In his mind, which is always working, always thinking bigger and better and broader in scope, Bill Foley sees the central coast of China, perhaps along a famed waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings, across from the Huangpu River, from which rises the Pudong district’s futuristic skyline.
He sees his hockey team creating a global influence a world away, of small children running through a sprawling Yu Garden of traditional pavilions and towers and ponds wearing … a T-shirt with Chance on it?
“I always thought when visitors come to Las Vegas, even though they don’t get tickets (to games) because we are sold out, they are going to buy gear,” Foley said. “And they are going to be back in Shanghai wearing a Golden Knights hat.”
I mean, it’s not the monster that is the NBA in China, but foolish is the person who would doubt Foley’s ability to realize a dream.
I suppose they might even be sitting in that stylish courtyard at the Seesaw Coffeehouse on Yuyuan Road right now, pounding those spacious wooden tables and lamenting about the wrong assessment of a five-minute major penalty to Knights forward Cody Eakin in Game 7 of a Western Conference playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
I also would hope that between sips, even the most loyal fans from China also discuss the ensuing power play that the Knights failed miserably to kill, allowing four goals in four minutes in which nary a timeout from the team was taken.
Let’s not totally avoid that important piece of a 5-4 overtime loss Tuesday.
The call on Eakin was brutal.
So, too, was how the Knights responded to it.
I’m certain the Knights’ net wasn’t empty during that kill and four teammates were on the ice with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
I absolutely know that San Jose hasn’t been given enough credit for rallying the way it did.
You can’t just talk about one part of the narrative. Things don’t (or shouldn’t) work that way in the real world of sports.
“We managed to do a pretty good run despite of everything, and despite the fact that we had a lot of guys hurt (during the season),” Foley said in evaluating the entirety of Year 2. “We had guys hurt in January, and then the trade deadline came along, and we got hot. (Trading for forward) Mark Stone was a piece of that, and the guys started getting healthy and coming back. So this team did go through a lot of adversity.”
Foley’s grand scheme to grow the team’s brand began a lot closer to home than China’s largest city, instead wanting to use last year’s expansion season as a way to enhance its presence across being televised in six states.
At first, it was all about being the Team of the Rockies.
The Knights have certainly made a large print of a skate’s blade in that part of the country, and wouldn’t it have made things interesting in this manner had the team advanced to play Colorado in the Western Conference semifinals?
Instead, Foley continues to think bigger and better and broader.
Earlier this month, the team launched VGK Worldwide, a digitally based global community that will serve and unite Knights fans across the globe.
Each membership includes things such as a hat, flag, T-shirt, luggage tag, water bottle, poker chip, playing cards and a lapel pin, all showcasing a new logo exclusive to the community.
It’s all part of the process, of the vision an owner has for his team.
All of which, though, will never override his primary objective.
“My goal is to win,” Foley said. “My goal is to build a dynasty here. Not just win a Stanley Cup, but multiple Stanley Cups over several years. … People maybe underestimated us this year when we got off to a tough start and had some gaps in play. But this is a good team. This definitely is a Stanley Cup team, in my opinion.”
I’m not sure how much China agrees, but somewhere within the shopping district along Nanjing Road, there just might be someone being asked about a certain hat they’re wearing, and Foley’s dream would take another step toward becoming reality.
Maybe even the story of Game 7 will be told.
How do you say meltdown in Mandarin?
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.