As the calendar turns to 2017, the Golden Knights are busy trying to get several facets of their operation set before their inaugural NHL season launches in October.
One is landing a minor league affiliate. Another is finding a TV and radio home.
Talks are ongoing with two American Hockey League teams that are not owned by NHL teams. General manager George McPhee and senior vice president Murray Craven hope to get that finalized soon.
“We’re getting closer, but we haven’t nailed it down yet,” McPhee said.
Craven said it’s not a simple process.
“There’s a lot that goes into a partnership,” he said. “But we’ve had a lot of productive discussions, and I think we’ll have that all tied up by the end of January.”
Craven wouldn’t disclose the identity of the potential affiliates. Twelves AHL teams are independently owned, most of them in the Eastern Conference.
“The teams we’re talking to don’t want it out there that we’re talking to them,” Craven said.
As for the TV and radio affiliations, team president Kerry Bubolz said there have been discussions with networks about televising the Knights’ games, and several local radio stations have been contacted to gauge their interest.
“We’ve engaged several players in the market,” Bubolz said. “We’re hoping to have our TV partner deal done by March.”
Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West are established on Cox Cable in Las Vegas and DirecTV. But both have NHL teams as part of their inventory — the Los Angeles Kings on FSW and the Anaheim Ducks on Prime Ticket.
That said, there is precedent for regional sports networks bleeding into multiple TV markets. For instance, Las Vegas gets Arizona Diamondbacks broadcasts on Fox Sports Prime Ticket, which is based out of Los Angeles. Fox Sports South has an exclusive and similar programming in Nashville, Atlanta and Birmingham.
On radio, Bubolz said the team is looking to broadcast its games on AM and FM as well as in Spanish.
“We’ve met with several radio stations in the market, and we’ll continue to talk in the coming weeks,” he said. “For us, it’s really important that we have our games broadcast live on a signal that can be heard throughout Southern Nevada. This is the NHL. We’re not going to accept being on tape delay or having portions of the broadcast not aired.”
Ten NHL teams have Spanish-language radio broadcasts.
“We have a large Latino community, and we want to reach out to them, so it’s important we find a quality Spanish station to broadcast our games,” Bubolz said.
MEDICAL STAFF FORMING
The Knights also are assembling their medical staff. Bubolz said the team has begun interviewing doctors, dentists, surgeons and other health care providers with hopes to making the first hires in a few weeks.
“We want an all-star medical lineup,” he said. “It’s important that we have the best medical care available for our players.”
PRACTICE FACILITY UPDATE
Craven said construction on the team’s 120,000 square-foot practice facility adjacent to Downtown Summerlin is progressing according to plan.
“We’re full speed ahead,” Craven said. “We’re starting to go vertical, which is exciting. One section of the second floor is completed. We’re pouring concrete, and we haven’t had any major delays.”
The two-rink complex is expected to open in late August.
Contact Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
INDEPENDENT AHL TEAMS
These 12 American Hockey League teams are independently owned and not by their NHL affiliate:
AHL Team (NHL affiliate)
Chicago (St. Louis)
Grand Rapids (Detroit)
Lehigh Valley (Philadelphia)
San Antonio (Colorado)
Syracuse (Tampa Bay)
Source: American Hockey League