Las Vegas Sun

June 20, 2019

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Bill Foley sounds off on Golden Knights roster moves, evolving pregame festivities

Vegas Golden Knights Fan Fest

Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights team owner Bill Foley waves during a Vegas Golden Knights Fan Fest at the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.

Golden Knights’ owner Bill Foley spends much of his summers on the fairways of the golf course at Rock Creek Cattle Company in Deer Lodge, Mont.

Foley owns the ranch, which is built along a creek in central Montana. During the afternoon the temperatures barely crack 80 degrees and at night the small mountain town dips to a chilly 50 degrees, which is a nice change for Foley from the Las Vegas summer.

Foley took some time between rounds to chat with the Sun about how his offseason is going, what he thinks of the Golden Knights’ roster moves, next year’s pregame ceremonies and more.

How has the offseason been, and what are your responsibilities during the summer?

I spend a lot of the offseason up here in Montana, but I went down to Las Vegas last week for four days.

I kind of follow (general manager George McPhee’s) lead during the offseason. I was down there for the NHL Awards ceremony, and then we had some meetings. At the end of June, it was all about preparing for the unrestricted free agents. I had some discussions with George and (assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon) but once it was clear what we were doing in free agency I left on July 1.

Are you enjoying the brief time off before next hockey season starts up?

Oh yes. I just finished up a round of golf and came back and decided to get a little shut eye. I kind of had to lay off the golf for about five weeks (because of an injury), but I got back out there for the first time today and didn’t have any pain. I love this course because it’s kind of built along the creek, criss crossing the creek back and forth. It’s really nice.

So, when are you getting back to Las Vegas?

I’ll be back in Las Vegas on Sept. 12. We have a big team dinner on Sep. 13 with all of the veterans and some of the rookies. I have a speech planned. George is a man of few words, so I kind of take care of that. He’s always saying don’t say too much, but I know what to do.

How happy are you with what has transpired this offseason, and the moves made so far?

I’m really proud of what we accomplished. Now we have added a couple pieces and maybe we’ll add another piece or two as the year goes on. I really feel like we’re three, four or even five years ahead of schedule.

I believe you’re going to find a lot of our players feel like they’re unfulfilled; that we should have won it all. I talk to a lot of them pretty frequently and they say that we all felt pretty empty when we didn’t win, but they aren’t tired. They want to get back out there, which is great.

We still have all the draft picks from 2017. There are a lot of really interesting unrestricted free agents next July 1 if they don’t re-sign with their current teams. If I have anything to do with it, we’re going to be good for awhile.

Speaking of the draft picks from 2017, what are your expectations for the top prospects like Cody Glass, Nick Suzuki, Erik Brannstrom and Nic Hague?

George is very dedicated to making sure we don’t bring anybody up until they’re mature enough physically. You look at some of the guys they bring up when they’re 18 and they can get beat up. They may look like men when they’re playing in (junior hockey), but when they move up to the NHL, it’s another story.

These guys are going to want to get on the team. George is very open minded, but it’s his and Turk’s (Gerard Gallant) call.

Let’s talk about your team off the ice, which was just as successful as the team was on it. The pregame festivities were really under the spotlight of national television during the playoffs. Can we expect more of the same, or will they be changing things up next season?

I want the same program, but I have a few ideas to elaborate. I have this military background, and I have this vision of the knight and the warrior class. Sometimes they get a little too froufrou. Maybe a little less playful and a little more serious this year. We can change a few things. I have a few ideas, and luckily I’m in a situation to make them make those changes.

I love the "Apocalypse Now" intro with the music and the helicopter. I like it as loud as possible. And the "John Wick Mode" intro song is perfect, and we won’t be changing that.

Obviously, the team’s run to the Stanley Cup Final shortens the offseason considerably, but do you already miss hockey?

I am excited for September to get here. It was only like a month and a half ago that we were playing hockey. I don’t believe the rest of the league respects us. They thought last year was just a fluke, but it wasn’t. It was a well-planned campaign, and my goal is to make this team great for many years to come.

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