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Best of Dan Podheiser

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Top 10 names for a Las Vegas hockey team

17 August 2015

Las Vegas sports fans are starting to get excited at the prospect of having a National Hockey League team in their city.

Billionaire businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof brothers, the former owners of pro basketball's Sacramento Kings, are working together to bring a professional hockey team to Las Vegas. The team would play at the $375 million arena under construction behind the New York-New York Hotel & Casino on the Strip.

Two weeks ago, the group's application to the NHL for a new franchise in Las Vegas moved to Phase II, and Foley will now submit information about the Las Vegas market to the league.

In the middle of the push for a Vegas hockey team is poker star Daniel Negreanu, who says he wants to buy a piece of the organization if the city is awarded one. Negreanu, poker's all-time leader in tournament winnings, told the Toronto Sun he'd "be at every game and maybe have a hockey talk show of my own."

The buzz about bringing an NHL franchise to Las Vegas is growing, but there's still one crucial detail to be hammered out before anyone can truly get excited about the team: the nickname. A team's nickname defines everything about its identity, from the vibe in the arena to the grittiness of the fan base. There's a reason why the Oakland Raiders' fans are more feared than, say, the Orlando Magic's.

A city like Las Vegas provides ample opportunity to tie the town's history and image to the name of a sports team. I've narrowed down my top 10 favorites, and I must say I'm pretty excited about the prospect of one of them becoming a reality.

10. The Degenerates

When you think about advertisements for Las Vegas, you see beautiful architecture, gorgeous women and casual gamblers winning with a big smile on their faces. Las Vegas is paradise, remember. What could go wrong?

But go to just about any casino in the world and you'll see your fair share of people who just can't seem to find a spell of good luck. Of course, these people aren't just running bad – they're the ones who don't know how to stop when they're down and don't realize the games they're playing are tilted toward the house.

Meet the degenerate, as much a staple of the Las Vegas community as the exotic dancer or the $4.99 breakfast buffet. The name might not instill fear in a hockey team's opponent, but it would surely cause some confusion. And maybe that's enough to gain an edge – which is something the degenerate is always hopelessly seeking.

This will never happen. But I can dream.

9. The Dry Heat

Miami has the Heat in the NBA; why can't Las Vegas have the Dry Heat?

I'll show myself out.

8. The Razors

Who doesn't love a good double entendre? On the one hand, a razor is a sharp metal object that will cut and slash its way to victory. No hockey team wants to play the Razors when they're on a winning streak. (Plus, think of the arena endorsement possibilities: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Schick Shack!")

In poker, a player becomes a "raiser" when they elect to increase the wager on top of another player's bet. And nobody likes to be raised at the poker table! Talk about one name carrying a double dose of power.

On a side note, you've gotta love the English language for homophones.

7. The River Rats

According to PokerZone's dictionary, a River Rat is "a player who often plays weak cards and has overcome significant odds to win several hands determined by the final card dealt; a player who does not fold bad hands and has laid many bad beats."

Sounds to me like the Las Vegas River Rats would be a team that never gives up, that always defies odds to win in the closing seconds of the game and that constantly pisses off its opponents. Perfect.

Plus, there used to be a minor league hockey team called the Albany River Rats, so the team might generate a following in New York's capital district.

6. The Midnight Idols

My first trip to Las Vegas was in 2014, when I spent two weeks covering the World Series of Poker Main Event. Growing up, my only real impressions of the city came from Vegas Vacation, and nobody from that movie defined Las Vegas more than the Midnight Idol himself, Wayne Newton.



If this happens, the Midnight Idols would have to have uniforms that look like bright red sport coats, and their helmets would be constructed to look like Wayne Newton's hair. And Randy Quaid would be awarded season tickets so that he could sit behind the bench as the team's "superfan."

5. The Rat Pack

Negreanu says he'd call a Las Vegas hockey team the Rat Pack, an ode to the entertainers who defined Las Vegas in the 1960s. I can dig that – the team name should carry some of the city's history. A pack of rats is also a nuisance to just about anything it encounters. This name has everything going for it.

4. The Teasers

If you've never heard of Nolan Dalla's patented "teaser wheel," you're missing out on hours of reading and gambling entertainment.

A teaser bet is a type of sportsbook parlay whereby the bettor is able to adjust the spreads in two different games in exchange for paying a steeper price. For instance, in football, a bettor might pick two 7-point favorites to win, "tease" the lines down to 1 point for each game and pay the house a 10% vig (i.e., the wager price would be -110 for both teams to cover the adjusted spreads).

Nolan Dalla's teaser wheel takes the teaser and explodes it into a frenzy of NFL degeneracy. In a teaser wheel, the bettor will tease one team's line and pair it with every other game on the docket for that day. So if a bettor is confident the Patriots will cover an adjusted 1.5-point spread against the Redskins, he'll tease the Patriots and both teams from every other game — that's up to 28 bets, if there's no byes that week. If the Pats cover, it's a great day, because at least one bet on every game will win, and sometimes, both bets on a game will come in, if the final margin of victory is within six points of the spread. If, however, the Pats don't hold up their end of the bargain, the bettor loses. Every. Single. Bet.

Which brings us back to the proposed hockey team nickname, the Teasers. If you don't like that kind of action in your life, you probably shouldn't even live in Las Vegas. But if you're a local – a true degenerate, like Nolan Dalla – you embrace the teaser wheel and everything it embodies. To me, that is what is great about Las Vegas. Every day you wake up, you can either strike it rich or lose it all. The hockey team's name should embody that quality.

3. The Coolers

Another one of my favorite Vegas-centric movies, The Cooler is about a guy (William H. Macy) whose bad luck is so powerful that a casino hires him to walk around and kill the action when players are winning at the tables.



Imagine a hockey team that carried that same type of power. Every time a road team came to the New York-New York, it'd suddenly lose its ability to win. That's what I call a home ice advantage!

2. The Strips

Las Vegas and the Strip go hand in hand. While this name doesn't have a lot of pizazz, it's simple and to the point. It's easy to remember and easy to say.

"You catch the Strips last night?"

"No, it's August."

See, doesn't the name fit?

1. The Double Downs

This name carries epic cross-marketing potential with KFC, inventors of the ridiculous Double Down sandwich, which uses fried chicken cutlets as buns instead of bread.

And here's another marketing opportunity: Every time the final score of a Double Downs game totals 11 (a rare occurrence in hockey, but not out of the realm of possibility), every fan who attended that game is awarded a ticket to a future Double Downs game. And if that second game's score totals 10, they win a lot of money. It's brilliant!

This has to happen. Imagine all the degenerates who'd buy Double Downs season tickets purely for the "double down" potential!
Dan Podheiser

Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.
Dan Podheiser
Dan Podheiser has covered the gambling industry since 2013, but he has been an avid poker player for more than a decade, starting when he was just 14 years old. When he turned 18, he played online poker regularly on U.S.-friendly sites until Black Friday in April 2011.

Since graduating from Emerson College with a degree in journalism in 2010, Dan has worked as the sports editor for a chain of newspapers in Northwest Connecticut and served a year as an Americorps*VISTA, writing and researching grant proposals for a Boston-based charity.

Originally from South Jersey, where he still visits occasionally to see his family (and play on the state's regulated online poker sites), Dan lives in Brighton, Mass. with his wife and dog.