VGK
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Chris Gawlik’s New VGK Weekly Update – 10/21/20 – Did the House Lose?

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2020 has been an emotional year for the Vegas Golden Knights and those that support the team.

 

On January 15th, Girard Gallant was relieved of his duties and replaced by Pete DeBoer. On February 24th, VGK acquired Robin Lehner to have another high-quality goaltender in the event Marc-Andre Fleury sustained an injury. Lehner went on to “take” the net from Fleury, which started a whirlwind of controversy. Lehner and Fleury would alternate starts until the first round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Once the playoffs started, Fleury started just three games to Lehner’s fourteen. On August 22nd, Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted a picture that depicted a bloody sword with DeBoer’s name on it going through the back of Fleury. Right around then is when news broke of a potential handshake extension deal between Lehner and VGK for five years.

On October 3rd, the handshake deal became official when Lehner was extended for five years with a five million dollar average per year. The writing was on the wall for Fleury to leave the team before the 2020 – 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you view it, VGK could not find any takers for Fleury and his contract. VGK basically offered Fleury up for “free” to the league and was willing to put up draft picks to sweeten the deal. That does not mean Fleury is a bad goaltender or that anything is wrong with him. His contract is tough to take on since the salary cap is not going up for the next two years.

Photo Credit: NHL

We see the goaltending position being incredibly important this year. Marc and Robin are going to be our goaltenders as we go into the offseason and into training camp and into the season.Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon stated Monday, October 12th. McCrimmon is trying to walk things back a bit. Just days prior, he worked the phones trying to find a team to “give” Fleury to.

Suddenly, the goaltending position is “incredibly important.” VGK owner Bill Foley, recently said “There’s not a lot of places for him to land. And I’m glad there’s not. I like it. I’m glad that we’re in this situation. I hope it keeps working out that way. We’ve been talking about it in these meetings. If we’re playing four nights out of seven nights, we need two good goalies. I give them (McCrimmon and George McPhee) some input, but my input was ‘Boy if we can afford it, why don’t we keep two (no.1) goalies and give ourselves some real protection.”

Foley’s comments came across as very genuine.  Having two elite level goaltenders will give VGK an edge over every other team in the NHL. The bad part about keeping Fleury is not having seven million dollars to upgrade the roster elsewhere.

Keeping Marc-Andre Fleury meant that VGK would have to shed some salary somewhere else within the roster. Paul Stastny was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for a 4th round draft pick and Carl Dahlstrom. Fan-favorite, Nate Schmidt, was sent to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third-round draft pick in 2022. It is not often the house is in a bad spot in Las Vegas. However, the count was plus seventeen, and the Vancouver Canucks took their seat at the hot table to acquire Nate Schmidt to keep VGK compliant with the salary cap.

 

To summarize, VGK lost their coach, traded away a recent high dollar free agent acquisition, tried to give away the face of the franchise, and gave away VGK’s fan-favorite in 2020. Side note: 2020 continues to suck.

 

 

VGK Weekly Update
Photo Credit: Knights On Ice

The VGK faithful has had many “passionate” perspectives on recent moves made, and not made. Facebook and Twitter have been ugly, to say the least. VGK appears to have a business first and win at all costs mentality. Local and national media has taken notice of this. The spin is that VGK has a “loyalty” problem.

Will VGK’s recent moves sway other free agents from wanting to play in Vegas? That does not seem to be the case as Alex Pietrangelo agreed to a seven-year deal to play for The Knights. Pietrangelo was the best free agent available and did not hesitate to sign with Vegas. The sixty-one-million-dollar contract may have helped to ease any concerns he may have had.

You can’t have your cake and eat it” applies here. Sure, it would have been nice to see Fleury raise the cup in year one and see it passed off to Schmidt. It would have been nice to win game seven against the Sharks in year two. It would have been nice to get past Dallas and win the Stanley Cup in year three. However, none of those things happened. Changes must happen to get a team to the next level. Difficult decisions need to be made, decisions that may upset the fans. At the end of the day, it is about the logo on the jersey’s front, not the name on the back.

Professional sports can be a ruthless and cutthroat business. The players are “pawns” on a chessboard that owners move around trying to win a championship. As fans, we become connected to the “pawns.” When our favorite “pawn” is sent to another team, it may anger us. What is more important, keeping the “pawns” we like or having the ability to be a legitimate contender?

 

NHL News and Notes

 

There is much uncertainty about the 2020-2021 NHL campaign. The starting date, fan attendance, and how many regular-season games will be played are just a few of the hot topics. Bill Foley may have let the cat out of the bag about a potential division realignment for next season. He was asked about VGK having to face Nate Schmidt and responded with, “Yeah, but they’re going to be playing in the Canadian Division.” Hmm,  what exactly does that mean? The Canadian and United States border has been closed to non-essential travel due to COVID-19.  Could the border closure lead to a realignment for next season?

 

I am not going to lie, the Canadian Seven has a nice ring to it.

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-Chris Gawlik – Franchise Sports Media

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