It looks like the Vegas Golden Knights are channeling their inner Hartford Whalers.
The National Hockey League’s newest franchise, the first professional sports team to call Nevada home, has unveiled its name and logo—the latter eerily reminiscent of a long-defunct franchise’s famous mark.
The Golden Knights’ jerseys will bear a crest featuring a gold and black mask of a medieval knight with a black “V” embedded from the mask’s eyes down through the mouth.
According to Bill Foley, the team’s majority owner, the Golden Knights moniker was chosen so the team would be known for its “dedication, honor, strength, courage and a commitment to never give up.”
“We want our team to be committed to teamwork, service to this great city and integrity in all things, and we wanted a name and logo that represented all of this and was unique to Las Vegas and our community. Vegas Golden Knights is that name,” he commented at the unveiling of the team’s official identity.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 5, 2016
“We selected ‘Knights’ because knights are the defenders of the realm and protect those who cannot defend themselves. They are the elite warrior class.”
The team’s color palette includes steel grey, gold, red and black, which Foley says reflect both the Las Vegas community and the team’s focus:
- Steel grey represents strength and durability.
- Gold is a nod to Nevada being the largest US state that produces the substance.
- Red is from the Las Vegas skyline, the desert and the Red Rock canyons. It is also associated, Foley says, with the readiness to serve.
- Black is synonymous with power and integrity.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) November 26, 2016
Foley had also trademarked the “Desert Knights” and “Silver Knights.”
Just what connection Las Vegas has with golden knights or knights of any kind is up for debate—many observers had previously suggested gambling-related monikers, such as the “Wild Aces,” “Black Jacks” and “Sin”—but what isn’t is the logo’s similarity to that of the Hartford Whalers, who left New England to become the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.
The birth of the Golden Knights also evoked memories of two more defunct “golden” franchises, the NHL’s California Golden Seals (1967-76) and the World Hockey Association’s New York Golden Blades (1972-74). Both were spectacular disasters on the ice and at the box office.
Even though the Whalers never won the Stanley Cup—they missed the playoffs in 10 of their 18 NHL seasons—their logo has long been red-hot at the retail counter. In fact, not only is its merchandise the most popular of all defunct NHL teams, it reportedly outsells the wares of about half of the current teams in the league.
The Whalers’ mark features a green “W” topped by a blue whale tail. Formed out of the white space in between is a subtle “H” for Hartford.
Howard Baldwin, former owner of the Whalers in both the NHL and WHA from 1972-79 before that, likes what the Golden Knights have created. “I hope it works for them,” he says. “It’s very clever.”
He is an unabashed fan of the Whalers’ logo, which was designed by employee Bill Barnes back in the early 1970s. “It tied everything in so great. There are so many subtleties in the logo. The tail is obvious but you’ve got to look (beyond it). ‘Hey, now I get it!’ The ‘H’ is for Hartford!” It’s a brilliant logo,” he says.
The Golden Knights’ mark is simple, effective and looks good, Baldwin says.
“These things are tricky. Some of them you look at and say, ‘what does that have to do with the team?’ Sometimes they look so simple and basic and that’s what they’re meant to be. You get what they are when you look at them,” he observes.