After years of anticipation, much complaining and maligning, and a growing sense of inevitability, Gary Bettman announced today that the NHL will indeed be expanding to Las Vegas during the 2017-2018 season. In an attempt to head off the bad decisions that will no doubt be made regarding the direction and image of this team, I have several suggestions:
Don’t Be Boring With Colors
I’ve heard suggestions like “Black Aces” and “Black Knights” for the team name, which I suppose is fine, but here’s my problem: we have plenty of black jerseys. We also have far too many red jerseys, which is a separate issue, but it brings me to my point: the Las Vegas Whatevers need to have good colors.
What do you think of when you think of Vegas? Is it the inky blackness of the desert sky? Or is it the neon lights of The Strip?
Bring on the neon, NHL. “But it’s tacky!” you say. “It’s going to be tacky no matter what happens,” I say. May as well lean into the gimmick. If you’re going to put a team in Vegas, you might as well go all the way.
Do Invest in a Team Financial Adviser
It’s likely that any player who ends up playing for Vegas for more than a year will become as inured as the locals to the gambling and partying nature of the city. But I’d say it’s well-worth at least investing in some extra insurance in the form of a financial adviser or something that’s around to keep the players from going and blowing their signing bonus on roulette the moment they get to the city. At the very least it’s probably a good idea to have the resources available.
Don’t Have A Kiss Cam
I mean, I generally hate kiss cams, but as this ad shows, it may not be a great idea in Vegas:
Do Have A Buffet…
…if only because it’s a Vegas tradition.
Don’t Have Casino Night
A lot of teams in the NHL do a casino night for season ticket holders to raise money for charity or something. For obvious reasons, maybe think of another way to raise the money.
Do Go Gimmicky
As I said above, the whole idea of a team in Vegas is kind of a gimmick in and of itself. I don’t see the harm in going with that. Tie the team in with Vegas performers like Britney Spears, theme the intermission games, make team advertisements that are references to The Hangover. At least make this fun for the rest of us.
Don’t Get Too Worked Up Over Initial Ticket Sales
Regardless of which way the first few games go in terms of sales, it’s probably not going to be wildly indicative of how it’s going to trend for the life of the team. If it’s a massive sell-out the first few games, it might be because of the novelty; if it’s a disappointment, it might be because of the novelty and because there hasn’t been time to build up a fanbase. There have been some fairly pessimistic thinkpieces on likely attendance, but over the course of a year we’ll probably have a better idea of how the team is going to do.
Do Add Another Team to the West
It was already ridiculous that there were fourteen teams in the west and sixteen in the east. Now there’s an uneven number of teams. At least if there’s 32 teams, no one can say that more than half the teams in the league make the playoffs, and it’ll even out the divisions. Hopefully.
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God please not the black knights.