The Las Vegas Golden Knights held a press conference Thursday to officially announce Gerard Gallant as the franchise's first head coach. The press conference was held at the home of the Golden Knights, T-Mobile Arena.
Despite a noon start, the press conference was filled with the media photographers, beat writers and journalists that'll grow with the franchise through its infancy and beyond. That atmosphere was the first taste of "big boy" sports. No longer is Las Vegas a transient town that fosters fans and media from other regions. No longer is it the hub for a quick weekend fight or a special attraction event.
Las Vegas is now a sports town with a professional sports teams and professionals that'll provide the locals constant coverage. Honestly, it's the first step toward creating a culture and a sense of community.
Community was a theme for the press conference. General Manager George McPhee mentioned how much the franchise placed value in the ability of its head coach to captivate the locals and create hockey fans from the ground level. Head Coach Gerard Gallant echoed those sentiments.
"Coaching staff and players are going to be involved in the community. There's going to be kids in hockey because of the Golden Knights" -GG
As with any expansion team, it'll take a long process to reach playoff contention, let alone success, but everyone involved knows that a positive culture doesn't take much time to build. In fact, having a "blank slate" as it was referred to by both Gallant and McPhee is a positive factor when starting a franchise in a new market.
Golden Knights CEO Bill Foley touched on the importance of boosting the community's interest in hockey when he spoke at the press conference.
"We want to make sure we are developing youth hockey (In Las Vegas). We will be in elementary, MS, & HS building our fan base" - Foley
Both Foley and Gallant made it known that it's McPhee's roster to build, both lending their opinions when asked and that not worrying about the constructs of the team frees them up to do their jobs more efficiently.
Gallant was hired first and foremost as a coach and a leader of the team on the ice. There's no one in the organization that has doubts about his ability to do just that.
"I like the way his (Gallant) team played last year (Panthers). I was at a lot of those games...We know we have the right person." - McPhee
If there's a blueprint on how to take curiosity and turn it into genuine excitement, the Golden Knights organization has followed it perfectly. The owner, GM, and head coach are all on the same page as they move forward with the enormous task that is creating a franchise.
The wins and losses on the ice will ultimately define the success of these three men, but no record could quantify what they've already done to build a hockey culture in the desert.