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Golden Knights Answering The Bell As The NHL's 31st Franchise

The Golden Knights' hockey and business staffs are working hard to build the franchise from scratch.

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

It's the bell that gets your attention. This is a hockey team in its embryonic stages. Drafting players and finding fans and courting a community. GM George McPhee is signing players in one office. Jeff Kaminski is selling tickets in another. Team president Kerry Bubolz is in a cubicle in the middle of the sales and marketing pit.

Video: Lawless is live from the Golden Knights' headquarters

 

The bell? It gets clanged every time a staffer hooks up a new season ticket holder. So while McPhee is on the line with another NHL GM haggling over potential expansion draft options, Kaminski or one of his colleagues may be giving the bell a ring.

It makes for a stock exchange floor feel at times and it constantly reinforces the reality of bringing the NHL to Las Vegas. Something is being built, one ticket at a time.

The Vegas Golden Knights are like an oversized family living in too small a house while waiting for the new home to be constructed. Want some privacy? Step outside into the parking lot. This is an exercise is sharing. Air, space and resources are communal commodities.

There are opulent offices being built down the road but until they are ready, the Knights organization - hockey ops, marketing, sales, communications, content - you name it - are huddled up in a 7,000 square-foot office space normally allocated to one of team owner Bill Foley's other companies.

It makes for cramped quarters but it also creates a culture. One of collaboration and closeness. Like any family there are spats now and again but for the most part there is electricity and the hum of enterprise.

Confidence, enthusiasm and joy. This is a labor of love. It's pro sports after all and it's supposed to be fun.

Sometimes there are happy coincidences in life and the current home of the Golden Knights is an example.

On this Thursday morning, VP of Sales and Suites Todd Pollock is running an in-house promotion - handing out cold cash to his team for hitting sales marks.

They're whooping and hollering and laughing and smiling. And down the hall, McPhee is behind a half-closed door with members of his hockey ops crew.

"It's not by design but it's created a connectivity amongst our people. Not many sales teams with sports franchises get to see the GM walking by their desk on a daily basis," says Pollock. "They feel a part of everything that is going on and it makes them proud and hungry to succeed. It pushes everyone to be better."

McPhee smiles when asked about the arrangement.

"It's creating a family. We don't have people off in a bullpen somewhere. We're all together. There's a connection developing," said the veteran GM, who has spent time with franchises in Vancouver, Washington, New York and now Vegas.

The team will move to a state of the art practice facility designed by Senior VP Murray Craven. Training and practice facilities, coach's offices, boardrooms, business operations, a restaurant, twin pads and retail space in a 146,000 square foot hockey epicenter.

It's a showplace for hockey in Las Vegas. But for folks like Pollock, who is employee No. 1, ground zero will always be the cubicles and chairs cobbled together from Foley's other interests.

"I've worked in other places with other teams. This was an accident but it's been awesome," he said. "It's given us the culture we want. It's made us a team."

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