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Posted by on Mar 2, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas | 14 comments

Vegas Golden Knights: The Worst Team Nickname in the NHL



Yesterday, it became official.

The “Vegas Golden Knights” will join the National Hockey League as an expansion franchise.  The first puck drops during the 2017-18 season, about eight months from now.

As a transplanted Las Vegan (15 years here, and counting) and a dedicated sports fan, this is exciting news.  Aside from gambling, I’m a big believer in professional sports as a conduit of unity.  When managed well and integrated smartly into urban landscapes, sports teams can be a wonderful force to enliven the spirit of communities.  Sports brings people together.


Unfortunately, the first major decision made by this new franchise was a colossal mistake.  Cringe worthy, even.

New team owner Bill Foley decided to call his franchise the “Vegas Golden Knights.”  Not the Las Vegas Golden Knights, mind you — which would have been only half as bad.  Just plain old “Vegas,” like the hopelessly dated television show back during the disco era, starring feather-haired Dan Tanna.  V-E-G-A-S, baby.  That name is about as thrilling as a brown leisure suit with a pair of bell bottoms.

When asked to explain why he insists on calling his new team “Vegas” for short, Foley’s reply was jaw-dropping.

“People that live here call themselves Vegas,” Foley said at a press conference held last November when the official team name was first announced.  ” ‘Where you from?  Vegas.’  They don’t say ‘Las Vegas.”

Um, yes we do.  We say Las Vegas.

Given my own experience, combined with lots of travel over the past ten years, I’ve come into direct contact with as many people who actually live in Las Vegas as anyone who’s engaged in a public role.  I also encounter hundreds of visitors from other places who come to Las Vegas.  By an overwhelming margin, those of us who live here consistently refer to our city as “LAS VEGAS.”

Want know who refers to us simply as “Vegas?”  Here’s your answer:  Tourists.  Punks who get off discounted flights at McCarran with $1,500 in their pocket along with a can’t-lose craps system.  Pretenders.  Suckers about to get fleeced.  Guys (and girls) who act like they fit into the local scene, but who wouldn’t know the Golden Knights from the Golden Nugget, or even the Golden Coral.  Oh, and Bill Foley too, who reportedly lives full-time — not here in Las Vegas — but in that hockey haven Jacksonville, Florida but still insists he knows how we all talk out here.

Look at it this way.  No one would dare call an NHL team the York Rangers, or the Jose Sharks, or the Angeles Kings.  So, why would we allow our city’s name to be lacerated?  Try calling the major league baseball team based in Northern California the “Frisco Giants,” and see the response you’d get from the locals.

As bad as that decision was to downsize our city’s proper name, the team nickname is even worse.  Question — what’s the first thing you think of that’s associated with Las Vegas?  Obviously, the correct answer is casinos and gambling.  We could have been called the “Aces.”  In an online poll, 42 percent of those who responded favored the name “Aces” — which was double the popularity of any other nickname.  Another option would have been to select an animal native to this region, which is quite common with many sports franchises.

Aside from Aces, the ideal animal team name would have been the Las Vegas Scorpions.  That name is perfect.  First, the creature is native to our area.  Second, the scorpion is an aggressive and masculine predator, quite fitting for a feisty hockey team.  And, the tail of the scorpion is an artist’s dream-come-true from a logo and marketing standpoint.  Who doesn’t see a hockey stick within the long tail of a scorpion ready to fire off a slap shot?  One can see the future dream headline now:  “Scorpions Sting Penguins and Win Stanley Cup”

So, what was Foley’s reaction to “Scorpions” when it was proposed?

“A lot of people like Scorpions, but the scorpion is a defensive animal,” Foley said last year.  “We’re not going to be defensive.  So I didn’t want that.”

Scorpion….a defensive animal?

So please tell us, what in the hell is a golden knight?  A guy wearing a face guard standing and guarding a castle surrounded by a moat — sounds like a defensive posture to me.  Bobby Orr must be rolling his eyes somewhere.

Call me cynical, but the name that was ultimately selected sounds awfully close to “Black Knight Financial Services,” the private company of which Foley is the proud Chairman and CEO.  Gee, isn’t that grand?   Dishing out the team name to a corporation based 2,500 miles away that has no connection whatsoever to Las Vegas or its citizens, unless Foley’s company just so happens to be gobbling up properties at a foreclosure.  Sorry if I don’t get all excited about a team name that seems so dubiously linked to the owner’s mortgage and real estate company.

Oh, and then there’s the subjugation of Nevada to California.  Since they’ll play within the same conference, a natural rivalry is likely to develop between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  The trouble is — aren’t knights under the command of kings?  Another thing — isn’t Nevada the SILVER state?  What’s California?  Oh, that’s right — the GOLDEN state.

This team name makes no sense at all.

Of course, no one should be surprised by this.  Bonehead owners are to professional sports what peanut butter is to jelly.  One naturally attracts the other.  Unfortunately in professional sports — stubborn ownership, gross mismanagement, and indifference to fans’ expectations portends both on- and off-the-ice disaster.

