Las Vegas NHL Team History | LeoVegas

Vegas Golden Knights: Building a Hockey Dynasty in the Desert

In 2017, the NHL awarded an expansion franchise to an ownership group led by Bill Foley for Las Vegas, forming the Vegas Golden Knights. Foley, who also owns the Premier League Football Club AFC Bournemouth, took a bold step by bringing, and even thinking about bringing, professional hockey to the desert.

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Despite initial doubts about the viability of hockey in Las Vegas, the Vegas Golden Knights quickly captured the hearts of locals and fans with success on and off the ice. Their inaugural season saw them reach the Stanley Cup Finals, defying all expectations and solidifying their place in the NHL. The Golden Knights' journey from expansion team to Stanley Cup champions (sorry, spoiler alert) in a non-traditional hockey town has become a testament to the team and its owners’ determination.

Las Vegas NHL Team History

When awarding expansion franchises, the NHL takes into account factors like market size, fan interest, and ownership stability. In recent years, the league has tended to favour cities without the strong presence of established professional sports teams, particularly those that don't directly overlap or compete with hockey's season schedule, namely the NBA.

Las Vegas, Nashville, and Seattle are some of the recent expansion franchises that fit that framework. One outlier in this presumed strategy is the recent talk of Salt Lake City being either an expansion candidate or a relocation landing city for the Arizona Coyotes, a market fraught with numerous failings in promises to the league.

An expansion professional hockey team in the middle of the desert? Needless to say, this prospect was met with much apprehension. Beyond a local crowd with no deep-rooted hockey culture, support for an NHL team wasn’t clear. It was clear how much rivalry for entertainment dollars and attention they would be up against, though.

Originally, Las Vegas as a hockey destination was put to the test as a season ticket drive that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman declared was simply a test, and not to read too much into it. However, the results of the ticket drive seemingly convinced the commissioner and the league that the fan base in Las Vegas was deserving of a team and could certainly support it. The ticket drive, by the way, sold 13,500 season tickets in under two hours.

It’s safe to say now, that despite all the challenges this expansion faced, due to marketing efforts, community engagement, and on-ice success, the Vegas Golden Knights have been a successful example of NHL expansion opportunities. The city of Las Vegas has benefited from a strong sports landscape that influenced their decision to rehome the Oakland Athletics in their city, and there are also rumours of an NBA expansion team before we hit 2030.

Inception of the Las Vegas NHL Team

How would the team do in the NHL and the Vegas market, after the ticket drive was not in question? Would it be a fad? Time would tell if that was the case.

With the team getting the support of the commissioner and the league following the ticket drive’s undeniable success, Bill Foley had a team name in mind. Mr. Foley’s history with the navy and West Point Academy made him keen on calling the new franchise the Black Knights, but that was trademarked by the navy. Mr. Foley then set his sights on the name Vegas Knights. However, the London Knights, a Canadian junior franchise, held the rights to that name as it pertained to hockey.

Mr. Foley settled on the Golden Knights, a tip of the hat to Nevada being the state where the most gold is produced in the United States and its state motto, "Battle Born”. The Vegas Golden Knights logo reflects this influence, featuring a knight's helmet with a sleek and modern design, incorporating elements of gold, black, and gray to represent strength, power, and resilience.

The Las Vegas Expansion Draft was a bit different than former expansion drafts that usually saw a rag-tag collection of old Wiley veterans and young prospect busts grouped to form a new franchise. Not the case in this example, as Las Vegas benefited from the implementation of the salary cap era, and the emerging analytics trends, the “money balling” of pro sports.

However, the Golden Knights ended up having a cornucopia of choices in their expansion draft as teams used it as a means to rid themselves of expensive players at the end of their contracts and dump salary of underperforming players. This created a different type of talent pool for their beginnings.

