The Vegas Golden Knights are welcoming Daren Millard, Mike McKenna and Stormy Buonantony to their broadcast team for the 2019-20 season. They'll join Dave Goucher, Shane Hnidy, Dan D'Uva and Gary Lawless as the team's on-air talent covering the Golden Knights on television and radio.
To hear any of them tell it, the broadcast "team" is more of a family. The camaraderie among the group that brings Golden Knights fans the team's games and latest news adds a personal element to each broadcast that has made the viewer feel like he or she is right there in the rink.
Joining, learning from and adding to that family is something Buonantony said means the world to her in terms of personal and professional growth.
"Moving into the Golden Knights organization, I can't wait to learn from some really incredible broadcasters and people who are filled with incredible hockey knowledge and knowledge about this team," said Buonantony. "They know everything about this team inside and out from the inception to day one to now. Soaking in as much information as I can from them is going to be the most rewarding thing in the world."
Buonantony is a Las Vegas native and, while her roots make her Vegas Born, she's not the only new face that has history with the city. McKenna, who recently retired from professional hockey where he was a goalie for 14 years, began his pro career in the ECHL with the Las Vegas Wranglers and said his time in Las Vegas was different than any other hockey experience he had during his career.
"I feel like I'm coming full-circle here," said McKenna. "I've always had this feeling that when my career was over it would be really fun to go back to Vegas and play a game or two and call it a career. When the Wranglers went away, I thought 'Well, that's not going to happen.' And then the Golden Knights came around and lo and behold I'm going out to become a broadcaster in Vegas where my career started."
McKenna has taken the ice in front of the Vegas fans before and, while it was not for the Golden Knights, he said he saw the passion for hockey that the residents of the city had even at the ECHL level. From when he stood between the pipes at the Orleans Arena in front of crowds of 7,777 to his recent visit to the city, he's seen firsthand how that interest in the game has blossomed into an unconditional love for the Golden Knights.
"When I was out there recently, I saw license plates, banners and t-shirts," said McKenna. "You can see that the whole city is behind the team."
The claim that "the whole city is behind the team" is one that very few people would argue against. Millard saw that for himself on two separate occasions. First, he heard the cheers at T-Mobile Arena during the 2017 Expansion Draft when he and Kathryn Tappen hosted the event which announced the first players in team history. More recently, Millard was a guest host for two Golden Knights games last season and he was most struck by the connection he felt among each fan at The Fortress.
"It's really tough to meet expectations in any dynamic in the world," Millard said. "For those who haven't been to T-Mobile and have only seen it on TV, you hear about the atmosphere. It's hard to meet those expectations but, when I was there, my expectations were met, passed and blown away. I was so impressed by the interaction with the fans."
During his time in Vegas last season, Millard joined Goucher, Hnidy, D'Uva and Lawless on the Sheriff, Lawless and Some Guy Named Dave podcast where they discussed the Mark Stone trade and talked about what lied ahead for the Golden Knights in late February. Sitting with friends and talking hockey was not a foreign activity for Millard. In fact, it's part of what made him the broadcaster that he is today. He said the simplicity of talking about the team with sharp hockey minds and no time restraint was right in his wheelhouse and that he's excited to add to the #SLGND podcast going forward.
"The best part about it for me is that I learn something every time I talk to those guys," said Millard. "It will be a great benefit to be able to pick their brains on a daily basis."
As the Golden Knights enter their third season in the NHL, Millard said it's easy to look back with excitement on the team's two years of success under its belt. That success promises to build as the team begins year three and Millard is excited to see the organization continue to grow.
"It's really impressive that a team that's only two years in can be a trendsetter," said Millard. "That just doesn't happen in the world of sports and very rarely in business. I'm really excited to be part of that and my whole goal is to help maintain the excellence in the broadcast. I would like the broadcast to be thought of as the best in the business much like how the team is thought of as one of the best in the business. I want people to talk about the Golden Knights as having the best team, the best environment and the best broadcast in the league."
Millard's admiration for the success the team has had in Vegas is something that has expanded rapidly as the Golden Knights have strived for success in all areas of the hockey business since joining the NHL in 2017. Eyeballs have been fixed on Vegas since the announcement of the team, but before rumors of expansion to the desert ever floated, there was no major professional sports to in the city to dream of working for. It couldn't have been a dream job for a young Buonantony at Palo Verde High School, but she said she has landed something more than that.
"I think that people use the term 'dream job' a little bit too loosely," Buonantony said. "I think this is better than a dream job because when I was going through school, this wasn't even a possibility. This job didn't exist. To be able to become an ambassador and be part of an organization that now means so much to me, my family and my community, it's the most special thing in the world."