On Wednesday, it was announced that the National Hockey League would be adding a 31st team to the ranks, this time in Las Vegas. Of the four major professional sports, no team has called Las Vegas their home, but that will change for the 2017-18 season when the team drops the puck at the new T-Mobile Arena just off of the Las Vegas Strip.
Millions of people visit Las Vegas each year and there is already a swelling metro population that has been clamoring for a pro sports team for the past decade after rumors of expansion started up all the way back in 2007. Throughout that time, there have been plenty of detractors who have said that hockey wouldn’t be a good fit for Las Vegas as it’s a “transient population” in a desert state and point to the Coyotes struggling. The problem with that is that more than 10,000 people have already made their deposits on season tickets for the Vegas team.
The team will be owned by billionaire Bill Foley, who paid a fee of $500 million to get them into the NHL. So there is an owner in place, a beautiful $375 million arena in place and a practice facility in nearby Summerlin that will now be built. The only thing that seems to be missing is a name for this team. A lot of ideas have been tossed around for the Las Vegas NHL team, but nothing is set in stone. Let’s take a look at 15 potential names for the team that will make history in Nevada in the fall of 2017.
15 Black Knights
The list starts with the name that seems to be gaining the most traction and appears to be the most likely, the Black Knights. Bill Foley was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point and all of their sports teams go by the same moniker. It seems unoriginal to have a pro sports team named after a college team, but the fact that the company that now owns the Las Vegas team is Black Knight Sports and Entertainment, it appears to be where they are headed with it.
A lot of Las Vegas residents have said that the name is quite unoriginal and doesn’t really fit the city. Especially when you consider that the military base near Las Vegas is an Air Force one, so Falcons would make more sense and it would appear that Foley is naming the team for himself if he goes with Black Knights.
Speaking of the Air Force base in Las Vegas (Nellis Air Force Base), one nickname that makes a lot more sense in terms of tying into the Las Vegas area is the Aces. An ace can refer to someone that is top notch at flying an airplane, which is something that is certainly welcome in the Air Force. A lot of hockey fans in Las Vegas that dislike the Los Angeles Kings are also big fans of the name, since the ace card is the only one that tops a king.
Not only that, but the fact that Las Vegas Aces refers to playing cards just seems like a natural fit with all of the table games around the valley. There is one downfall to this name, however, as Reno (the city that Las Vegas loves to hate) has a Triple A baseball team (Arizona affiliate) by the same name.
While most people are hung up on naming the NHL team after something that has to do with the gambling or military, there aren’t many that are thinking about other official Nevada state symbols. The official animal of Nevada is the Desert Bighorn Sheep. These sheep are very common in the Mojave Desert and they can grow up 280 pounds with elastic hooves that are able to help them climb steep hills.
The Las Vegas NHL team will be facing a steep climb when they make their debut in the 2017-18 season, so it actually seems to be a pretty good fit. There are a couple of problems with the team name. First, nobody that lives outside of Nevada has any idea that the Desert Bighorn Sheep even exists. It’s also the name of a college baseball team in Reno, because apparently they have dibs on all of the good names.
Instead of having to steal a name from a minor league team way north of Las Vegas in Reno, how about supplementing one that’s actually in the city? Las Vegas is home to the 51’s, a Triple A affiliate of the New York Mets that play at Cashman Field (which is in serious need of an upgrade or new stadium altogether). The team was named because of Area 51, the top secret Air Force facility that is located less than 90 miles away from Las Vegas.
The new NHL team in Las Vegas could keep up with the intrigue of rumored UFOs and top secret alien autopsies going on in Nevada by using the Aliens name. There could also be a lot of fun promotions and kids would be coming through the doors right away to get their hands on some Aliens merchandise. Even the brand new T Mobile Arena looks a bit like a spaceship from the outside.
Another name that has been popular with some of the Las Vegas locals is the Flamingos, although there are plenty of other residents that don’t like it or think it’s unrealistic. The Flamingos would certainly be a unique nickname for a team (no other sports franchise has it) and there are a lot of Vegas tie-ins included. The oldest casino on the famous Las Vegas Strip is The Flamingo, which was founded by infamous Italian mobster Bugsy Siegel.
The hotel brought in real life Flamingos to Nevada for the first time to help it get its name and the resort is still one of the most popular spots on the strip to this day. The pink colors for an NHL team might be a hard sell, but not as hard of a sell as the name since The Flamingo is owned by Caesars Entertainment. The new NHL team will have strong ties with their main competitor, MGM.
There are plenty of teams out there in professional sports that have taken their names from local teams that folded or moved cities. The Winnipeg Jets and Cleveland Browns come to mind by naming their teams after the franchises that were once there. Las Vegas could do the same thing by naming their new NHL team the Wranglers. The Wranglers were an ECHL team that played at the Orleans Arena from 2003 to 2014, but stopped playing when they couldn’t find a new arena to house their home games.
The Wranglers had some pretty good success when they were around, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals twice in their final six seasons. Perhaps Las Vegas could give the Wranglers a second chance, this time with an NHL branding and an arena that has already held some of the biggest events in Las Vegas over the past four months.
In the dictionary, a battler is defined as “a person who refuses to admit defeat in the face of difficulty.” That’s a perfect analogy for sports and the Las Vegas NHL team will face some difficulty in their first few seasons as they look to hit their stride. It might seem like a boring and cliche name, but it hasn’t been taken by any other professional sports team, and it is a good name for the history of Nevada.
After all, Nevada’s state flag reads “Battle Born.” The history of the slogan dates all the way back to 1864 when the state was admitted to the union. This happened during the Civil War, so Nevada as a state was literally born into battle. It’s definitely one of those names that seems mediocre at first until you learn a bit about the history behind it, then it starts to grow on you.
