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May 24, 2019

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Army officials to review Las Vegas hockey team’s use of Golden Knights

Vegas Golden Knights Unveiling Ceremony

Steve Marcus

Owner Bill Foley, general manager George McPhee and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman unveil the team’s name and logo for the Las Vegas NHL franchise in the Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016. The team name is the Vegas Golden Knights.

The Las Vegas expansion hockey team that plans to call itself the Golden Knights has caught the attention of Army officials because of the parachute team that goes by the same name.

The Vegas Golden Knights, who begin play next year, announced their moniker last Tuesday.

The U.S. Army Parachute Team, which is based at Fort Bragg, has used the Golden Knights name since the 1960s, said Alison Bettencourt, a spokeswoman for the Army Marketing and Research Group in Arlington, Virginia. The group serves as the Army-level headquarters of the Golden Knights.

The Army parachute demonstration teams perform at more than 100 events per year, according to the group's website. The teams have appeared in more than 16,000 shows in 50 states and 48 countries, the website says.

Bettencourt said the group learned of the NHL team's name through media accounts Wednesday.

"We're reviewing the situation and figuring out what the way ahead would be," she said.

Officials with the hockey team could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Bill Foley, the billionaire businessman who owns the new franchise, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Foley reportedly wanted to call his team the Black Knights, which is used by the academy's sports teams, but a number of factors, including concern from Army officials, kept him from using that name.

The owner is aware of the parachute team's name.

“It exudes everything I’m proud of and everything I believe in as far as creating this team and the culture we’re going to have around this team,” Foley said.

The shared name hasn't gone unnoticed on social media. The Twitter account of a blog that covers the New York Islanders hockey team tweeted Tuesday that the Las Vegas team stole the Army's nickname.

"Rather unpatriotic if you ask me," the author tweeted.

Foley said in a video on the hockey team's website he wanted to call the team the Knights, which he called the "highest element of the warrior class."

"The concept of a knight who is honorable, who always defends those who cannot defend themselves," he said.

Bettencourt said the Army parachute team got the name because of its gold-winning performances in skydiving competitions around the world.

"We understand that one of the Las Vegas team owners has Army connections, and will likely understand our interest in this announcement is meant to protect the proud history of the Army's Golden Knights and their vital role in telling the Army story and connecting America with their Army," Bettencourt said.

The Army Golden Knights have earned 2,148 gold, 1,117 silver, and 693 bronze medals in national and international competition, according to the team's website. Team members have broken 348 world records, it said.

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