Hockey

The Bad Reputation of the Vegas Golden Knights

|
Image for The Bad Reputation of the Vegas Golden Knights

When the Vegas Golden Knights broke into the league and put together a team that went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season, the NHL looked to have a new golden child at their fingertips. A team that was going to be fun, fan favourites, and attracting top talent to a new and developing market.

That did not last very long, however. The Golden Knights very quickly became notorious for treating loyalty as an afterthought in a relentless pursuit of victory. Players would be included in trade rumours constantly, putting an unnecessary dose of uncertainty in their lives. Some would end up staying, but others got moved, often unceremoniously or early on in longer-term contracts.

The team makes moves like they’re playing franchise mode in NHL 22 with morale turned off. The amount of roster turnover in this organization is significantly higher than one would expect from a team that is a regular competitor and more reminiscent of a bottom feeder just trying to find cheap talent to ice a full roster.

Parting Ways with a Fan Favourite

Marc-Andre Fleury, the reigning Vezina winner at the time, was traded for Mikael Haakarainen. He was apparently not privy to trade discussion, not consulted on the possibility of being traded elsewhere, and he found out on Twitter. He was THE day-one Golden Knight. He was the face of the team in the early days, the marketable star player, the fan favourite, and a long-time and highly respected veteran NHL’er.

One would think that Fleury deserves the respect to be consulted or at the very least informed of trade talks. But from the sounds of it, he was left completely in the dark and traded to a team that he might not even report to. For a player the Golden Knights terminated the contract of shortly after. The franchise handled this trade as poorly as it could.

Poor Communication Burns a Bridge

Vadim Shipachyov was the second player ever signed by the Golden Knights and was expected to be a big part of their opening day lineup. But after being on their top line through the preseason, he was left off the opening day roster. In the month that followed, he played in just three games and was sent to the AHL twice (only reporting for one practice).

Despite being told he was doing fine, Shipachyov never got a spot in the lineup, never saw much ice time, and never really was communicated with properly through the signing and playing process. He wanted NHL ice time more than anything but was continually overlooked by others and sent down to the minors. Vegas’ poor communication and unclear expectations caused a ton of hardship for a player just trying to chase a dream to play in the NHL.

Asset Management? Who Needs It

In this offseason, Max Pacioretty was traded for nothing. The second example of trading a star player for what amounts to no return. So to follow this trade tree, the Golden Knights traded this high-scoring winger, who they traded Nick Suzuki and draft picks for, for Future Considerations (AKA, nothing). This is horrible asset management, for starters, but also another situation where high-calibre players are not shown any respect or loyalty.

Publicly Lying is Always a Good Strategy

Vegas’ original goalie coach, Dave Prior, was publicly lied to in a way that was potentially harmful to his career.

After being placed on administrative leave at the end of his contract one June, he remained there in limbo until head coach Peter Deboer said that Prior was promoted to Director of Goaltending and working out of Ontario. GM Kelly McCrimmon also said this a couple of weeks later.

But according to Prior, that was completely inaccurate. He says the Golden Knights removed him from the organization. But by making it sound like he was still a part of the organization, it has a detrimental effect on a career as other teams aren’t going to inquire about one’s services.

Once again, poor communication, misrepresenting the facts, and allegedly outright lying.

A Coaching Carousel

Head coaches. It’s normal for a team to cycle through head coaches. This is the position that takes the brunt of the blame for a team’s performance before anyone else even gets looked at. But a general trend is that coaches of good teams have a bit more leniency and have slightly longer tenures.

Entering their sixth season, the Golden Knights are on their third coach. Gerard Gallant, the team’s first coach, was fired after starting a season 24-19-6. Deboer was let go after this past season as the Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time, during a season they were short most of their best players for long periods of time due to injury.

What Will Happen to the Golden Knights with this Bad Reputation?

Quite simply, the Golden Knights have quickly become one of the worst-managed franchises in the NHL. Their treatment of people in the public eye, players and coaches, is bad enough. We can only wonder what it’s like for behind-the-scenes staff.

Any goodwill the team earned from its early success, showmanship, and passionate fan base will be disappearing quickly.

You cannot treat staff like the Golden Knights have. As disposable assets that can be moved at any time. No player is going to want to sign with that team. No player is going to accept a trade to that franchise. Or conversely, the Golden Knights are going to end up on a lot of No Trade/Movement Lists to shut anything down before it starts.

It is going to be incredibly difficult very soon for Vegas to attract talent. If they want to save their franchise from imminent ruin, a complete overhaul must be done to change the culture. To remove the win-at-all-costs, cutthroat mentality to one more focused on building foundations and growth. A culture that will allow players the safety and security of not being on the trade block all the time. One that will promote the development of a strong locker room and relationships between the different levels of hockey ops.

main image credits:

Embed from Getty Images

Share this article

Hey! I am a lifelong, stubborn Oilers fan who somehow still has hope that next season will be the year. Hockey is my biggest interest and hobby, so I follow the whole league as closely as I can.