The NHL officially announced on Wednesday that the league would be granting a new franchise to Las Vegas in time for the 2017-18 season, expanding the league to 31 teams. The expansion club’s majority owner Bill Foley didn’t announce a name at the press conference, but it seems pretty clear to most on what name is most preferred.
Vegas’ ownership group name is Black Knight Sports and Entertainment. Foley’s personal company is Black Knight Financial Services. Foley went to the United States Military Academy, where the sports nickname was Black Knights. Oh, and Foley has mentioned a number of times that he’d like to name the team the Las Vegas Black Knights.
Lots of people were already skeptical about putting a franchise in Las Vegas, but the proposed name has also not been given much approval from hockey fans. People have thrown a number of other names into the ring; Aces, Wranglers, Outlaws, even Flamingos. But in my opinion, there’s one suggestion that hasn’t been offered enough and would appease all parties.
What about the Las Vegas Knights?
First of all, there’s already an NHL team nearby Las Vegas that has a black and silver colour scheme and a royal nickname: the Los Angeles Kings. Going with Black Knights would involve lots of careful footing because the team would have to find a uniform and logo that don’t look too similar to what the Kings already have.
Going with Knights alone opens up plenty more uniform possibilities. Historically, the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights have done very well with their green and gold jersey set. The Dallas Stars iced a victory green and white uniform set in 2014 that currently rivals some of the league’s best looks.
Another green club would be a welcome change of pace for a league full of blues and reds. But even if Foley and Co. don’t want to go with a green uniform, not including a colour within the team’s name would give the franchise more jersey and merchandising options.
Once again, the name Black Knights would invoke the idea of copying the nearby Kings, who’ve been making attempts to corner the Las Vegas hockey market since the 1990s. The Kings have hosted at least one “Frozen Fury” preseason game in the Nevada desert every season since 1997, a trend that continues this October at T-Mobile Arena, the future home of the Vegas franchise. One of the tasks ahead for the team’s marketing department will be converting local LA fans into season ticket holders for Vegas’ own club, and the best way to do that is developing a brand new identity.
Doing something completely different from the Kings is the best way to convince on-the-fence fans to switch allegiances to the new kids on the block. The Knights is still a medieval based nickname, but then you can market any Kings/Knights matchup as a “Battle Royale” of sorts. Clashing uniforms would also widen the divide of the two franchises, like Montreal’s “bleu, blanc et rouge” against Boston’s black and gold.
The brass of the Vegas franchise will have plenty of time to figure all this out before they officially open for business in October 2017. I’d encourage them to look at all possible name choices, even if the identity already seems as set as a sword in a stone. Talk to the public, hold a name-the-team contest, and above all, pick something that supremely screams “Viva Las Vegas”.