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Las Vegas nearing conclusion of name game

Desert Hawks, Nighthawks among possibilities for expansion team, but owner Bill Foley not giving any clues

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @Cotsonika / Columnist

Watch out for the Las Vegas Red Herrings.

Bill Foley, owner of the NHL expansion franchise that will play in Las Vegas starting in 2017-18, has filed trademark applications for several nicknames: Desert Hawks, Red Hawks, Nighthawks, Desert Knights, Silver Knights and Golden Knights.

He said Friday he had a "preferred name" the NHL had cleared and a "secondary name based upon the other ones."

He also admitted he had included fakes as a misdirection ploy.

"I have," he said with a laugh over the phone. "I think it's irritating a few people."

The name game should end soon.

Las Vegas had its third webinar with Adidas, the NHL's official outfitter of uniforms and licensed apparel starting in 2017-18, on Thursday. Foley said they have the general color schemes and themes in place and "a logo that we like that needs more refinement."

In eight or nine days, Las Vegas will have another webinar with Adidas, and Foley said they will be "really, really close."

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In mid-October, around the start of the regular season, Foley said he hopes to announce the name, logo and color scheme, and sell merchandise such as hats and T-shirts. Jerseys probably won't go on sale until December.

"In the meantime, it's creating a lot of excitement in Las Vegas," Foley said with another laugh. "I mean, all I do is get harassed every day by people who have a name idea or, 'Use this name,' or, 'What's the name going to be?' It's in the news all the time, so we're front of mind."

What's in a name?

This will be Las Vegas' first major professional sports franchise; Foley wants to use this opportunity to give the area an identity other than The Strip and the team an identity to build upon. He has a military background and sees parallels with hockey in the camaraderie and teamwork.

"My goal is to really have a culture that has a military origin to it, of loyalty, strength, perseverance," he said. "We never stop trying. We never give up. We never give in. That kind of culture.

"That's really what I'm trying to do with the name and the logo, and I believe once that gets accomplished, guys that come and play for our team, if we pick the right type of players, they are going to embrace that culture and they are going to feel kind of a strength and power from being part of that organization.

"That's why I've been pretty stubborn about various names and trying to keep it coming back to what I think I really want this team to represent. This is my one chance to do it."

Foley's first choice was Black Knights, the nickname of the athletic teams of his alma mater, the United States Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y. But he received pushback from Army and from people who didn't know the Black Knight is a good guy. He protects those who can't protect themselves.

He has received all sorts of suggestions from all sorts of people, from Aces to Blackjacks to Crappers to Scorpions to Snapping Turtles. Some have been discarded immediately because of their ties to gambling. Some have been discarded immediately because, well, they just don't work.

"You would like your team to be named that?" Foley said.

Some have received serious consideration, like Aces, which could have tied into a local Air Force base, and Scorpions.

"Aces is pretty good," Foley said. "We could produce some pretty interesting logos. I was kind of focused on a little different direction than Aces. A lot of people like Scorpions, but the scorpion is a defensive animal. We're not going to be defensive. So I didn't want that."

Why not simply Knights? Trademarks have been a complicating factor, but Foley said he didn't have a problem with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He never really talked to the London ownership about it. He has wanted a two-word name.

Wait -- Sand Knights is two words. That name has popped up in rumors recently. Is Sand Knights a possibility?

"No," Foley said. "Never was."

And so it likely will be Desert Hawks, Red Hawks, Nighthawks, Desert Knights, Silver Knights or Golden Knights. We think.

Good luck guessing. Foley isn't telling.

"I found I had to be very, very careful about what I said, because as soon as I mentioned a direction, then everyone picked up on it," he said. "It would get in the news and then people would start filing domain name registrations for that particular name. That's why I've been kind of circumspect lately. It's been interesting.

"It's been fun too."

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