Raiders' move a big blow to Golden Knights, even if NHL won't admit it

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Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Make no mistake - the Oakland Raiders' relocation is devastating news for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Despite what the NHL continues to say publicly about the NFL team's impending move to Sin City, Monday's vote that officially approved the Raiders' move to Las Vegas will likely sting hockey's newest expansion franchise in the long run.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly insisted in January that an NFL team in the Golden Knights' market "won't materially affect the business of the hockey team," and he reiterated that stance Monday.

"We believe both (teams) can be successful in Las Vegas," Daly told Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal shortly before the football club's move was confirmed.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley declined to address the actual impact of the Raiders' move on his club in his congratulatory statement Monday, instead merely welcoming the Raiders and touting the fact that Las Vegas is now part of "a select group of cities" to boast both an NHL and NFL franchise.

Nevermind that 17 NFL clubs are currently in NHL markets. Foley should be concerned about the Raiders' move into his city for a number of reasons.

For one, there's the corporate side.

Despite Daly's insistence in January that he's not worried because "the sports buy" for sponsorship is different in football than it is for hockey, Foley admitted to Carp on Monday that the Golden Knights now have a tougher road ahead.

There's also significant overlap between the two schedules. The football season goes from September to February, while the NHL regular-season calendar stretches from October to April.

Sure, the Raiders will only play eight home games per season, not including the playoffs, but if they make it to the postseason, as they're expected to do again next season and beyond, any positive noise generated by the NHL's arrival might be drowned out.

And it hasn't all been positive so far.

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Then there's the all-important matter of winning. Above all other selling points, fans are attracted to success, and the team moving to Nevada from Oakland is going to have a major advantage in that department.

The Raiders made it to the AFC wild-card game last season after going 12-4 in the regular season, and might have gone further had they not lost quarterback Derek Carr to injury.

They have the pieces in place to contend for the next few seasons. The NFL club won't be in Vegas until 2019, but it's unlikely the Golden Knights will be a playoff team by the time their NFL brethren arrive.

The Golden Knights are going to need star power to attract long-term fans and force them to divide their attention between the behemoth that is the NFL and the NHL, which is booming in California and Tennessee after years of growth, but is still largely a niche league in the southern U.S.

The NFL, by contrast, is a juggernaut. It's America's most popular sport for fans and gamblers alike, and while the NHL certainly isn't foreign in the area, it's proven to be a tough sell in the desert. Just ask the Arizona Coyotes.

Could both teams coexist and thrive financially? Absolutely. The Golden Knights will have a two-year head start on their NFL counterparts, and they've already secured 16,000 season-ticket deposits for their debut season.

But how many of those season-ticket holders are going to renew their packages when there's suddenly a more familiar and likely more competitive option for their hard-earned sports-attending dollars?

The fledgling hockey club was already going to have to compete with the myriad distractions in one of the entertainment capitals of the world, and soon it'll also have to contend with a beloved and all too familiar fixture of American sports culture.

Good luck, Golden Knights. You're going to need it.