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen with the NHL’s new franchise, which will play all of its home games here in LAS Vegas.

Move aside, “Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.”  When it comes to the worst team name in all of professional sports, you’ve now moved one spot up from the bottom.


Note 1:  The NHL team changed their official name to the Anaheim Ducks in 2006.

Note 2:  Foley reportedly wanted to name his team the “Black Knights,” after his Alma mater, Army (West Point).  However, there were copyright concerns.  However, explanation exists that I’ve seen that accounts for Las Vegas usurping the team nickname of the University of Central Florida, which has been Knights and Golden Knights.  



  1. Horrible name and already used by Clarkson. An offensive native american reference would be better: “The Pale-Faced Paiutes” or something.

  2. I say Vegas all the time. So fucking what? I do however love the name Scorpions and that logo was perfect!

    • Nolan Replies:

      Proves my point, exactly. You DO NOT live here, and admit to using VEGAS. We in LAS VEGAS don’t do that. The team owner simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about and has no concept of the local culture and customs.

      — ND

      • True Nolan, I live in Reno. So when you come here, you can just say, “I’m going to No!”

  3. nolan, for the first time in a good bit i completely agree with your synopsis. one point though, as to the name aces, the nhl did prefer the nickname not involve gambling so aces was never really considered. all this being said, the franchise has bigger problems. the marketing thus far is putrid. the puck drops in seven months and you still can’t buy a game jersey. hats and tee-shirts are around but there’s nothing like an authentic game jersey. in addition, it took far too long to decide on the name. they lost costly marketing time because of a lack of nickname.

    i hope this venture succeeds, i really do. not only because i purchased season tickets but it would benefit the community. that being said i would make a price of -200 that the golden knights will be gone by 2030.

    • Nolan Replies:

      Thanks for the comments, Goose. I’d like to hear more, when you have the moment to share. I might even post a follow up to this, with comments from you included. So, perhaps you could tailor your comments accordingly, if you wish to share.

      I wasn’t aware of the dismal job the franchise has done with marketing. That’s an eye opener. However, once the puck drops, won’t that pretty much be forgotten?

      Your saying that LVGN probably won’t survive 15 years is also quite interesting. Are you suggesting: (1) The NHL has overreached and may contract (reducing number of teams)? Or, do you believe the team will find greener pastures elsewhere? (2) Will attendance suffer here, since the team is expected to struggle for the first few seasons? Will fans show up to watch the LVGN play the Calgary Flames in May? Also, how important are ticket sales versus actual attendance? I suppose the seats might all sell out given the casino comp route. Your thoughts? (3) Finally, from what you know of the contract, will games be televised (FREE) in the local market? Road games? How about home games? I’m not familiar with NHL blackout rules, of any.

      Thanks for whatever you can share. I presume others might be interested, also.

      — ND

  4. Good call on the description of those who say Vegas. I would say that some fly by night Herbalife scammer would also say “Vegas”. That is the type of person who says Vegas.

    They put so much time and effort into it, that it is comical that they came up with such a dumb name. Should have just gone with Las Vegas Scorpions, or Las Vegas Wildcats. I mean, if you are going to get cute, come up with a good name, but they would have been better off just using a regular name like Scorpions or Wildcats.

    And Vegas Golden Knights is hard to remember. If you polled 100 people from Las Vegas about what the name is right now, I bet half wouldn’t get it right. They would say Las Vegas first, or just Vegas Knights. Actually Vegas Knights would have been much better. It is a fucking joke, but what can you do?

  5. Las Vegas Scorpions was perfect (as was that logo). Good god almighty how can you look at that Scorpion logo and not think that it fits perfectly? A little mischievous, and dangerous. That is Las Vegas! Their choice of name makes you want to root against them no matter where you you are from.

    • Agree. Perfect!

  6. Im born and raised here in Las Vegas, not Vegas! Never have I referred to my hometown only using Vegas… that said I hate the team name. Makes me think of ohhh I don’t know maybe Golden Showers. Good job screwing up a simple thing

  7. Actually, I can think of way worse names. How about the Ace [in the] holes? Or the Royal Flushers? 🙂

  8. In deference to Las Vegas citizens, I’m hopeful their first Pro team won’t be as big a dud as Atlanta’s 2nd or Columbus’ 1st NHL teams were and have been.

    But I doubt it. “Vegas Golden Knights” is a mouthful of a name, a terrible choice forced down the throats of potential fans by a hard-headed owner…and worse, they’re going to look awful and BE awful for the next three-to-five years.

    Potential expansion signings look pathetic, over-the-hill, ne’er-has-been’s, and already a (?) KHL signing for way too much.

    Las Vegas Scorpions doesn’t sound original at all. But it’s light-years ahead of what they have, now. AND it’s very relevant to the city and it’s habitat. How about those “Vegas” Raiders, will they steal all the fans away come kick-off?

  9. Rat pack, plaeyrs or playboys! !!!!

  10. Hard to believe, but the Golden Knights turned out to be a great name, and Scorpions, though at the time, seemingly a better name, now seems pedestrian.

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