The goal was to make the playoffs in three years and win a Stanley Cup by year six.
Thanks to the remarkable success of his players, coaches and hockey operations staff, part of Bill Foley’s vision was revised as the owner of the Golden Knights saw his expansion team clinch an NHL playoff berth Monday at a raucous T-Mobile Arena as the Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1.
“This is a thrilling night for our county, Las Vegas and for our great fans,” said Foley, the Knights’ majority owner and chairman who paid at the time a record $500 million in 2016 to join the NHL and bring major league professional sports to Las Vegas. “We’ve been through some tough situations, and we’ve survived a lot of challenges this year, including being picked to finish last as an expansion team. I’m very proud of these guys.”
Like everyone connected with the organization, Foley wasn’t going to say or do anything until the “X” was connected to the Knights’ name in the NHL standings indicating they had clinched. But it was just a matter of time as the Knights had plenty of equity built up from their success over the first four months of the season.
“One game at a time,” he said, imitating his coach, Gerard Gallant, while admitting his patience was being tried over the past week or so. “But it’s been pretty tough the last four or five games.”
Foley gave credit to general manager George McPhee and his staff, which put together a team that has amassed an expansion record 48 wins along with 103 points and has a six-point lead in the Pacific Division over San Jose with six games remaining.
“I knew right away when I met George that we could work together and I could trust him,” Foley said. “We have a great group of players, a great coach and a great person leading us in George.”
Gallant, who won his 200th career NHL game as a head coach Monday, said Foley has been the leader of the organization and has set the tone for everyone.
“It always starts from the top,” Gallant said. “They did a great job in the expansion draft, and it’s been a great season so far.
“I’m real happy for Bill Foley. He gave me an opportunity to coach this team, and he’s been great to us. He’s around us every day, and he’s a great owner.”
Foley, a West Point graduate who is prone to quote generals Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower and George Patton, opted to sum up his feelings by paraphrasing Winston Churchill.
“It’s been an amazing season so far,” Foley said. “But this is not the end. And this is not the beginning of the end. But it is the end of the beginning.”