8 Dust Devils
If you live in the non-desert area of the United States, you are probably used to standard tornadoes that form from the clouds. In Las Vegas, they live in a huge valley and don’t get to see tornadoes touch ground. Instead, what they see is referred to as a Dust Devil, which is a whirlwind that kicks up dust in a vertical column, looking just like a tornado that sweeps across the sandy and dusty areas.
They are fast, fleeting and can strike at anytime, which is what you want to see from your favorite hockey team. The name would also be a tribute to another former professional sports team in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Dustdevils were founded as a Continental Indoor Soccer League team in 1992 and played just two seasons, winning the championship in 1994. Perhaps it’s time to give the Las Vegas Dust Devils a second chance (and separate the words this time).
What do The Killers, Nicki Minaj, Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel and Ariana Grande all have in common? Yes, they are all headlining acts and they have all already headlined the T-Mobile Arena where the newest NHL team will play their home games. Las Vegas is the city where every performer from music to comedy wants to play since the crowds are always into it and they will pay top dollar to get into the event.
The NHL has a chance to be the headlining sports act in Las Vegas, with no other competition in sight (until the Oakland Raiders decide to move from Oakland). The Headliners would also be a good hockey fit as the top line on the roster would be headliners on their own. It’s a bit long, but chants of “Let’s go Liners!” would seem to be a natural fit.
6 Rat Pack
Las Vegas might not be the resort town that it is today if it weren’t for The Rat Pack. The group of friends that consisted of big names like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. put Las Vegas on the map with their performances that sold out to the point where people would sleep in lobbies just to see them. Even to this day, there is a tribute show to The Rat Pack that runs seemingly every night in Las Vegas.
The possibilities for the logo of The Rat Pack team is endless, but you can just imagine a rat with blue eyes. The fan section could simply be known as “The Pack” and you can probably already envision a section of fans known as "The Rink Rats.” Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing depends on who you ask, but Las Vegas residents would quickly embrace it.
At the moment in Las Vegas, the temperature outside is a balmy 108 degrees and it’s supposed to get up about 115 to 120 degrees throughout the next couple of months. There doesn’t seem to be many clouds in the summer months as the sun shines constantly, beating down on people walking The Strip. Speaking of shining, the Shiners is a good name as Las Vegas is tied with Phoenix for the most sunny days in the United States for major cities.
There is also the matter of the lights that shine from the Las Vegas Strip at night. They shine so bright, that it has made The Strip the easiest spot in the entire world to see from outer space. One more thing that would add to the Shiners nickname is the connotation that it brings from getting a black eye. There are plenty of those in hockey thanks to all of the flying fists and pucks.
A lot of us know that California is The Golden State and the NBA’s Warriors even use that in their nickname instead of Oakland (or San Francisco in the future). Nevada, on the other hand, is The Silver State, but that shouldn’t be seen as a second place finish. Silver is what helped establish cities like Las Vegas in the first place as people made their way into the state in the 1800s to mine for silver and gold, finding an abundance of the former.
While silver isn’t the hottest commodity these days, it’s always nice to hang onto and it helped to shape Nevada. Silver also happens to match the color of the blades on ice skates, but that’s just a nice bonus. There is also the world famous Gold and Silver Pawn store that you have definitely seen on the show Pawn Stars, although how much affiliation an NHL team would want to have with pawn shops is debatable.
If Arizona wasn’t too proud to name their NHL team after the desert wildlife, then Nevada shouldn’t be too happy to do the same. Being in the desert, they have a lot of venomous animals in Nevada, including the Gila Monster and several rattlesnakes. There are also scorpions and spiders that you have to worry about that could carry venomous bites. The inherent danger of getting lost in the desert and getting attacked by a venomous animal should strike fear into anybody, and it fits for sports, as well.
One of the most active websites dedicated to bringing hockey to Las Vegas (The Sin Bin) put out a Twitter poll and the Las Vegas Venom gained enough traction with people that a uniform design was created. Those that love alliteration in their sports teams would also love a team like the Vegas Venom as it just rolls off the tongue.
While most cities would try to bury their dark past, Las Vegas has done the opposite throughout the years and embraced it. You don’t have to be too much of a historian to know that the modern version of Las Vegas was built by the mafia (or mob, if you will). Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky used their dirty money that they put into Mormon banks to help build The Flamingo, which we mentioned a bit earlier in the list.
The mob ran Las Vegas for much of the 1940s and 1950s, building casinos like The Fremont, The Sands, The Tropicana and Binion’s Horseshoe. Even though the days of mob rule are gone from Las Vegas, their influence on the city and state has allowed it to maintain its status as the only spot in the country where you can play slot machines and make some sports bets while filling up your gas tank. Bones is also being discussed as an alternative.
There was really no order to the list outside of The Las Vegas Jacks, which I put at number one because it works on so many levels. There are plenty of Jackrabbits that you can find in Nevada, so there is a potential logo right there. The jack also happens to be one of the face cards that you can find in a deck. Above all, though, the most popular game in all of Las Vegas is Blackjack, which has ruined a lot of peoples’ dreams of becoming millionaires in Sin City.
If that isn’t enough, it could also be short for the Jackpots, which everyone is trying to hit when they come to Las Vegas. Just picture the Las Vegas Jacks scoring a goal, then you hear the coins falling out of a slot machine like someone just hit a jackpot followed by Elvis Presley’s famous “Viva Las Vegas.” If that doesn’t send chills down your spine, I don’t know what will.