in a sport that needs it.
Looking at the revenues generated by the top-tier professional leagues in America, the NHL sits well behind the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball.
According to howmuch.net, the NFL earns $18B NZD a year, MLB gets $13.4B, the NBA $6.7B, with the NHL lagging behind at $5.2B a year.
This expansion wasn’t a rushed decision nor a cash-grab. The league has tested the waters in Vegas since 1997 with the Frozen Fury, an annual pre-season game held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena featuring the Los Angeles Kings - it was moved to the new arena this season and it looked spectacular.
Bringing in this Las Vegas team should be treated as a test case to see if the league in its current state is ready to expand into other markets.
Unfortunately yesterday’s name and logo reveal was a very awkward event to watch unfold, often feeling unpolished and under-rehearsed.
Their presentation graphics appeared to still be rendering during the announcement.
Expanding into new markets is a risky endeavour and hasn’t always proved to be a smooth operation, especially in the desert. Just look at the financial troubles of the Arizona Coyotes.
To make this work, the Golden Knights are going to need some bonafide hockey stars for their inaugural season in 2017-18.
A slow build won’t work in a city like Las Vegas, you need instant success to keep the punters hooked. I’m not saying ‘Stanley Cup Champions’ in year one, but put out a strong roster and have a winning season or the gloss of the NHL’s new toy might fade quickly.
We’ll find out what players they can pick from the other 30 NHL teams in June’s expansion draft. Hockey Night in Vegas might sound very appealing to veterans and younger stars alike - don’t screw this up.