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No more worries, for now, for Vegas Golden Knights

After months of tinkering, owner Bill Foley believes name, logo, colors were perfect choice

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

Bill Foley sweated this moment for months -- the name, the logo, the colors -- every detail, every shade of what we now know are steel gray, gold, red and black.

The owner of Las Vegas' NHL expansion franchise, the city's first major-league sports team, wanted to give Las Vegas an identity beyond The Strip. He knew he had one chance to get it right.

So he listened to ideas. He looked at prototypes. He delayed and refined, and delayed and refined again.

And finally, exactly five months after the NHL awarded him the franchise, less than 11 months before his team's first game, it was time.

Foley stood on stage at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and general manager George McPhee before 5,000 fans, with several thousand more unable to squeeze into the area, as the name was announced:

Vegas Golden Knights.

On the video screen behind him was the logo, a helmet with an opening in the shape of a 'V' for Vegas, and the colors: steel gray for strength and durability; gold for the precious metal found in Nevada; red for the Vegas skyline, desert and canyons, also symbolic of the readiness to serve; and black for power and intensity, according to the team.

A graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where the athletic teams are called the Black Knights, Foley drew on his background to establish the culture of his organization.

"The Knight protects the unprotected," he told the crowd. "The Knight defends the realm. The Knight never gives up, never gives in, always advances, never retreats, and that's what our team's going to be."

Video: Golden Knights owner Bill Foley on the teams future

Yes, everyone has an opinion on the name, logo and colors.

But as McPhee pointed out, this is the embryonic stage of an evolution he expects to have a competitive stage, a contending stage and a championship stage. Eventually, people get used to names, logos and colors. They grow up with them, forget or never realize how they came to be in the first place. Ideally, winning makes them special.

Remember: The Nashville Predators came from a naming contest, but after coach Barry Trotz flipped through a Canadian Hockey League guide, found a team called the Granby Predateurs, thought the Nashville Predators sounded "pretty decent" and made the suggestion.

The Anaheim Ducks originally were the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, named for a Disney movie. The Calgary Flames originally were the Atlanta Flames, named for the burning of Atlanta by the Union army in the Civil War.

The New York Rangers have been the New York Rangers for 90 years. The Blueshirts are NHL blue bloods. But the nickname Rangers has nothing to do with New York. George Daley, the sports editor of the New York Herald Tribune, called the players "Tex's Rangers" after George Lewis "Tex" Rickard, president of Madison Square Garden, and the name stuck.

Video: Bill Foley on the choosing of team name and logo

When Pittsburgh's NHL expansion franchise announced its name during a dinner at the swanky Pittsburgh Athletic Club in 1967, people laughed.

"Can you imagine trying to promote a team whose nickname is the Penguins?" publicity director Joe Gordon said, according to the book "Tales from the Pittsburgh Penguins" by Joe Starkey. "A penguin isn't the most graceful animal on the face of the earth. It waddles."

Many fans wanted Hornets, the nickname of Pittsburgh's longtime American Hockey League team. Even the team's first coach, Red Sullivan, mocked Penguins.

"I can see it now," he told reporters then. "The day after we play a bad game, the sportswriters will say: 'They skated like a bunch of nuns.'"

Well, how did that turn out? Can you imagine the NHL without the Penguins now? This is the team of Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby, a four-time winner of the Stanley Cup, the reigning champion.

In time, people will shorten Golden Knights to Knights in casual conversation. Fans will chant, "Let's go Knights!" or, "Go Knights go!"

Video: NHL Tonight: Bettman discusses the Golden Knights

Knights is a classic name, used by many teams in many variations in many sports, including by London of the Ontario Hockey League. In fact, it was almost used in the NHL already. When San Jose's NHL expansion franchise held a naming contest, Sharks won. But one of the many runners-up? Knights.

"Now we have an identity," Foley told NHL Network while wearing a hat with the new logo. "Now our hockey club has a name, has a logo. I'm looking up there at T-Mobile, seeing our logo spread across, the Vegas Golden Knights."

The challenge is to live up to what it is supposed to represent, to make fans connect with it, to make it something of which the city can be proud. But Foley has an experienced GM, a hungry staff, a first-class arena, a first-class practice facility under construction and fans who already have committed to season tickets by the thousands. He said he wants to win the Stanley Cup in six years.

"We're thrilled," Foley told NHL Network. "We're happy. I mean, we're excited."

Name one reason not to be.

Video: Foley and McPhee on the Golden Knights' future plans

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