The NHL's currently unnamed Las Vegas expansion franchise may soon remedy their lack of an identity. In a recent radio interview, Las Vegas owner Bill Foley revealed that the team was closing in on names and was due to speak with the NHL and adidas, who will be taking over as the NHL's jersey supplier, this week to try to pin it all down.
Foley did not want to get specific about the name, only to say that Black Knights -- his personal preference -- was no longer an option, but they were looking at something Knights related or a type of bird. It is expected that the name will be revealed officially some time within the next few weeks.
According to SportsLogos.net, the team is now down to three options:
There are three names the team appears to be moving forward with: the Desert Hawks, Red Hawks and the Nighthawks. These names were all registered as several different domain names by Black Knight IP Holding Company, LLC, the company owned by Las Vegas hockey owner Bill Foley within the last few weeks.
So there is the bird.
UPDATE: Later Thursday night, Foley confirmed to the Las Vegas Review Journal that three of those names were being considered, but they're not the only ones:
Bill Foley confirms Las Vegas Nighthawks, Desert Hawks & Red Hawks all owned by his company along with 2 others that are being processed.— Steve Carp (@stevecarprj) August 12, 2016
Of those three, Red Hawks would appear to be the least likely. It's a bit too common and sounds a little too high school for a major professional organization. It's also the name for Miami University's teams. Desert Hawks and Nighthawks (or Night Hawks) are both actual hawks that are indigenous to Nevada as well.
One has to wonder how the Chicago Blackhawks would feel about these options or if they would try to block those names despite the differences. As has been pointed out by many, the league hasn't had any issues with teams named the Blues and Blue Jackets. It's something to keep an eye on nonetheless.
The whole name conundrum has not been ideal for the NHL's newest team. While they have made crucial hires to the hockey operations staff, the marketing and sales side of the business remains sparsely populated. That has left Foley and the league to work the name issue this out together and it's taken quite a long time to get settled amid trademark challenges.
Even though Foley didn't get Black Knights, a nod to his past at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he still desired "Knights" to be part of the name in some capacity. Foley told the Las Vegas Review Journal, however, that the team was unlikely to be named the Las Vegas Knights because the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights owned the trademark in Canada. London, however, revealed to Norman James of CTV London that the team had not been contacted by the Las Vegas franchise about use of the name.
Maybe that one is still on the table, but if not, Nighthawks or Night Hawks might end up being the best compromise. Seeing as the NHL wanted the team to steer clear of gambling imagery, the Nighthawks name could be their best option to keep it local.
While the process has really dragged on, this is one of the most important business decisions Foley will make. A team's name and logo is crucial in so many different aspects. The merchandising potential has to be among the foremost priorities when it comes to choosing the team's identity and surely it is. However, Foley has also often stressed the importance of the team name giving the actual hockey team something to rally around. It's hard to make everyone happy and surely they won't be able to no matter what they end up choosing.
For those who have been impatiently waiting, that's understandable, too. While the team was only accepted as the NHL's 31st franchise two months ago, this process began more than a year ago. Perhaps some of these issues could have been sorted out before they got the green light.
Las Vegas knows it has a team, but there's little else about it to know and there are no hats, T-shirts or jerseys to start buying. Finally picking this team's name and logo makes it a little more real to the locals and will give new fans something to buy into. It looks like the long wait will be over soon.