The NHL’s newest expansion franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, is already facing some stiff competition, but not on the ice. The team’s first challenge, it appears, is descending on them from above — in the form of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, which has been called the Golden Knights since the 1960s. The Army isn’t quite sure it approves of the hockey team borrowing its name.
“We’re reviewing the situation and figuring out what the way ahead would be,” Army spokeswoman Alison Bettencourt told the Fayetteville Observer this week.
Bettencourt confirmed to The Post that the Army has enlisted its legal team to review the matter, which she said the Army only found out about last Wednesday, a day after Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley announced it in a high-profile ceremony at the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
Foley, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was aware of the name of the parachute team when he chose Golden Knights. He even tried to get the parachute team to make an appearance at last week’s ceremony “but we couldn’t make it work,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday.
Foley did not elaborate on the details of why the plan failed, but Bettencourt said a nonprofit organization sent a request to the Golden Knights parachute team on Oct. 31 asking that they make an appearance on behalf of a professional sports team at an event. The request was short on details, including the name of the professional sports team, but because of its ties to the unnamed for-profit entity, the request was immediately denied per Army policy.
Since then, Bettencourt said the Vegas Golden Knights have made no effort to reach out, a notion Foley confirmed to the Review-Journal on Tuesday.
“We didn’t check with the Army on the name Golden Knights because once we copyrighted and trademarked it, our lawyers and the NHL’s lawyers didn’t feel we needed to,” Foley said.
Foley’s business group Black Knight Sports and Entertainment applied to trademark the name (along with the Silver Knights and Desert Knights, just in case) in August. The case is being reviewed.
Foley made the move to trademark the new names after the Army pushed back on his original plan to name the team the Black Knights, the nickname used by sports teams at West Point. Unlike the parachute team’s nickname, West Point has a legal claim to the name the Black Knights.
“For us, the bottom line is the (perceived) connection between the Army and the professional sports team,” Bettencourt said, declining to answer whether the Army will ask the Vegas Golden Knights to change their name before the military’s review is completed.
Bettencourt said the Army’s main concern is being able to maintain its independent identity apart from the Vegas sports franchise and protect the more than 50-year history of the Golden Knights parachute team has built.
“We look forward to the team communicating and determining a way forward,” she said.
In addition to the parachute team, the Golden Knights nickname is also used by Clarkson University and the University of Central Florida, both of which also have also had legal claims to the name. According to Yahoo Sports, Foley got permission from the schools to use the moniker for the NHL franchise before he announced it last week.
The Vegas Golden Knights are scheduled to play their first NHL season next year.