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Bettman Still Gloating About Vegas’ Success

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Earlier this month NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reminisced about the early stages of Golden Knights history. Bettman discussed the infancy of the franchise, how the inaugural 2017-18 season proved the sporting world wrong, and the emotions the players carried with them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.

Bill Foley has done an amazing job. It starts with the fact that he was in love with the game of hockey, and he believed hockey would work in Las Vegas. Most people at the time thought we were crazy. We had done our homework. Finally, there was a state of the art arena that was built with MGM. We believed based on everything we knew and learned about the market… including a season ticket drive that we let him do, that this market would support a team. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner

None of what Commissioner Bettman said is new to this fanbase, but two and half years later he still finds himself explaining why Vegas was successful from the get-go. Maybe it gets annoying but Bettman has no problem reminding sports fans that the Golden Knights paved the way for the Raiders relocation.

Now everybody thinks, ‘oh sure, we’re going to come Vegas too,’ well that’s not what people were saying initially.-Bettman

What mostly confuses fans of other sports is how the Golden Knights became so good so fast. Also, fans are curious how Vegas has maintained their achievements. Bettman went on to explain the progressive expansion rules that set up for a competitive team immediately. After two playoff bound seasons, it would be tough to envision a bad Golden Knights hockey team. Thankfully, this market didn’t have to suffer from the outdated expansion rules Atlanta, Minnesota, Nashville and Ottawa struggled under. Bettman learned from those teams early troubles and didn’t want Vegas limping from the start.

In every sport when an expansion team comes in, historically the leagues give a weak team to the expansion team. Make them suffer for a few years. What typically happens is the team comes in, there’s the initial enthusiasm in the marketplace, the team continues to underperform, there’s a dissipation of the initial enthusiasm, and about ten years after the team starts they get competitive and then they rebuild. We didn’t want that model. Since we have a model where every team can be competitive, why were we going to bring in a team initially that couldn’t be competitive? Therefore, we had the deepest expansion rules that I think any league has ever had. -Bettman

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Gary Bettman Remains Bullish On Vegas, Golden Knights

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Among the 18,188 in attendance Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena for the Golden Knights-Nashville game was the general manager of the Seattle NHL franchise.

I assume Ron Francis was taking careful notes, both from what he was watching on the ice and what he was seeing inside The Fortress.

He would be wise to do both.

Also in attendance Tuesday, and nearly as conspicuous, was the NHL commissioner.

Yes, Gary Bettman was in the house and he kept a low profile, lest he get the crap booed out of him by the Medieval Maniacs who may never forgive him for the performance of his officials in Game 7 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last April.

Do Knights fans have long memories? Hell yes they do.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

What was Bettman doing in Las Vegas? He was a speaker at a symposium on sports betting at the Global Gaming Expo Wednesday morning at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. He was in good spirits and rightly so, given nobody booed him and no one asked him about officiating or concussions and CTE.

He was asked about the success of the Golden Knights and what it has meant for the NHL in the team’s brief existence. He was quick with his responses, praising Bill Foley for the job he and his organization have done (Sorry Ken, Bettman did not refer to Foley as “The Creator”).

I asked him if Francis should be paying close attention to what goes on here at T-Mobile.

Seattle is its own market. I think the experience inside T-Mobile Arena is consciousness-raising. But we all know what works in Las Vegas doesn’t necessarily work elsewhere. Seattle is going to have the same opportunities in the Expansion Draft and everything is on schedule and we expect Seattle will be another fantastic NHL experience. -Bettman

For Bettman and the NHL, the growth of sports betting throughout the U.S. is an opportunity to help develop new fans and give existing hockey fans more options to connect to the game. It’s a far cry from 20 years ago when then-Mayor Oscar Goodman paid Bettman a visit in his mid-Manhattan office in an attempt to secure a franchise for Las Vegas and got the cold shoulder.

But timing is everything. The building of a first-class arena, the growth of the area’s population and rising media market and an owner who was willing to put up half a billion bucks all helped change Bettman’s mind. He became an advocate for Las Vegas and had he not backed Foley’s bid, Las Vegas might’ve been Quebec City on the outside looking in.

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Understanding The NHL Draft Lottery

The first time the Vegas Golden Knights will officially participate in an NHL sanctioned “competition” will be at the NHL Draft Lottery on April 29th. With a little help from TSN’s finest Frank Seravalli, the math wizards at, and this thing called Twitter, we unearthed the exact odds the NHL will be using for the 2017 lottery.

