The players will be new, and the uniforms will look different, but a strong lacrosse tradition will remain in Rochester, New York.
Following the relocation of the original Rochester Knighthawks to Nova Scotia after the 2018-19 season, where they will operate as the Thunderbirds, a new Knighthawks franchise has emerged in Rochester under the direction of Pegula Sports and Entertainment. On Wednesday, the new brand was revealed.
Same Knighthawks name, different identity.
“To help with confusion, but also for people that have been fans of the Knighthawks for a long time, it’s going to be a new team and an expansion team,” Knighthawks General Manager and Vice President of Lacrosse Operations Dan Carey said. “Everything about it is new except for the Knighthawks name. We wanted to have that association with the city of Rochester as well as the fans that are so passionate about the Knighthawks here.”
The Knighthawks unveiled their logo, color scheme, and operations staff during a franchise launch event at the Blue Cross Arena on Wednesday. Despite not having any players yet named to their roster, the Knighthawks are starting to build some momentum in the excitement category.
“The history and community impact of professional lacrosse in this market is strong and well storied,” said Rob Minter, vice president of business operations for the Knighthawks. “We’re thrilled to finally unveil the next chapter of that story as we introduce the new look and feel of our expansion club. This is another exciting step in our continued investment and support of sports and entertainment here in Rochester.”
The former Rochester Knighthawks were members of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League and National Lacrosse League for more than two decades, winning a total of five championships in the span.
“The Knighthawks and the city of Rochester have played an enormous part in the NLL’s history and have created some incredible memories for more than two decades,” said NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz. “We are excited the Knighthawks name will remain as we look forward to a new era of more great moments the fans and organization will create in the coming seasons. As we continue to expand our league, it is important to remember our roots and the communities that got us here.”
The new ownership group and operations staff have a unique task of building a new fan base, while tapping in to a strong lacrosse tradition in Rochester.
“It’s absolutely a challenge,” Carey said. “It’s something that’s difficult and you have to put the work in. The way we look at it, there are a lot of people in the city of Rochester that have been fans in the National Lacrosse League and we’re hoping that they continue to be fans of the Rochester Knighthawks and we can attract new fans too.”
Fans can look forward to a completely new look. The new Knighthawks identity will include a mix of a military-style green, black and white with silver accents. Rochester’s primary logo is a winged “R” outlined in the team’s main colors while the secondary logo features a flying hawk with gold accentuations in the bird’s beak, talons and feathers. Both representations will be prominently featured on the team’s home and away jerseys, which will be unveiled at a later date.
“I’m excited to start wearing it,” Carey said. “It’s unique, it’s different, it’s strong, and I think that ties into the city of Rochester as well as what we want to put on the floor for our product.”
Joining Carey on his staff is Craig Rybczynski, who will transition into the role of lacrosse operations manager after serving as director of communications for the former Knighthawks franchise for the past 20 years.
Rochester will have the first overall pick in the upcoming NLL Expansion Draft as determined by a coin toss between the Knighthawks and New York Riptide during halftime of Game 1 of the NLL Finals. The Riptide will select first overall in the 2019 NLL Entry Draft, with Rochester selecting second. A busy summer lies ahead for Knighthawks.
“It’ll be nice to be able to attach some players and some faces to that logo that we showed today,” Carey said. “We have a lot to look forward to but there’s a lot of work to do right now and we’re going to take one thing at a time.”