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Praise Be To Foley, Vegas Golden Knights Hockey Website

Mike Kitchen, VGK Assistant Extraordinaire?

As it stands right now the Vegas Golden Knights are a fully functioning NHL franchise, if you just ignore their roster of one. Vegas is now preparing for the 2017-18 season just like the 22 other teams no longer vying for the Cup. With the head coach Gerard Gallant comfortably in the Zamboni seat, it’s time to add his staff of assistants. The organization will want to add two or three coaches to help direct special teams. Mike Kelly (the other guy in the taxi¬†pictures), Gallant’s assistant in Florida and with the Saint John Sea Dogs, is the leading candidate to become one of those assistants, but there are still other seats to be filled.

In the NHL the assistant coach should be a good source of communication for the head coach and players. A hockey scout explained an assistant coach as the Tom Hagen of the team. The consigliere should always protect the head of the family and be trusted by the soldiers. Consider Gallant as the team Godfather and the soldiers as the players. The assistant coach will communicate the message. The Golden Knights will bring in a coach that should lead by example, communicate clearly and continuously work to improve the club. If that doesn’t describe Hagen, I don’t know what does. He politely told Tessio he couldn’t ‘get him off the hook’ and then sent him off to be killed. Okay, back to assistant coaching, here’s one potential individual who is currently in the sports pages.

Former St. Louis Blues head coach and assistant to Joel Quenneville, Mike Kitchen, was let go yesterday in somewhat of a surprising move.

Sources said Bowman likely fired Kitchen to reassert authority over personnel and send everyone, including Quenneville, a message going into next season. Bowman’s decision to fire Kitchen was also likely a move in self-preservation to pacify a demand for change coming. –Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune

Kitchen designed Chicago’s penalty kill during their 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup runs. Kitchen’s unit broke the top ten in 2014-15 stopping opponents 83.4% on special teams. However, it got worse after Chicago’s last parade. For the past two seasons the Hawks penalty kill was one of the worst in the league. Of course, Kitchen was evaluated after defensive production continued to drop. His players sealed his fate after being embarrassed by Nashville.

Putting the Predators series aside, Kitchen had a really solid run in Chicago. His tight relationship with Quenneville identifies his strong ability to coach and his loyalty. Gallant will need a defensive specialist and loyal companion to work along with during rough patches. Gallant’s initiatives and message will have to be understood by the entire team. Kitchen did that for seven years with Chicago.

Overall, Kitchen could do more for Vegas than Vegas could do for him though. As a former head coach, and two-time Stanley Cup winning assistant, he could make a real difference to a young franchise. Having the experience would be an added asset for Gallant. If Kitchen desires to become a head coach again, Las Vegas may never even appear on his radar. On the other hand, he just got fired as an assistant so the limited head coaching positions left may not even be available to him.

The Golden Knights could be a good franchise to rebuild his reputation. If Vegas succeeds in penalty kill efficiency, Kitchen would get plenty of praise. It’s a classic case of one hand washes the other. Remember, there is no Tom Hagen without the Corleones. But let’s face it, there’s no Corleone family without Tom Hagen.

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5 Comments

  1. PhiSig 150

    I love a good mafia/Godfather reference. I guess the on ice regime would be exactly what you’re describing. Organizational as a whole Foley is obviously the Godfather. McPhee is either consigliere or maybe even the underboss. Gallant is a Caporegime along the lines of a Clemenza or Tessio certainly important but ultimately replaceable. Did Jason write this one? Didn’t think you watched movies like the Godfather. I’m curious if Gallant’s eventual replacement might be added to his staff.

  2. Warren Shapiro

    I give a vote for former NEW YORK ISLANDER coach who was runner up for the head coach job Jack Cappanno. He was a good assistant and head coach. What do you think? He came very close with the Islanders. Lets hope he’s given a second chance somewhere.

  3. @Warren- not sure if you read us until until now, but we were big supporters of Capuano. I wouldn’t be opposed in bringing him in and but not sure he’d go that route. Still some spots where he could land.

    @PhiSig-

    You’re totally on to something there with Foley as The Godfather of the organization… and more so than Gallant. But I had to continue to play off of the assistant coach is the Hagen of the team. Assistant coach won’t have Foley’s ear, so it couldn’t go that far up the chain. I doubt they would hire his replacement because they would have to ride out 3-5 years before getting a sniff. Too long for some, and some of the assistants may already be alittle long in the tooth so outlasting Gallant seems tough to do. I’ll tell you who could replace Gallant and possibly become an assistant is Craig Berube. He’s currently the coach of the Chicago Wolves. Man, I would hate to see that.

    “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns. ” -Vito Corleone

    • PhiSig 150

      On ice I get it and that’s a nice metaphor for an assistant. I got where you were going with that. Just seemed at the press conference McPhee was quick to point out Gallant wouldn’t have any say in personnel. Maybe a better mob analogy would be the Sopranos. Foley is Tony pulling the strings behind the scenes. Gallant is Uncle Junior put out to the public to take any heat that might come but really is powerless at the end of the day and every one knows one day he’ll be sacrificed for the good of the family. That makes McPhee Silvio the trusted advisor to the boss and always has his ear. Duuuuuuke can be Furio, popular and charismatic but probably not going to last more than a few episodes (games). If he makes the roster he can be upgraded to Paulie Walnuts.

      As far as grooming Gallant’s inevitable replacement I was thinking maybe McPhee makes Gallant take on a young up and comer that’s not ready for prime time quite yet but given 3-5 years under the club’s watchful eye can be molded into Foley’s ideal coach.

  4. PhiSig 150

    Thanks for changing the byline. I knew that wasn’t nerdyenough to be one of Ken’s (photo shop has his fingerprints all over it though).

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