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No need for Cox viewers to pull goalie on Vegas Golden Knights TV deal

As it now stands, you’ll be able to watch the Vegas Golden Knights play hockey on television in Montana, where majority team principal Bill Foley owns multiple homes and pizza parlors, but not on cable TV in Las Vegas.

Foley says the Golden Knights want to be “the team of the Rockies.”

That’s great, and maybe this is a narrow view, but it might be better if they were “the team of Southern Nevada” first.

You may have read way down in the announcement that ROOT SPORTS, the NHL expansion franchise’s new TV partner, is not presently carried on Cox Cable (and CenturyLink, which owns Prism TV) in Las Vegas.

Good thing it’s only June. No need to pull the goalie just yet. No need to hurl a catfish onto the ice.

In October, local hockey fans who can’t afford the $384.99 it costs for a family of four to attend a Los Angeles Kings’ game will be relying on their big screens and smaller screens to form a bond with the Golden Knights. I heard from several after the team announced its deal with ROOT, a regional sports network owned by AT&T that serves 8.3 million cable and satellite subscribers in 18 states.

These Golden Knights fans identified themselves as Cox subscribers. Many were wielding high sticks, albeit prematurely.

Many said they also were Los Angeles Dodgers fans.

Different deals

It’s now going on four seasons since the Dodgers reached a 25-year, $8.3-billion deal with Time Warner Cable to broadcast games on a channel that still isn’t available in around 70 percent of households where most Dodgers fans live.

Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz bristled when I brought up the Dodgers. “This is nothing like the Dodgers,” he said of the TV situations.

He’s right.

The Dodgers basically started a new network. Time Warner, now known as Spectrum, is asking subscribers to pay $5 a month for it, which is really high. It remains to be seen what, if any, extra fee will be passed on to Cox subscribers when/if ROOT is added to its lineup.

The Golden Knights are not involved in the negotiations. Provided negotiations have begun. As of last week, they had not.

This was the statement from Cox: “Cox provides news, sports and entertainment content that appeals to a wide range of audiences. At this time, we have not been contacted by ROOT SPORTS, but we review new additions to our channel lineup on an ongoing basis.”

This is what Bill Foley said: “I can’t imagine Cox not doing business with AT&T.”

I can’t either, not when it would be mutually beneficial — if not from a financial standpoint, then at least from a public relations one.

But there’s also this: ROOT, as mentioned, is a subsidiary of AT&T, which also owns DirecTV. DirecTV is Cox’s primary rival.

No guarantee … for now

Kerry Bubolz seemed surprised to learn who owned what when asked to allay the concerns of local cable subscribers.

Is he 100-percent certain that ROOT and the Golden Knights will be picked up by Cox (and CenturyLink)?

“I can’t say 100 percent,” he said of the discussions, because the team is not involved in them. But Bubolz said if the ROOT deal wasn’t beneficial to the team and its fans, the Golden Knights would have looked elsewhere.

The Dodgers may or may not have said the same thing four years ago.

Yes, that’s a different deal, with a different structure, but fans don’t care about how TV deals are structured. All they want to know is how they can watch the games, and how much it’s going to cost.

The prediction is that they’ll be able to watch Golden Knights games on Cox, and it won’t cost much, if anything, above what they already are paying. These things always seem to get ironed out at the last minute.

If I’m wrong, there will be tough questions to answer. Calling the team Vegas instead of Las Vegas will seem like a minor faux pas, like the old two-line pass resulting in offside.

Remember in “Slapshot,” when the Charlestown Chiefs were playing those punks from Syracuse? And Reggie Dunlop put the Hanson Brothers on the ice for the first shift? And havoc and mayhem ensued?

It might be like that.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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