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By Danny Webster (contact)
Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024 | 2:52 p.m.
The newest addition to the Golden Knights is feisty and full of energy.
He also has sharp claws and a high ceiling for being a likable dog.
That was coach Bruce Cassidy’s scouting report for Maverick, a 9-week-old yellow Labrador Retriever who is the first team dog in Golden Knights history.
Maverick was chosen in collaboration with America’s VetDogs, a national nonprofit that specializes in providing service dogs free of charge to military veterans, active-duty members of the armed forces and first responders. Maverick will be with the Golden Knights between 16 and 18 months before going to a forever home.
“We’ve been talking about it for a bit, almost two years,” said Kim Frank, president of community relations and player initiatives for the VGK Foundation. “We just wanted to make sure it was the right fit and have everything in place here.”
This isn’t the first time America’s VetDogs has worked with an NHL team. In 2019, the New York Islanders had Tori — a mix of black and yellow Labrador Retrievers — as their team dog for a year-and-a-half.
Fans were able to submit names for consideration, but Golden Knights owner Bill Foley settled on Maverick because “building a Stanley Cup champion in six years, when people laughed at that notion, requires a maverick approach,” Foley said.
Maverick will spend his time in Las Vegas undergoing basic training and socializing with players, staff and fans. He will make his first public appearance prior to Thursday’s home game against the New York Rangers (7 p.m., Vegas 34).
“He’s a big part of this group already,” goalie Logan Thompson said. “We’re excited to have him.”
When asked who Maverick’s favorite player was, Thompson quipped, “I think it’s pretty obvious.”
“The energy I see in this puppy befits the name Maverick, and I’m not surprised the players found it fitting as well,” Foley said.
Frank said the Golden Knights met with America’s VetDogs
about two years ago to begin the process of getting a dog.
To no surprise, he’s already among the most popular figures in the organization.
In just 24 hours since Maverick’s announcement, a video featuring the dog posted on the team’s X account, formerly Twitter, garnered over 100,000 views more than 1,700 likes.
Maverick’s team debut was Sunday, one day before the Golden Knights faced the Nashville Predators. Sunday marked the day Brendan Brisson, Vegas’ 2020 first-round pick, got his first official call-up to the NHL roster.
“I guess I shared it with him,” Brisson said with a laugh. “He’s really cute. It’s going to be fun to have him around the guys.”
America’s VetDogs President and CEO John Miller said having Maverick around different environments, like City National Arena and T-Mobile Arena, will help him socialize so that when the time comes, he’ll be ready to be a service dog.
“Our goal is to have him as well-rounded and around a lot of experiences so that he can go to a veteran or first responder who lives a very active life,” Miller said. “The more he does that, the better shot he has of being a service dog.”
Follow on social
Fans can find more content of Maverick on Instagram (vgkpup) and TikTok (vgk.pup).
Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on X at twitter.com/DannyWebster21.