Background and establishment
The NHL has had a presence in Las Vegas since 1991; that year, the city hosted the first outdoor game between two NHL teams – a preseason exhibition between the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers outside Caesars Palace. The Kings would subsequently organize "Frozen Fury" – a series of annual preseason games in Las Vegas against the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL Awards ceremonies have been held in Las Vegas since 2009. In 2009, the media speculated about a plan involving Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Nevada.
Rumors of a Las Vegas expansion team surfaced again in August 2014, pointing to a new indoor arena on the Strip (built as a joint venture between Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Kings, and MGM Resorts International) as the potential home arena, although these rumors were denied by the league. In November 2014, an unconfirmed report stated that the league had selected billionaire businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof family (former owners of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings, and founders of the Palms Casino Resort) to lead the ownership group for a Las Vegas expansion team. In December 2014, the NHL's board of governors decided to allow Foley to hold a season ticket drive to gauge interest in a Las Vegas team, though league commissioner Gary Bettman also warned the media to "[not] make more out of this than it is". The season ticket drive began in February 2015, with interested parties placing ten percent deposits for the 2016–17 season. The drive drew 5,000 deposits in its first day and a half, and reached its goal of 10,000 deposits by April 2015.
In June 2015, the league officially opened the window for prospective owners to bid on expansion teams. By this point, Foley had secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits. Two expansion applications were submitted: Foley's application for a Las Vegas team, and a bid from Quebecor to revive the Quebec Nordiques at a new arena in Quebec City. Both Las Vegas and Quebec were invited to move into Phase II of the league expansion bid in August 2015, and subsequently advanced to Phase III.
At the league owners' meeting on June 22, 2016, in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas expansion bid was approved by a unanimous vote, with play to begin in the 2017–18 NHL season. The team became the first major professional sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas, and the first NHL expansion team since 2000. Foley committed to pay the league's $500 million expansion fee and began the process of hiring the team's principal staff and determining its official identity. Foley announced that former Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee would be the franchise's first general manager. On November 22, 2016, the name was revealed as the Vegas Golden Knights.
Start of operations: 2017–present
On March 1, 2017 (coinciding with the league's trade deadline), the team completed its expansion fee payments and filings, making it eligible to formally begin operations such as free agent acquisition, and participation in league meetings. Five days later, the Golden Knights made their first personnel move by signing Reid Duke to a three-year entry-level contract.
coaching the Golden Knights during their inaugural 2017–18
season. Gallant was named as the head coach in April 2017.
The team announced inaugural head coach Gerard Gallant on April 13, 2017. Over the next two months, the Golden Knights developed their farm system, announcing affiliations with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.
The team participated in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on June 21, 2017, selecting an available player from all 30 teams in the NHL. The draft picks were announced at T-Mobile Arena during the NHL Awards ceremony. Some notable selections included goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the Pittsburgh Penguins and winger James Neal from the Nashville Predators. At the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Cody Glass was the first player selected by the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights played their first game on October 6 against the Dallas Stars with Neal scoring the franchise's first two goals en route to their first victory.
The team's inaugural home game was played on October 10, 2017, hosting the Arizona Coyotes as the second game of a home-and-home series. In the aftermath of the October 1 mass shooting, the pre-game ceremonies honored the victims of the attack, and the team issued an appeal for donations to its charitable arm. With their 5–2 win, the Golden Knights increased their unbeaten streak to start the season to 3–0, an NHL record for an expansion team. The Golden Knights are the first team in NHL history to have started their inaugural season winning eight of their first nine games. During their tenth game, goaltender Oscar Dansk was injured becoming the third Golden Knights' goaltender to be injured during the season after losing starters Fleury and the recently acquired Malcolm Subban, forcing the team to start a fourth goaltender in 11 games with Maxime Lagace. Fifteen games into the season, Vadim Shipachyov became the first player to retire from the NHL as a Golden Knight when he decided to return to the Kontinental Hockey League. In December, the Golden Knights set another NHL expansion team record of six straight wins, a record they had previously missed when they lost their tenth game of the season, and established a new NHL record with eight straight wins. On February 1, 2018, the Golden Knights set the expansion team record for wins in a debut season with 34 wins after only 50 games, and then on February 21, 2018, set a record for most points by an expansion team in the inaugural season with 84. Clinching a berth for the 2018 playoffs on March 26, the Golden Knights became the first team since the Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers in the 1979–80 season to make the playoffs in their inaugural season in the league. On March 31, the Knights clinched the Pacific Division title, becoming the first true expansion team in the four major sports to win its division in its inaugural season (not counting all-expansion divisions, as was the case in the 1967–68 season). They had led the Pacific since December 23, 2017.
On April 11, the franchise won its first playoff game in a 1–0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the first game of the series. Six days later on April 17, the franchise earned their first playoff series win against the Kings, winning the fourth game by a 1–0 score, which also became their first playoff series sweep. The Knights became the first team in NHL history to sweep their first playoff series in their inaugural season. On May 6, 2018, the Golden Knights defeated the San Jose Sharks four-games-to-two, becoming the third team in NHL history to win multiple playoff series in their inaugural season, and advanced to the Western Conference Finals. On May 20, Vegas defeated the Winnipeg Jets to win the Western Conference Finals in five games, becoming the third NHL team to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals in its inaugural season, after the Toronto Arenas in 1918 and the St. Louis Blues in 1968. The Golden Knights would lose the Stanley Cup Finals to the Washington Capitals in five games.
In the 2018–19 season, the Golden Knights returned to the playoffs as the third seed of the Pacific Division. They were defeated in the First Round in seven games by the San Jose Sharks.