First Bill Foley brought the NHL to Las Vegas. Now the Golden Knights are adding the American Hockey League to their portfolio.
The club has purchased an AHL franchise for relocation to Henderson/Las Vegas.
The team will play in Henderson/Las Vegas beginning with the 2020-21 season. Details on where the team will play, what it will be named and jersey design will be released going forward pending AHL Board of Governors approval of both the sale and transfer.
The trend in the NHL is for organizations to base their AHL affiliates in close geographical proximity to the big club. All three NHL franchises in California, for instance, have their farm clubs in the same state. Five NHL franchises have their AHL teams play in the same metropolitan area as the big club.
In three years' time, Nevada has gone from a state without pro hockey to a home of the world's two best professional leagues. Adding AHL hockey to the Nevada footprint furthers the Golden Knights pursuit of growing the game in the state. The number of pro games being played in Nevada will almost double.
The AHL is the No. 1 feeder league to the NHL and the caliber of play is consistently high. Most games will include several players with NHL game experience.
Every player currently on the Golden Knights roster but one has played in the AHL at some point. Paul Stastny is the only Golden Knight without AHL time on his resume
Last season, 87 percent of all NHLers had played at least one game in the AHL.
The hockey benefits for having its development affiliate close by are myriad. Management can more easily watch both clubs on a regular basis. Coaching staffs can be more collaborative as can medical and sports performance personnel.
Players can be shuttled back and forth between the two leagues in a much easier fashion. Easy access to players is key and will give the organization an opportunity for better alignment.
Most NHL teams own their own affiliate and it gives them complete control over the development process.
Golden Knights President of Hockey Operations George McPhee oversaw a very successful AHL affiliate relationship when he was GM of the Washington Capitals. The Hershey Bears won three Calder Cups as the primary affiliate of McPhee's Capitals and developed the core of his NHL teams.
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon is one of the most successful operators of a hockey organization outside of the NHL. McCrimmon's family has had an ownership stake in the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings since 1992 and have solely owned the franchise since 2001. McCrimmon's insights will be invaluable for the Golden Knights in running an AHL franchise.
From a fan's standpoint, the club's budding prospects are more readily available to see. The shape of a franchise's future feels more tangible.
Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz operated the Lake Erie Monsters during his time as president of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers overseeing the Monster's run to a Calder Cup championship in the spring of 2015-16.
The AHL has operated continuously since it was founded in 1936.