1-on-1 with Golden Knights’ Bill Foley: ‘This is the best team we’ve ever had.‘
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - In 2017, shortly after the Golden Knights had hired Gerard Gallant as the first head coach in franchise history, team owner Bill Foley went on national television, and without hesitation proclaimed his expectations for the Golden Knights: “Playoffs in three, Cup in six.”
“They laughed at it,” smiled Foley.
Four playoff appearances, two Conference Finals and a Stanley Cup Final later, and Foley has looked less like a jester and more like a genius. However, the Golden Knights owner says, the goal has not yet been reached.
“This is the best team we’ve ever had; this is a team put together to win a Stanley Cup and I stand by my statement, Stanley Cup in six.”
In his first sit down interview since the Golden Knights missed the postseason this past summer, Foley tells FOX5 it was frustrating, but looking back, maybe necessary.
“We had some serious discussions and in retrospect, I’m not so sure missing the playoffs was such a bad thing. The first thing it did was give the boys a whole summer off, to get ready and to get in shape and to realize that playoffs are not automatic. You have to work hard to get there and get in the playoffs and to achieve wins during the playoffs. This is in my mind the best team we’ve ever had and it’s well coached and the players are bonding. They’re together, which we’ve kind of got away from a little bit in the last couple years. We’ve had too many personalities in the locker room and now it’s about team again.”
“We had some distractions last year and the year before, particularly in the goalie situation, it was distracting for the team and for the players and that’s been really rectified now. The guys are bonding, the guys are together. They’re in it as a team once again.”
Foley says it’s not just the team that gets him excited for what’s to come, but the group leading the players, including the third head coach in franchise history, Bruce Cassidy.
“Butch Cassidy is relentless, he’s demanding, he wants accountability out of his players. I love our coaching situation and I really love our team. He is kind of in that, he’s not a total motivator like Turk was. He’s not complete analytics driven guy like maybe Pete was, he’s somewhere in the middle and that’s really helpful. It’s good for us.”
Expectations are high for the Golden Knights inside City National Arena, but Foley says he knows that feeling is not shared by the rest of the National Hockey League.
“Everyone is underestimating us, and I like it. I like being the underdog, I like being the team that proves something that people don’t expect. We’re not really ranked, with all the pundits. We’ll maybe make the playoffs, maybe as a wild card. We’ll just wait and see how that goes, I like where we are, and I like the attitude the players are bringing to it. They’re irritated and they’re playing hard, so I believe we’re in a great spot and I’m serious about that.”
After the incredible run during the first season, the Golden Knights were one of the best feel-good stories in NHL history, but after a few trades, and jettisoning some of the original expansion picks, Vegas has since become villains of the league.
“We’re here to win and some people have said, ‘Well it’s reckless, it’s ruthless.’ We’re here to win. I’m here to bring a winner to Las Vegas and bring a Stanley Cup to Las Vegas and we will continue to be aggressive, and we will do everything we can to put the right players on the ice. I believe we have them. I believe we have a very, very good team and we’ll prove it.”
That aggression has meant spending to the cap for the past three seasons. Bill Foley says they are cap compliant in 2022-23, with $16 to spare at the moment. However, Foley along with other cap strapped teams around the league, received some good news earlier in the week, that with the escrow debt nearly paid off, the NHL could see the salary cap go up $3-4 million by next year.
“The league is doing better financially than it was projected to do and I was really pleased to hear the commissioner mention that yesterday that there might be a cap expansion at the end of this year of three or four million dollars, instead of one million dollars. That would be very helpful for us. It will help us bring in that extra player or so. People get out of a contract, they move on, go somewhere else, but if you look at our team right now, we’re pretty well set with fairly long-term contracts, so we’re not going to be impacted by an increase in the cap and having to re-negotiate contracts, but we’re going to have money available to do some interesting things with.”
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