Las Vegas owner Bill Foley said Friday that "Nighthawks is a beautiful name" as the expansion team comes closer to an announcement on what it will be called.
Las Vegas registered the nicknames Nighthawks, Desert Hawks and Red Hawks, Foley told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, but likely has eliminated two from that list.
"Nighthawks is still a name we're considering, though we are probably not going to go with the others," Foley told the newspaper Friday after reports surfaced that he had eliminated all three.
Foley also told the newspaper he registered two more names. He would not reveal them, but said they are in play for the final decision.
Foley acknowledged a similarity to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the NHL and Blackhawks were aware of the situation.
"It's two completely separate things," Foley said. "...Nighthawks honors a bird that is in Las Vegas and a fighter aircraft from an air force base in Las Vegas (Nellis Air Force Base). I think Nighthawks is a beautiful name."
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Las Vegas, which begins play in the 2017-18 NHL season, narrowed its search last week from a possible 18 nicknames submitted for approval.
Foley said in an interview earlier this week his goal is to have a nickname, logo and color scheme in place before two NHL preseason games are played at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 7 and 8 (the Los Angeles Kings play the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche).
Nighthawks was used by the former American Hockey League franchise in New Haven, Conn., which existed from 1972-92.
"[The name] should represent Las Vegas, represent the environment," Foley said July 13. "It should be unique to Las Vegas, but it needs to be a name that people hear the name and say, 'These guys are tough. These guys are going to win. These guys are dedicated.' It needs to have that kind of momentum, that kind of philosophy behind the name. And that's why some names just don't make it for me."
Las Vegas pursued Black Knights and Knights as a potential nickname. Foley said the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, his alma mater, had objections to the use of Black Knights, the school's nickname for its athletic teams. There also were trademark issues with Knights and the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
The NHL awarded Las Vegas an expansion team on June 22.