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Golden Knights 'now part of the League' with uniform unveiled

Adidas jerseys of expansion franchise, other 30 NHL teams displayed in Las Vegas

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

LAS VEGAS -- The cover came off, and there it was, the uniform of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Owner Bill Foley had seen it before. He had helped design it. But now it was center stage for all to see at Intrigue The Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas on Tuesday. Adidas, the new performance outfitter of the NHL, unveiled it along with redesigned uniforms for the League's other 30 teams.

The music played. The spotlights shined. The VIPs stared.

And Foley smiled.

"I think it looks fantastic," Foley said.

The helmet and pants were black. The jersey was steel gray, like the armor of a knight, with black, gold and red accents. In the gold on the sleeve was sagebrush, the Nevada state flower. The gloves were white with a touch of gold.

"Finally," Foley said. "It took us a long time, a long time to go through the naming process, the jersey design. But I'm very happy with the color scheme, the way it looks, the power it evokes. It's a great jersey."

Video: NHL unveils Golden Knights' adidas home jersey

The NHL awarded Foley an expansion franchise almost exactly a year ago, on June 22, 2016. A week and a half later, three adidas executives and two NHL executives flew to Foley's home in Montana to meet with his hockey group, which, at that time, meant Foley and three other people. They had to come up with a name, a narrative, a logo, a color scheme, everything.

Foley brought the first major-league professional sports team to Las Vegas wanting to give the city an identity beyond The Strip. He wanted to build a first-class, winning organization and to draw on his background at the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, where the athletic teams are called the Black Knights.

The knight protects the unprotected. The knight never gives up, never gives in.

"This isn't flash-in-the-pan marketing, values that change year to year," said Jeff Eagles, design director of adidas sports licensed division, who oversees NHL uniforms and authentic apparel. "He wanted something with longevity."

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Both jerseys that we will wear in our inaugural season. #VGKFirstJersey

They settled on the name Golden Knights and the logo, a helmet with an opening the shape of a "V."

"From there we really looked at colors that spoke to Las Vegas and would give him a unique color profile within the League," Eagles said. "I think we've really achieved that with the base color as well as the accent color. Obviously, the primary logo is the purest reflection of the where the name comes from, but it has that golden and that Las Vegas accent to it that makes it something that Las Vegas can own."

Steel gray represents strength and durability; gold the precious metal mined in Nevada; red the Vegas skyline, desert and canyons, symbolizing the readiness to serve; and black power and intensity.

The name, logo and colors were unveiled at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 22, but the uniform was kept under wraps until now, when adidas took over as the NHL's outfitter. Adidas went through a similar process with the other 30 teams, not dictating design changes but working with each team on its brand.

The team with the biggest design change was the Minnesota Wild, which went to a green home jersey with a cream stripe through the middle. Others had more subtle design changes, like the New Jersey Devils, who added bold striping on the sleeves; the Nashville Predators, who went with a cleaner look; and the Edmonton Oilers, who went with orange at home and deeper colors. Many had little to no design changes.

"We really wanted to dial into the core DNA of each team's brand and streamline away some of the excess," Eagles said.

Each team will benefit from the technology of the ADIZERO jerseys, which are lighter, cooler and stronger than the old jerseys, plus adidas training gear.

"I think it's going to be a massive step forward," said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing and chief branding officer. "The great part of adidas is that you get tucked up under a $20 billion business -- design resources, fabric resources, things they're going to do to make our athletes perform better."

It matters to the players. San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns played for Team Canada in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 when adidas outfitted the teams, and he raved about the gear. He also said he forgot to pack a jersey and socks last offseason and had to buy his own jersey and socks at a pro shop at a rink in a small town. The old-school, thick socks were restricting, didn't breathe and soaked up water.

"I was like, 'It's crazy how far it's come,'" Burns said. "I don't think when you're in the moment you realize it as much, but when you have to go back to what you were using before, it's unreal the difference."

To Foley, this makes it feel real. His uniform is alongside the other 30 teams' uniforms. His first Board of Governors meeting is Wednesday. His first roster will be unveiled during the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile in Las Vegas later that day (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).

"Now we're part of the League," Foley said. "This is really fantastic."

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