Watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s easy to see why some teams are perennial cup chasers and why the rest chase the draft lottery. If you look at the team’s that didn’t make the playoffs this year, you end up with a lot of the same teams from years past. Organizations like the Oilers, Sabres, Hurricanes, Coyotes, Leafs and others barely sniffed the playoffs. Fans in these cities never expect to win… Really when’s the last time Toronto fans felt good about their team?
You can give the Sabres, and Coyotes a small break because they have talent. The Leafs and Canes are a mess, but are rebuilding. Lastly, there’s the ever failing Oilers. They solidified their bench by hiring Todd McClellen, and drafted McJesus #1 overall. However, Edmonton didn’t show any progress and failed to make the playoffs for the 10th straight season. Imagine that from a franchise that hoisted five Stanley Cups in the 80s. Other than the play of Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot, the Oilers did nothing to excite their die-hard fans. Oh I apologize, Edmonton had a funeral for an old, depressing, run-down arena.
Now, you can always learn from failing teams, the mistakes are easy to spot. Poor hiring, horrible scouting, and bad leadership. What about non-playoff teams that should be still playing? The Bruins, Canadiens, Avalanche, and Senators all held playoff spots this season. We know what happened up in Montreal, tough to win without Vezina winner Carey Price. The Habs front office is taking the lets move on and forget about it approach. The Owner and GM have already announced Michelle Therrien will be back, and they expect Price to be 100% healthy. Even though you could argue Montreal should’ve fired their coach, you can understand their patient attitude. If a coach doesn’t have his star goalie, than its tough for fun to win. I accept that.
Same approach is happening in Boston. The Bruins were expected to make the postseason, and epically failed. Some thought it was over for Claude Julien, but B’s management retained the Cup winning coach. The Bruins have shuffled a lot since their cup winning team, and it’s not working. Trading Johnny Boychuk may have been a cost cutting move, but the blue line hasn’t been the same since. Just ask Dana Lane, he’ll get you caught up. Now Bruins management are trusting their system, and that started by keeping Julien.
It’s organizations like Montreal, and Boston that The Creator and his front office can learn from. Both play in huge hockey markets with the pressure of winning every season. If they’re not competitive fans will let them know. For better or worse, pressure from fans can impact the way a team is built. Owners open up their checkbooks, and GMs take on bigger risks for a chance to play in May. It’s all about a culture of winning, and implications show The Creator wants that culture here in Las Vegas. The Bruins and Canadiens built Cup teams based off fan pressure and a winning culture. In Vegas, pressure won’t be coming from fans though, it’ll be coming from the eager owner himself. A winning culture comes from the top, and we already know our owner’s a winner. He’s already expressed his desire to win right away. Sure he’s got lofty goals, but that should rub off on players and fans.
It’ll start by building through the expansion draft, and rookie draft but that’s not good enough for Foley. He’ll make his splash through free agency, and trades. It could take a season or two, but Las Vegas is a very attractive market for players. It may be tough to get established players to sign right away, but year two or three is a different story for The Creator, who could lure in a big free agent or two. Maybe James Van Reimsdyk or John Tavares. We all know my thoughts on Jack Capuano and how he’d be a great introductory coach. Just imagine Foley reuniting him with Tavares. Who knows maybe the aging Sedin bros can Cup contend in Vegas for a couple seasons. Hey, Jagr is effective at 44… Keep in mind Foley will have an easy sales pitch; brand new team, brand new arena, he’s got money to spend, building a new team’s history, only sports stars in town, state with no income tax, and … I’m forgetting the biggest incentive. Las Vegas.
Boston and Montreal failed to make the postseason but don’t feel bad for their spolied fans. Chances are both teams will contend for the Eastern Conference next season. It’s just how winning organizations are run. The Bruins and Habs could’ve easily gotten away with firing their coaches, but they each trusted their system. It’s the system of a winning culture The Creator can learn from. Some owners and teams have it, some don’t. The Las Vegas
Knights will have that system. Owner Bill Foley embodies that winning attitude, which will rub off on his players, fans, and all of Southern Nevada.