For those who are new to the NHL, the lottery is a system that was implemented in 1995 to curb the appeal of tanking. Rather than awarding the team with the worst record in the league the first overall pick (like NFL and MLB) the league instead gives them the best chance to win the lottery. All non-playoff teams are entered into the lottery with their odds to win corresponding to their record; worse the team, better the odds.

The NHL Lottery is actually a series of three lotteries using identical odds to determine the top three selections in the NHL Draft. After the lotteries decide the first three picks, teams are slotted in to the draft order based on their record. Therefore, the worst team can select no lower than fourth in the first round, and are guaranteed the first pick in the second round.

Still with me?

Now let’s move into how the Vegas Golden Knights fit into this year’s lottery.

The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season. –NHL Expansion Draft Rules

Thus, two teams have better odds than the Golden Knights. After the lotteries, Vegas is technically the third worst team meaning they can select no worse than sixth (will explain how in a moment), and are guaranteed to pick third in the second through seventh rounds.

NHL Draft Lottery Odds (courtesy of

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No One But McPhee May Be Able To See Protection Lists, Even Other GMs

This strange saga keeps getting stranger. We’ve long expected the NHL Expansion Draft protections lists to be made public the day the Golden Knights 72 hour draft period begins allowing speculation to dominate the world of sports talk. Then recently we found out the NHL may keep the lists private from the media and the pubic in what would be a giant mistake.

Now, it looks like they may even take it one step further. It’s possible no one but the Golden Knights will get to see the full lists.

The managers have expressed a preference for maintaining the confidentiality of that information. We will make a final decision in due time. There is no rush here. -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

The issue here, I think, is that some GMs are hesitant to let everyone else in the league see how they are ranking or otherwise valuing their own players. I would argue that they already do show their cards when they reveal how they compensate the players in terms of salary. But I suppose that, if lower-paid players end up getting protected over higher-paid players in some cases, teams might not want that kind of naked truth being blatantly blasted out there for posterity. –Pierre LeBrun, ESPN

Before you go nuts about how ridiculous this is, let me take a moment to explain why this is the only way as a Golden Knights fan you should be okay with them not making the lists available to the public.

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Bettman Talks Vegas In Pre All Star Game Presser

Remember the days when every time Gary Bettman spoke we got all excited hoping he would say something significant about the league’s expansion to Las Vegas? We’d pick apart every word trying to get a feel of if it was going to happen, and then when. Well now we’ve got our team, so these pressers are far less interesting, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Bettman touched on the Olympics, said Carolina is not moving, and claimed ads on jerseys were not in the works for the NHL. But he did have a few things to say about the league’s newest child.

So there you have it. All Star Weekend is coming to Vegas…”in the earlier days” of the franchise. When does that mean? First five years? 10? Who knows?

Here’s to hoping the Stanley Cup makes a visit here “in the earlier days” as well.

Golden Knights Unveil Event Recap; Pictures, Videos, Observations

Aside from the video hiccup during the unveil, last night’s unveil party was an absolute hit. From attendance to flare to merchandise the Golden Knights organization really came through in it’s first major stage. Whether you like the name, or the logos, or the colors, the fact is, Las Vegas (or should I say Vegas) is now the Golden Knights. Here’s a look back at the event with some observations, pictures and then a bundle of videos.


  • Almost incredibly neither the logo nor name were leaked until about 3 PM and the leak appeared to be somewhat contained until about an hour before the actual event.
  • The official name is the Vegas Golden Knights, not the Las Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Personally, of the three possible adjectives Golden was my least favorite. I’m indifferent on the choice of Vegas over Las Vegas, the color scheme looks good but I’m hoping for more “Red Rock Red” when the jerseys come out, and I absolutely love the logos.
  • The main helmet logo features the exact same V from the script in the word Vegas in the official team name font.
  • The Vegas star makes multiple appearances, first as the inspiration for the secondary logo, and second next to the word Vegas and above Golden Knights on almost all apparel.
  • There is not an official attendance, but estimates put the number somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000. My guess is closer to 5 than 3.
  • The lasting image, which I’m told was not shown on or NHL Network, was the New York New York parking garage being lined on every floor by fans watching the event. There are a few pictures of it below.
  • There were also plenty of windows open across the street at Monte Carlo getting a birds eye view.
  • Here is the link to the video that didn’t play. The story on that is still a bit of a mystery. It began playing on both the small screen and on the arena LEDs, then the small screen went to an image that said “Placeholder Vegas Hockey” and the sound cut out. The video continued playing on the big screen on the arena before they eventually cut that. The word Golden Knights did appear on the arena before they did the countdown. Then, they went back to the video and it once again did not play on either screen. Then they brought The Creator back up and asked him for a countdown. Most believed that was for the video, but instead, that was for the actual naming of the team. Pretty much an epic disaster, but it’ll be forgotten in a few days or so. The name and logos will be what people remember.
  • The countdown from 10 to 1 before they announced the name featured white letters with gold and red trim. Possibly hint to jersey numbers?
  • The Maverick helicopter, which dropped a ton of shirts onto the crowd arrived on time, but because of the video glitch had to circle and added to the sound issues many in the back described to us.
  • All in all, the event should be qualified as a major success, but because many don’t like the name, colors, and logos, it will likely be ridiculed all over the web. Welcome to the Internet!


