Golden Knights officially sign first hockey player - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Golden Knights officially sign first hockey player

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LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Las Vegas’ first professional team recently became an official member of the NHL, and reached another milestone Monday, naming the first player to wear the gold and black.

The Golden Knights signed its first player ever, free agent Reid Duke.

During a telephone conference with Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee and Duke, FOX5 had a chance to get to know Duke a little better.

“His physical strength and maturity will help him,” McPhee said. “He’s ready to do this, to turn pro and compete for a job and we’re looking forward to watching him on the ice.”

The 21-year-old Canadian said he’s excited about heading to the desert.

“It’s truly a dream come true for my family and I,” Duke said. “We’re all just really excited to be a part of this.”

The Minnesota Wild originally drafted Duke in 2014, but decided not to sign him.

“The most important thing for me was that he had faced some adversity,” McPhee said. “He was drafted by another NHL club, things didn’t work out and he faced the adversity head on. (He) continued to work and became a very good player.”

Duke thanked a higher power.

“Everything that’s kind of going on the last few years in my junior year, finally leading up to this moment, really just kind of goes to show you there is someone up there orchestrating all of this.”

The 21-year-old played for Canada’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Kelly McCrimmon used to coach Duke there. Now McCrimmon is the Golden Knights Assistant GM, and Duke is reuniting with his mentor.

“The character that he embodies, I’ve really learned a lot from him,” Duke said. “Obviously having someone like that leading the Las Vegas Golden Knights, I knew it would be a great place to join.”

Duke said being the first player is just one in a string of firsts for this expansion team. He said he just wants to be a role model for valley kids.

“You remember those players that just took the extra minute to say ‘hi’ and to see how you are doing or to see how your hockey is doing,” Duke said. “Being on this side of things now, it’s something that I’m going to focus on.”

Duke received much attention for being the first Golden Knights player and said he’s even heard from an old babysitter who told him not to forget about her when he makes it big.

The NHL expansion draft is in June, when Duke will find out who many of his new teammates will be.

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