How the Vegas Golden Knights got their name

November 23, 2016, 9:01 AM

— -- LAS VEGAS -- What's in a name? For the Vegas Golden Knights, it is in some ways everything because to have a name is to have a beginning.

After weeks of speculation, owner Bill Foley revealed to hundreds of fans outside T-Mobile Arena that their team has a name and a logo, bringing the idea of a team in Las Vegas much closer to reality.

"We now have an identity," Foley told in his office a few hours before he unveiled the team's name and logo, which features a medieval-themed helmet.

"We are now the Golden Knights," he said. "My whole idea was to create a logo and a name that was powerful, that would epitomize the warrior class. The knights are the epitome of the warrior class, the top of the line in terms of defending the realm, defending the unprotected. This is all part of the culture we want to create with the hockey team. And hockey players are warriors and they're team players, they're not individuals, they're playing together."

What's in a name?

Along with an identity, it is also an important signpost along the way in creating something from nothing.

Although hiring staff GM George McPhee and assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon, and formalizing Murray Craven as senior vice president are important moments in the team's creation, until it got a name, there was still something ethereal about it.

"But if you're a fan and you can get a T-shirt or a hat, this then begins to signify the beginning of fandom," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told

It was five months to the day since the NHL confirmed that Las Vegas would become the 31st franchise, beginning play in the fall of 2017.

About three weeks after that announcement, Foley met for the first time with the folks at Adidas about creating the team's logo and jerseys.

"And then I had to stay on them," he said.

"So we finally got them going," Foley said. "We've been through six or seven iterations. Going from broad vision to more narrow to more narrow to more narrow."

The final versions of both the logo and jerseys weren't settled on until 2? weeks ago.

Thumbing through a book that displays the jersey color schemes for home and away, Foley pointed out the changes that had been undertaken even since September, including a band of red on both the jerseys and socks that was initially white. That was the brainchild of McPhee.

"George McPhee colored it in and said, 'What do you think about that?'" Foley said. "And it looked perfect. It makes the gray look more powerful."

Foley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, initially wanted to call his team the Black Knights, but a number of factors -- not the least of which was some level of concern from Army officials -- conspired to make that a no-go.

But Foley incorporated some of the color schemes and elements that he'd envisioned for a Black Knights team with the Golden Knights, including metallic gold embroidery, a slate-gray medieval-themed helmet, crossed swords over a stylized star with a dab of red that approximates the star in the iconic Las Vegas city sign.

Foley had to get approval from the NHL and they had to clear the use of the Golden Knights name with Clarkson College in Potsdam, New York, which also uses the Golden Knights as its nickname

Then Foley trademarked the name, along with Silver Knights and Desert Knights, to keep people from guessing the team's real identity before Tuesday's big reveal.

That folks didn't know for sure what the team was going to be called until they gathered in the plaza outside T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday evening was remarkable in and of itself.

"My wife knew. My kids didn't know," the owner said. "George knew, but he wouldn't tell his wife. He said, 'I'm going to prove I can keep a secret,' so George didn't tell anybody. The guys at Adidas didn't talk."

The buzz surrounding the naming and the attendant festive atmosphere of the naming ceremony, which also included a performance by corporate partner Cirque de Soleil, should bode well for sales of merchandise that began Tuesday night, even if jerseys won't be available until mid-February. The team expects to have merchandise in 11 Las Vegas strip locations, McCarran International Airport, the team store and at the practice facility, which is currently under construction.

The interest in the team isn't solely in Las Vegas, either.

Bettman told of being in a coffee shop in Nashville on Monday when he ran into a group of Tampa Bay Lightning fans who had traveled to Nashville to see their team play. They told the commissioner they were already planning a road trip next season to see the Lightning play in Vegas.

"This market is going to elevate the league's visibility," Bettman said. "I cannot tell you as I've traveled the league how many people, when they ask me in other cities about this franchise, say, 'I'm going to go on a road trip with my team. I'm going to go take in a game on the road in Las Vegas.'"

With the nickname, logo and jerseys unveiled, there's just one thing left to do to make this team a reality.

"Now all we have to do is get some really good players," Foley said with a laugh.