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Pokey Reddick Delighted By Golden Knights' Arrival

The popular Thunder alumni still calls the Las Vegas area home

by Cutler Klein @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The year is 1994.

Clark County, Nevada boasts a population of just under one million people, "I Swear" by All-4-One is the song of the summer and Pokey Reddick is playing goaltender for the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder.

Flash forward to 2017, the county's population has more than doubled, and Reddick is thrilled to see the Vegas Golden Knights and NHL hockey ready to debut.

According to Reddick, who has resided in Vegas for the last 23 years or so, it's been a long time coming for the community.

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"I think they've been ready a few years back, actually," Reddick told VegasGoldenKnights.com "It's just a matter of who would come in and do it. With Bill Foley coming in and stepping up and doing it now, they've always been hungry for a national team, whatever that sport may be, and it happened to be hockey, which is awesome. They were ready for a national sporting team to support."

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The Thunder were a minor-league franchise in Las Vegas from 1993 to 1999, playing their home games at UNLV's Thomas and Mack Center. Even though Vegas didn't have quite the population that it has today in 1994, the community still came out and supported the Thunder.

"It's totally different, but they embraced us," Reddick said. "We did a lot of community stuff with the police, the fire department, and just going to schools and stuff like that. The community was really behind us in that aspect of being there to support us. It was kind of cool."

Reddick, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, played for 14 professional teams in his career, including stints with the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers. He was a member of the Oilers' 1990 Stanley Cup championship team. His playing career took him everywhere from Vegas to Moncton, New Brunswick to Kansas City to Frankfurt, Germany.

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Once his playing days were over, Reddick returned to Las Vegas and settled with his family. He said that the family community outside of the bright lights of the casinos made it a perfect fit.

"It's a great family thing," he said. "Most people think it's the Strip, but it really isn't. I'm sure you will find that out later on, but the communities are really nice and they're really family-oriented towards families and stuff. It's a great community. I love it. That's why we live here."

 

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Prior to the founding of the Golden Knights in 2016, Las Vegas was the third-largest city in the country (by population) that did not have a major professional sports franchise. With a large population made up of transplants from across the country, it was only a matter of time before a major-league team arrived.

Now, with the Golden Knights just months away from hitting the ice for the first time, Reddick says the hype is palpable.

"It's awesome because, I mean, I played in the league, but you've never seen it grow until you actually live it as a fan," he said. "Watching it develop through the community, through TV, and then the product down at T-Mobile, now they have their practice facility. Kind of watching it in the background and stuff like that, but it's kind of awesome to see."

Reddick's children played youth hockey in Las Vegas, and he has been heavily involved in youth hockey in the city. Now, with a major professional team in town, it'll be even easier for kids to get involved in the game, because they'll have idols to look up to that play right in their backyard.

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"I think now, with the newer kids and the more exposure, you actually have somebody that you turn the TV on and you see that person, that makes a big difference," he said. "Minor league teams are minor league teams, but when you become national, it's totally different."

And as for simply growing the game itself and growing a hockey fan base, Reddick thinks the game will sell itself, much like it did back in the 1990s with the Thunder.

"Hockey is one of those games where once you go see it live, you're normally hooked, so to speak," he said. "I think it'll be huge with the exposure that the Knights bring to the community that some of these other kids that might grab basketball shoes or a football or a baseball, they'll start grabbing sticks and skates and hopefully with more rinks coming in, it'll be a lot easier for these kids to get access to the ice."

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