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Las Vegas NHL team closes in on general manager hire

If Bill Foley took a class in stealth operations while he was a student at West Point, there’s a good chance he aced the course.

Foley wasn’t revealing information Monday as his NHL expansion team closes in on a general manager, a nickname and a team logo. The Las Vegas team owner and his seven-member staff spent last week at his Montana ranch interviewing seven candidates to run team operations.

“We’re hoping to have an announcement in a few days,” Foley said. “We’ve got two primary candidates and we’re trying to get this done. We need to get a scouting staff hired and whoever we hire as our GM will be responsible for putting the (scouting) staff together.”

While Foley would not reveal who the finalists are or who the pool of seven interviewees were, he said they were all solid hockey people who have a wide range of expertise.

“I can tell you the people we talked to are all well-known in the hockey community and are well-respected,” Foley said. “They’re all very smart and they’ve done different things for different teams. Some are strong on the (salary) cap. Some are strong when it comes to assessing talent. But they all have strong backgrounds.”

Foley said some of the candidates he interviewed currently work for NHL teams and to make their names public could cause problems with their employers.

“We don’t want to cause any distractions,” he said. “We tried to be very careful and do it the right way. We worked with the NHL on how to contact teams for permission and I know we did it the proper way.”

Foley said four of the seven candidates were interviewed in a two-day stretch last week, with the other three interviewed later in the week. Some were interviewed in person at his ranch. Other interviews were conducted by phone.

One person who wasn’t contacted was Florida Panthers president Dale Tallon. The longtime executive who helped build the Chicago Blackhawks into Stanley Cup champions and helped revive the Panthers’ sagging fortunes said he was never contacted by Foley and never interviewed. In addition, Foley hasn’t reached out to Blackhawks assistant general manager Norm Maciver, considered one of the top hockey minds in the league.

“We never talked,” Tallon said. “I know he asked my owner (Vincent Viola) for permission and he was given it. They’re both West Point guys. But I never heard from Mr. Foley.”

As for the team nickname and logo, Foley said the organization is working with the NHL and adidas on both.

“We’ve got two or three really good names that we’re seriously considering,” he said while refusing to divulge what the names are. “The adidas people are very talented when it comes to design and they’ve been great. Same with the NHL. They’ve been extremely helpful.

“Our biggest problem is trademarks. Some of the names have trademarks and you have to go to those people and see what they have and we’re working through that.”

Foley said the plan remains to have a public announcement once the nickname and logo are chosen. The target is still early October.

Season ticket sales for 2017-18 are just over 15,300 and Foley said the only seats that remain are in the lower bowl at center ice. A waiting list will be established for fans who want to sit in the less expensive seats at T-Mobile Arena, which will seat 17,500 for hockey.

“We’re pretty close to being at capacity,” Foley said of the season ticket sales. “We need to set some seats aside for individual game sales. We have to have tickets for the visiting team and we need to have about 500 seats set aside for our staff.”

Foley said a lot got done during the team’s staff meetings and as he closes in on the most important hire he will make, Foley is confident he’s going to get it right in naming the team’s general manager.

“I think you’ll be pleased with the person we select,” he said.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj

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