Bill Foley is sticking to his proclamation.
The Golden Knights owner said “Cup in six” before his team played a game. It’s now the sixth season, and he’s not backing down. Foley sees a team that is deep at center, has one of the NHL’s best blue lines and emerging goaltenders in Logan Thompson and Adin Hill.
As part of a wide-ranging interview Thursday at his Fidelity National Financial office, Foley saw no reason to change course.
“I can’t guarantee it,” he said. “I’m not going to be Joe Namath and guarantee we get it. But I stand by my statement.”
Season 6 looks different for Foley and the Knights.
Bruce Cassidy replaced Pete DeBoer as coach. Thompson has taken over in net with goaltender Robin Lehner out for the season after having double hip surgery. The Knights have also styled the season “The Golden Age,” in part because their gold jerseys have replaced their gray sweaters as their primary home uniform.
The team has also updated its game presentation and is filming skits to show to fans, like one with center William Karlsson and left wing Jonathan Marchessault bickering with each other on a car ride with Foley.
“We just thought it was time for a refresh,” Foley said. “Let’s come back and be the Golden Misfits again instead of just being this maturing team. Let’s be a little bit more silly and have more fun.”
The Knights also have a different team on the ice. Forwards Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov and defenseman Dylan Coghlan were traded. Fan favorites Nate Schmidt, Ryan Reaves and Marc-Andre Fleury left in previous offseasons.
The Knights did stop more players from leaving. Original members Reilly Smith and Brayden McNabb have signed three-year extensions since January. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud signed a six-year deal last October. Four younger players — Thompson, defenseman Nic Hague and forwards Nicolas Roy and Keegan Kolesar — received three-year deals in the past 10 months.
“My goal was, let’s not let these guys get away from us,” Foley said. “Let’s focus on signing these key guys to longer-term deals so we have them for the foreseeable future, we’ve got this core of players. If anything, we were maybe too aggressive in some trades. We have some people that have come and gone. We’re taking a little different view of it right now.”
The Knights’ goal of roster stability looks realistic after big swings for defenseman Alex Pietrangelo and center Jack Eichel put them in salary-cap binds for years. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday at the NHL’s board of governors meeting in New York that the cap could go up by $4 million next season if revenue projections are hit.
That would benefit the Knights more than most.
“It’d be great for us,” Foley said. “We’ve been so constrained by the cap for three years. We’ve had to take lots of kinds of action to make sure we stay cap compliant.”
Here are other highlights from the interview:
— Foley said he has submitted his application to the Premier League to buy the club AFC Bournemouth and is hoping to get approval by mid-November.
He said the transaction, expected to cost $133 million, according to The Associated Press, has been signed and he will have the funds to finalize it Oct. 31.
Foley has bought a house in the area and obtained permits for a new training facility. He also wants to revamp Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium or build a new one, because the maximum capacity of about 11,300 is the smallest in the league. Foley said he wants to have 22,000 to 24,000 seats.
While he figures that out, he plans to be active when the transfer window for buying and selling players opens in January. Bournemouth is 12th in the Premier League standings but only four points clear of relegation. Foley hopes to improve the team’s attack, as it has scored 10 goals in 11 games.
“My whole character is about doing something new, doing something different, learning,” Foley said. “That’s what I’m going to be doing with football.”
— Foley said the Knights are exploring building another hockey rink near Henderson Executive Airport.
The team operates City National Arena in Summerlin and Lifeguard Arena in Henderson. Both facilities have two sheets of ice.
That hasn’t been enough to keep up with demand. The number of 10-and-under players in Nevada has gone from 221 to 1,639 in five years, according to USA Hockey.
“We need to have more availability, especially for youth hockey,” Foley said. “We’re buried, which is great. We want to be buried. But we need to support it.”