While Las Vegas is surprisingly no stranger to hockey teams, an NHL one has eluded the city up to now. That might change very soon, with a season-ticket drive to gauge interest by prospective owner Bill Foley having been approved by the league. So, a name for this to-be franchise must obviously now be thought up… with maybe one or two steps in between.
According to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, whom Foley spoke to on the matter, there will be a contest to name the team, assuming it of course gets to that point. However, it’s worth noting, Foley, the billionaire chairman of Fidelity National Financial Inc., has come up with an option himself. And, with it, we’ll start off our list of 10 potential names for a new NHL franchise in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Black Knights
A West Point graduate, Foley favors the United States Military Academy’s team nickname. West Point is however all the way in New York State and the closest U.S. service academy to Vegas it seems is the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs (Falcons).
So, while it’s an interesting stab (with a sword, obviously), the only real connection to Vegas here seems to be Foley. And if he’s going to insist on adding on a color to an already perfectly suitable team nickname (am I right, Londoners?), why not go with perhaps the most obvious, nevertheless still creative one out there?
The name of the popular card game (we are talking about Vegas after all), “Blackjacks” has to at least be considered. No? Does it also help that “Jack” is the first syllable of the word “Jackpot”?
Probably not… But it doesn’t hurt either.
One-Eyed Jacks, in reference to the popular wildcard, could in theory be considered as well, but that’s also the name of a popular brothel on the 90s television show Twin Peaks. Frankly, the team just wouldn’t need that kind of negative association. Seriously. It will already have that negative association in spades.
If we’re going for wildcards, the popular saying “Aces are wild” can definitely be ripped off, especially with just “Aces” already taken by a former Las Vegas Pacific Southwest Hockey League (and current Alaskan ECHL) team.
The only problem here is Minnesota’s already got a team named the Wild. And that could get confusing for, I guess, some people prone to tuning out after random words in sentences.
So, how about a compromise? Minnesota can keep the Wild. Las Vegas can have the—drum roll, please….
“Sinners” seems a bit too on the nose for a team based out of “Sin City.” So why not ironically flip the concept on its head and add on a verb to the beginning? It’s worked before, with not one, but two former World Hockey Association teams based out of Saint Paul (and a United States Hockey League one out of Dubuque, Iowa) bearing the same name. And I use the term “worked” very lightly.
The first Minnesota team played a “total” of four seasons from 1972-76, but failed to finish that fourth season, folding due to financial struggles. The second was a replacement team that originated as the Cleveland Crusaders and moved to Saint Paul, becoming the “New” Fighting Saints for the 1976-77 season… but they failed to finish that single season, folding, you guessed it, due to financial struggles as well.
There’s also a precedent here, with the Atlanta Thrashers taking on the name of a former franchise upon their move to Winnipeg to become the Jets a few years ago. If nothing else, if it fights back from certain death once again, the name will probably forever live in infamy as one of the most apt in NHL history.
Looking up Nevada’s state information is almost a futile exercise here. For example:
-The state animal is the Bighorn Sheep, and you can’t name a team after sheep, and not just because it’s a friggin’ sheep. No one will know how to pluralize it.
-“Bighorns” might work, but the Reno Bighorns are a team in the National Basketball Association Developmental League.
-The state bird is the Mountain Bluebird, but you’ve already got the St. Louis Blues.
-The state fish is the Lahontan cutthroat trout, and, while “Cutthroats” would be undeniably awesome, I’m pretty sure there would be someone out there who would take offense… likely actual trouts for eliminating the actual animal name from the moniker. Word is they’re a very proud species.
Even Nevada’s “Silver State” nickname evokes thoughts of second place… unless you tack on “backs” at the tail end of the color. Then it evokes thoughts of an absolutely vicious predator… with prematurely greying hair around its buttocks.
It’s admittedly a bit corny, but Nevada is renowned for desert land. And any hockey team whose name has the syllable “score” in it will never get shut out according to league by-laws. I’m guessing anyway. Just look at the Santa Fe Scorch. Never got shut out. Not once. I mean, them never having existed is a slight technicality, but the logic is sound. I think.
While “Rattlers” is admittedly the name of a former Western States Hockey League team based out of Nevada, you have to admit by the same token it’s a pretty awesome name. Rattlesnakes are dangerous, are common in Nevada, make a cool sound, and the potential logo has “Snake Eyes” written all over it.
Granted, snake eyes is a low roll and actually synonymous with bad luck, but I’m not suggesting to name the team after the term. Just the mascot… who will without question end up wearing bad-ass camouflage military gear…. assuming no one—especially me—gets into legal trouble with Hasbro.
The opposite of snake eyes, rolling boxcars means getting two sixes. It may not have the clearest link to Vegas aside from that, but it does convey parts of a whole, i.e., a team, which in this specific case would be a train. Granted, it’s a stretch, but at least it’s better than calling the team the Las Vegas Craps. I mean, boxcars is definitely less funny. But undeniably better.
Suggested in passing by Thomas Drance at The Score, the Las Vegas Stakes might actually work. It’s short. It’s catchy. It sounds exactly like steaks, and who doesn’t like those? No one, that’s who (aside from vegetarians and vegans… and other people who don’t actually like steaks for whatever reason). It also sounds exactly and is spelled like stakes, as in the wooden variety, as in… hockey sticks. Am I right?
It just works on so many levels. Especially that steak one.
If it’s a name good enough for a 1990’s Canadian rock band, who’s to say it wouldn’t work for a hockey team? More importantly, what NHL player on an opposing team wouldn’t want to play the odds? Thomas Vanek excluded of course. He’s a given. He likes any odds.
So, ask yourself this: What are the odds? Only the best eventual NHL expansion team ever… at least in theory, assuming the city does in fact end up getting a team.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.