NHL’s Las Vegas expansion team to announce first GM Wednesday – CBSSports.com
The NHL’s newest team has an ownership group and a building to play in, but not much else. That will soon be changing, as owner Bill Foley explained to the Las Vegas Review Journal. The expansion franchise is down to its final two candidates for the general manager position and expect to make that hire in short order. Additionally, the ownership group is closing on the team’s name and logo.
UPDATE: Per a press release from the team, Foley will announce the team’s first-ever general manager during a press conference at T-Mobile Arena Wednesday at 1 p.m. PT.
“We’re hoping to have an announcement in a few days,” Foley said of the general manager Monday. “We’ve got two primary candidates and we’re trying to get this done. We need to get a scouting staff hired and whoever we hire as our GM will be responsible for putting the (scouting) staff together.”
While Foley would not reveal who the finalists are or who the pool of seven interviewees were, he said they were all solid hockey people who have a wide range of abilities and expertise.
“I can tell you the people we talked to are all well-known in the hockey community and are well-respected,” Foley said. “They’re all very smart and they’ve done different things for different teams. Some are strong on the (salary) cap. Some are strong when it comes to assessing talent. But they all have strong backgrounds.”
According to the report by Steve Carp, Florida Panthers president of hockey operations Dale Tallon and Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM Norm Maciver, both considered around the hockey world to be strong options, were not interviewed for the position.
Other names that have frequently popped up as in the mix include Penguins assistant GM Jason Botterill, Los Angeles Kings assistant GM Mike Futa and former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee. However, Foley has been playing his cards close to the vest on this one and it is unclear who his two finalists are.
Of all the hires and decisions Foley will make, who he chooses for his first general manager will almost assuredly be the biggest of them all. The team is going to have a really good shot at icing a decently competitive team right away with the way the expansion draft was set up. It probably would help to have an executive who is experienced, but this kind of expansion draft is uncharted territory.
On top of having a GM that has a good feel for the landscape of the NHL, no team will have a more important pro scouting staff. With the expansion draft factoring in so heavily and not really knowing what players teams will protect, they’re going to need blanket coverage of the league for the full season. So having a well-connected GM that has enough respect in the business to lure top-level pro scouts could be a major factor in this hiring as well, or should be.
It’s one of the most fascinating jobs available and apparently we’re going to learn who gets the first crack at building up the Las Vegas roster from scratch within days.
When it comes to a team name and logo, Foley told the Review Journal that the team is working closely with the NHL and adidas, who will soon be taking over the production of the NHL’s jerseys in 2017-18. There are two or three names still in the mix, but that there is still work to be done on the trademark law front, according to Foley.
Adidas’ involvement should come as no surprise. The jersey manufacturer has often played a driving role in not only the jersey design, but rebranding as well. Several teams underwent massive redesigns ahead of the 2007-08 season when Reebok introduced its “Edge” uniform series.
For a point of reference, adidas was in charge of designing the new logos and jerseys for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The uniforms have gotten mixed reviews and some are definitely better than others. Team Europe’s jerseys probably should never see the light of day, for instance. Meanwhile, Team North America’s black jersey is pretty unique and actually may not be a bad template to follow for the Las Vegas club.
These are exciting days for the NHL’s newest franchise as we’re getting closer and closer to learning some of the key components of its identity being revealed. The most important groundwork is being taken care of now. If they do it right, they’ll have a much better chance of hitting the ground running in 2017-18.