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GM Meetings In Toronto; Vegas Still Not Invited

Here we go again. Two months ago, NHL owners met for another round of the Board of Governors and their newest colleague, The Creator, was not invited. The reason given was because the final payments had yet to be made, so he was not technically an owner yet.

Well, they’ve finally put a name on this ridiculousness calling it, “franchise rights” and now it’s affecting GM George McPhee.

Noticeably absent from the GMs meeting was Las Vegas GM George McPhee. The Vegas expansion team doesn’t yet have “franchise rights” until their transaction to enter the league officially closes, which is expected sometime in the spring. In other words, not until their final payment on that $500 million expansion fee is made. –Pierre LeBrun, ESPN

Earlier this month we heard from The Creator himself on Sportsbook Radio saying he’s planning on “accelerating the payment” which should come before the March GM meetings. But he also mentioned something else that really shouldn’t go unnoticed.

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Creator Not Invited To Board Of Governors Meeting This Week

In an interview with Steve Carp of the RJ, The Creator revealed he will not be attending the NHL’s Board of Governors meeting scheduled for this Friday. The reason given was because he has not fully paid off the ridiculous $500 million entry fee the league required to award Las Vegas a franchise.

Last September all the news surrounding the Board of Governors meeting was about the official presentations of Las Vegas and Quebec City. But they also took a look at early returns on 3v3 overtime, concussion protocols, coaches challenges, and more. All important aspects that will affect the Las Vegas TBA Knights when they hit the ice in October.

The Creator’s lost invitation is just another example of the league not doing any favors to help promote their newest organization. Right now on, the only mention of Las Vegas is a news aggregate box way down on the right side. Any time you see a team list, Las Vegas is not there. Head over to the shop, Las Vegas is no where to be found. Of course, there’s nothing to sell and nothing to really show, but would it not make sense to have placeholders? A little greyed out name that says Las Vegas. A shop that says coming soon. These are little things that keep the new franchise front of mind, something the NHL seems uninterested in doing.

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League Officially Announces Expansion, NHL Coming To Las Vegas!

The moment we’ve been waiting for is finally here! NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced the league is expanding to Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas franchise owned by The Creator, Bill Foley, will become the 31st franchise in the NHL and will begin play in 2017-18 in the Western Conference.

They will play their games at the brand new T-Mobile Arena located in between New York New York and Monte Carlo on the South end of the iconic Las Vegas Strip. The team will become the first professional sports franchise in the history of Las Vegas.

Expansion talks involving Las Vegas date as far back as 2007, but the current ownership group first began its push for a team in 2014. The NHL gave The Creator the go-ahead to launch a ticket drive on February 10th of last year. That ticket drive hit the 10,000 seat goal within a few months and currently sits just north of 14,000.

The Creator formally submitted an application for expansion on June 20th and less than a year later and no fewer than 5,000 mentions of “the process,” Las Vegas finally has its first major professional sports franchise.

A team name contest is expected to be held shortly (#VoteRatPack) and the team colors are expected to be black, gold and grey.

Today is a monumental day in the history of Las Vegas and all the credit goes to one man, The Creator, Bill Foley. On behalf of myself, Dana, Jason, and the entire family, we would like to say Thank You. Now it’s time to bring the Stanley Cup to Vegas!!!

Quotes coming soon. First, we party!

How To Watch/Listen To Tomorrow’s NHL Presser

Tomorrow is set to be a historic day for the city of Las Vegas as the NHL is scheduled to officially announce expansion to Sin City.

Gary Bettman will hold a special press conference in advance of the NHL Awards. It will take place at 1PM Pacific time from the Encore at the Wynn Hotel.

In the US, the event will likely be carried on NHL Network (TV), but to be safe our friends at the RJ are streaming it live on their Facebook. It’s also expected to be aired live on Sirius XM’s NHL Network Radio.

For Canadians, SportsNet TV is airing the press conference in it’s entirety and it will likely be on streamed on their website as well. Here’s the link to their live feed.

Check back on this page tomorrow at around noon or so, we’ll be sure to update this with working links to stream the event online.

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