At some point, the Golden Knights will participate in an NHL outdoor game.
More than likely, it will not be in Las Vegas.
A new Raiders stadium will have a permanent roof, so that facility is out of play for a possible Winter Classic or Stadium Series game. Sam Boyd Stadium could be an alternative, but it’s too far from the Strip and the NHL would likely pass.
Caesars Palace, which had an outdoor NHL preseason game in 1991, no longer has the space to replicate the rink setup that hosted the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers. Cashman Field is likely too small.
That would mean leaving town to play.
The league announced Monday the Washington Capitals will play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the United States Naval Academy on March 3. It would be the first time the league has played a regular season game on the campus of a military installation.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday plans are to play games at West Point and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. That’s where the Knights could come into play as one of the participants in a game at Michie Stadium, which seats 38,000. Majority owner Bill Foley is a West Point graduate, and he has expressed interest in bringing his team to the campus of his alma mater.
A Stadium Series matchup that might fit: the Knights vs. the Florida Panthers, whose owner, Vinnie Viola, also is a West Point graduate.
The earliest such a game would be played is 2018-19. But it’s something to keep an eye on.
General manager George McPhee confirmed that the Knights will have an ECHL affiliate for 2017-18. There have been discussions with the Quad City Mallards, which would provide players to the Chicago Wolves, the Knights’ American Hockey League affiliate.
“Nothing’s finalized but we will have a limited affiliation with an ECHL team this year,” McPhee said.
Originally, the plan was to go without a tie-in to the ECHL, hockey’s Double-AA minor league. But there could be free agents or late-round draft picks who don’t fit in with Chicago and could still get a chance to develop by playing in the ECHL.
Back to MacKenzie River
Lately, there has been much speculation among local hockey and food bloggers over the identity of the team’s restaurant at its practice facility and headquarters. Initially, it was going to be Nevada’s first MacKenzie River Pizza Company. Then, the plan was to switch to Craggy Range, which has a slightly more upscale menu.
Both companies are owned by Foley. But Foley said late last week the plan is to go with MacKenzie River Pizza, which has restaurants in eight states and has a better brand recognition than Craggy Range, which is located in Whitefish, Montana.
The team’s practice facility is scheduled to open in mid-August. The restaurant will be located on the second floor.
T-Mobile title sponsor
In a move that makes a lot of sense, the NHL announced that T-Mobile will be the presenting sponsor of the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL expansion draft June 21 at T-Mobile Arena.
“T-Mobile has been a proud supporter of hockey in Vegas from the start, so it’s only fitting for T-Mobile to join us in making this one of the most memorable nights ever,” said Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief revenue officer and executive vice president.
The Golden Knights’ expansion draft selections will be revealed that night along with the presentation of the awards to the NHL’s top players and coaches.
Contact Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
2017-18 NHL outdoor schedule
Dec. 16: NHL 100 Classic, Lansdowne Park, Ottawa, Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators
Jan. 1: NHL Winter Classic, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., New York Rangers vs. Buffalo Sabres
March 3: NHL Stadium Series, Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland, Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Washington Capitals.