Daniel Negreanu hasn’t given up on his dream to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas. In fact, he’s more adamant than ever in trying to get hockey in the desert, as part of an ownership group that includes the Maloof family and William Foley. There are obstacles ahead, including Vegas being a casino town with lots of other entertainment options. But Kid Poker is rather confident in Sin City’s ability to land an NHL team because he thinks that it would actually be a ‘destination game’ for hockey lovers.
“People will go to games in Vegas as visitors as a destination game,” Negreanu told TSN. “Nobody says ‘let’s get the buddies together and we’ll go to Columbus and watch the Blue Jackets.’ No one’s going to do that. But if Calgary is playing Vegas in Vegas on a Sunday afternoon, people will take a weekend and make a trip out of it.”
Another big factor that Negreanu thinks could work in Vegas’ favor is the fact that they don’t have any other major professional sports franchises.
“It will be the first major sports team (in Las Vegas) and if you look historically, any city that’s had just one team, like San Jose for example, they do amazing,” Negreanu said. “There was no hockey culture in San Jose before the Sharks came and now it’s a Shark’s town.”
One more thing that Kid Poker points out is that Vegas has a solid population, money and thousands of people who want season tickets.
“We have the 2.2 million residents, we have a great arena built, we have the money to back it, we’ve already got commitments from over 13,000 people with season ticket deposits having been put down.”
A long-time fan of his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Negreanu thinks that the one thing a potential Vegas franchise should avoid is following the Leafs’ rebuilding plans.
“(The Leafs) have always made the same mistake of bailing on the rebuild too quickly,” he said. “Mediocrity means you just stay mediocre forever,” said Negreanu. “If you look at the great teams today, Chicago, the Kings, they were awful and then they got four or five key draft picks, just like Pittsburgh did before, and they built a team around that.”
Obviously Negreanu’s hockey passion runs deep. So hopefully we’ll get to see him in the owner’s box with a Vegas hockey team in the near future.