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September 21, 2017

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Fans of East Coast NHL teams looking forward to Vegas trip


Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Jay Deogracias takes a selfie in front of the scoreboard in T-Mobile Arena after at the unveiling of the name of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016.

Vegas Golden Knights Unveiled

The logo for the Las Vegas NHL franchise is unveiled during a ceremony in the Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. The team name is the Vegas Golden Knights. Launch slideshow »

When the name was first unveiled on live television Tuesday night, it was confusing. Vegas Golden Knights. Wait a minute. What about Las Vegas? What about representing your city?

Of course, the Coyotes are now named for Arizona and no longer for Phoenix and the Panthers go for Florida and not Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Sunrise, the city they actually play in. And the Hurricanes go by Carolina, which isn't even a state at all but a nickname.

But the more you think about it, the more I realized a place as unique as Las Vegas should come out with something unique for its first team in professional sports. And that's exactly what majority owner Bill Foley did with the Vegas show-like announcement outside T-Mobile Arena.

Yes, a video glitched and didn't play when it was supposed to (rehearsals, anyone?). Some expansion blues on the presentation end there. But the name is catchy. The logo is catchy. And there's a huge buzz about the NHL's new team just over 10 months before it plays its first regular-season game.

It remains to be seen with the transient nature of Las Vegas' burgeoning population how this team will draw fans in the long term but those who have toured the arena are wowed by it. And reporters around the league are hearing from fans in their city — Buffalo included — that they are eager to get a hold of the 2017-18 schedule to see when their team will be in Vegas. It seems like teams on the East Coast, as well as teams in the Central Division and Eastern Canada, all have fans looking forward to the trip.

That can be a winning recipe. So can merchandising. The team's sweaters will be unveiled in the coming months. The color scheme at home will be steel gray with black and gold trim, and white and red accents. The road uniform will be white with black, gold, gray and red. The black and gold logo has a knight's helmet with a 'V' on the face, hence another reason to use "Vegas."

The red accents were reportedly added at the suggestion of General Manager George McPhee, who has a much bigger job ahead. The hiring of Vegas' first head coach will likely not come until March at the earliest. reported after the unveiling in Vegas that the NHL cleared use of the name Golden Knights with Clarkson University in Potsdam, which also uses it. To maintain secrecy before the reveal, Foley had trademarked Golden Nights along with Silver Knights and Desert Knights.

Here's hoping the name is more Golden than the last one that used that term in the NHL. In the late '60s, the Oakland Seals became the California Golden Seals but owner Charlie O. Finley's gimmicks, like white skates or switching the green and gold uniforms to teal, never took off. The Golden Seals, an Adams Division rival of the Sabres during their Stanley Cup final season of 1974-75, eventually moved to Cleveland in 1976.

Vegas is going to be built to win quickly and not languish for years like most expansion teams do. The expansion draft rules should allow the Golden Knights to get a few more quality players than most first-year teams have had in the past. Vegas scouts, including former Sabres captain Mike Foligno, are going around the league watching players to get ready. News out of Vegas in the coming months will be one of the bigger subplots to this season.

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