Everything seemed to come together for the Golden Knights as they were able to acquire the foundation for a contender right out of the gates. The combination of experienced players, with the communal feeling of being under-appreciated, undervalued, and cast aside, created an unexpected quality group with a chip on their shoulders.

Being a quality team on the ice right from their first game, to the fact that Vegas had been starved of professional sports to this point, made the team a great success right from the first puck drop. Attending the games is a different experience in Las Vegas than any seasoned hockey destination you would find in the Northeast, where the focus is equal part hockey product, and equal part Las Vegas pizzazz. Light shows, dueling knights, and celebrity sightings, all make the Vegas hockey experience an outlier in the league.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights had their moniker and their mission. Bill Foley proclaimed before the first season that he had the ambitious goal of winning the Stanley Cup within 6 years. Spoiler alert: he accomplished this lofty goal when the Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup in 2023 and secured their mark as the youngest expansion team to do so.

Roster and Key Players

The Vegas Golden Knights roster for the 2023-2024 season includes key players such as:


  • Michael Amadio
  • Paul Cotter
  • Brett Howden
  • William Karlsson
  • Jonathan Marchessault
  • Nicolas Roy
  • Chandler Stephenson


  • Ivan Barbashev

  • Max Comtois

  • Grigori Denisenko

  • Keegan Kolesar

  • Mark Stone


  • Nicolas Hague

  • Kaedan Korczak

  • Alec Martinez

  • Brayden McNabb

  • Zach Whitecloud


  • Logan Thompson

  • Laurent Brosso

    Coach and Home Arena

The Vegas Golden Knights play their home games at T-Mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada. Bruce Cassidy is the team’s current head coach, he was named the team's third head coach on June 14, 2022.

Major Achievements and Highlights

Let’s start with the Vegas Golden Knights’ most decorated achievement - their Stanley Cup win. In only their sixth year, the Golden Knights claimed their first Stanley Cup championship in 2023, beating the Florida Panthers in game five. Now, this is incredibly impressive as a young NHL expansion team, but also a record achievement. This beat the previous record for the youngest expansion team to raise a Stanley Cup, one held by the Philadelphia Flyers who secured their win during their seventh season in 1974.

In their inaugural season, the Golden Knights claimed various records and victories, including sweeping their playoff series versus the Los Angeles Kings in round one of the Stanley Cup Finals. There were notable games like their first home October opener, where the Vegas Golden Knights scored four times in the first 11 minutes, resulting in a win of 5-2 much to the delight of the home crowd. By the time December rolled around, they were first in their division and did not relinquish their top spot throughout the season.

First NA pro sports team in over 40 years to win 8 straight games in their first season.

Most wins by an expansion team in their inaugural season: 51 wins.

Most points by an expansion team in their inaugural season: 109 points.

Fastest expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals: Inaugural season.

Las Vegas NHL Team FAQs

Does Las Vegas have an NHL team?

Yes, the Vegas Golden Knights became Las Vegas’s NHL home team in the 2017-2018 season.

What NHL hockey team is based out of Las Vegas?

The Vegas Golden Knights are the NHL professional hockey team based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Where does Las Vegas play hockey?

Home games of the Las Vegas ‘Vegas Golden Knights’ NHL team play in T-Mobile Arena, located right on the Vegas Strip.

What happened to the Las Vegas Thunder hockey team?

The Las Vegas Thunder hockey team of the IHL (International Hockey League) in 1993-1999 suffered from declining attendance and financial difficulties. Las Vegas had no professional hockey until the Golden Knights’ inaugural season in 2017.

How did Las Vegas become a viable market for NHL expansion?

Las Vegas benefited from a committed ownership team, their economic ability to fund and construct sports facilities such as the T-Mobile Arena, and the city’s entertainment scene are just a few reasons that fueled its NHL expansion success.

What are the future prospects for the Las Vegas NHL team?

Players like Sweden's David Edstrom, Brendan Brission, Kaedan Korczak and Matyas Sapovaliv, are just a few.