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McPhee Finds Silver Lining In Protection Lists Being Made Public

The decision by the NHL to make the Expansion Protection Lists public was applauded by media and fans alike, but GM’s around the league were not so thrilled about the idea of having to reveal their “secrets” to the rest of the world. We’re not sure which side the Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee was on during the discussions the GM meetings, but we sure know what he thinks about the lists being public now.

We like it from our stand point because now everyone is going to know what’s going on. We think teams are going to call us and say, ‘You know what that team over there has exposed a guy that we would really like to have. Can we do a deal with you to get that guy.’ That’s kind of the secondary market we are looking at that could be really fruitful for us. –George McPhee to The Rink Rats

That secondary market is one we’ve been talking about for a long time, and is the main asset the Golden Knights have in the Expansion Draft. Despite the many mock drafts out there striving to find the 30 best available players, Vegas is much more likely to utilize every selection from every team as a tradeable asset. The goal isn’t to put a winning team on the ice this season, it’s to build the foundation of the franchise. Whether it’s a deal to take a player, a deal to not take a player, or a deal to give a player to someone else, McPhee and the Golden Knights will be working hard to turn the Expansion Draft into NHL currency. That currency being draft picks and/or prospects, and friendly contracts… not 32-year-old former Stanley Cup winning Captain right wingers.

McPhee makes a great point in saying that if the lists were not public, other GMs wouldn’t be able to see the entire universe of available players and it would limit the deals Vegas could pull off. Of course, George could have simply told his fellow GMs which players are available during phone calls, but there is an element of time involved in this draft and also a level of gamesmanship that would have been involved that’s no longer there. (It’s hard to get a fair deal with someone who has much more information than you do.)

The Creator mentioned in multiple interviews over the past week that he expects his team to end up with plenty of draft picks. Sitting in on the mock drafts, he knows the strategy McPhee is planning on deploying, and odds are, that strategy includes a heck of a lot of wheeling and dealing. The lists being public will hopefully speed up the process and expand that secondary market in a way that majorly benefits the Golden Knights. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again because it’s crazy, but true. For 72 hours at the end of June, the Golden Knights own the rights to every single player left unprotected in the Expansion Draft. A pool of over 400 players. All roads go through Vegas from June 17th to the 20th, the Golden Knights must take advantage of it.

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Who Waited For Whom, And Why It Took So Long To Bring Gallant On Board

November 27th is a date that will forever live in the mind of new Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant. That’s the day he was let go from the Florida Panthers, paving the way for him to make history in Vegas.

But November 27th was 137 days before The Creator and George McPhee announced the knighting of Gerard Gallant. One has to wonder why it took so long, and more importantly, who caused the holdup.

We felt that we had a process that we wanted to go through, Kelly (McCrimmon) and I had discussed how we wanted to do this. I guess there are three issues why we took our time. First of all we didn’t have any players to coach, so we weren’t in a rush to have a coach, and we had so many other things to do. We had to get our priorities in order and take care of some of other things before we got to the coach. The second thing is when you have time in this business you use it. We needed every bit of it. The third reason was there were some people who had requested we talk to them at the end of their seasons. So, we went through the entire process. We did it the way we wanted to, and it worked out very well for us. We got the right person for this team and we did it in the timeline we set for it. -George McPhee

And what did it look like from Gallant’s point of view?

The first time I talked to George about it was probably in mid-December, he gave me a call and asked if I had any interest. I said definitely I had a lot of interest in it. Then I did an interview in mid-January and I flew out here for two days and we met for 3-4 hours with him and Kelly McCrimmon, Misha Donskov, and the owner. From that point on we talked about once every two weeks about the job and the process he was going through to hire his new coach. It was good, it was a long process but it was real good and it was everything I expected when we talked. -Gallant on Hockey Central at Noon

Gallant’s initial interview happened in January. Right around the time rumors started to fly that the Golden Knights may move up their coach hiring. Then, they didn’t, and here we are now, with the same guy that caused the rumors in the first place behind the bench?

When we met him we really liked him and there was an inclination to maybe do this right now because there’s some risk in waiting. But we wanted to be able to come here today and say ‘you know what, we did this right, it was a comprehensive exhaustive process and we took our time and we got the right guy.’ I talked to Gerard about two weeks ago and said when the season ends this is going to happen fast. We have one other person to talk to and when we get through that we will know exactly what we are doing. Throughout the process we kept coming back to Gerard and we felt like he was the right guy, and on Monday night we said, you know what, he’s the guy, let’s go. –McPhee to the Rink Rats

Gerard in the mean time was scooping up interviews himself.

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Gallant’s The Right Man Today, But Will He Still Be In Four Years?

The Vegas Golden Knights got it right on their first coaching hire. GM George McPhee described Gerard Gallant as an honest man and a good leader. The Creator looked like a proud Papa approving who his GM brought home to dinner (I’ll go along with the analogy, but I still think Ken is weird). Yesterday’s introductory press conference was another big moment for the franchise. Gallant’s hiring is a sign in the right direction, but that certainly doesn’t mean there’s room for concern.

My main apprehension with Gallant’s hiring is his strong emphasis on player size. Of course, every team needs to play physical, intimidating hockey but to what extent?

I think it’s harder to build a team that plays a power game the way you built L.A. and the way Boston was. It’s almost easier based on today’s players to build a team that plays faster, that can attack faster offensively but also can attack defensively. -Kevin Weeks, NHL Network

Pittsburgh is the clear example of a team built for today’s pace of game. The Penguins are one of the smallest and least physical teams and yet won the Stanley cup on speed and pressure. And it’s not just the reigning champs. Other teams are evolving to match the speed and pressure of top NHL teams. LA fired Daryl Sutter and his dedication to big, physical play to adopt a more balanced roster. Heck, Florida sent Gallant packing (literally) from Florida for this very reason.

Gallant mentioned multiple times yesterday that size was important to the style of play he coaches.

We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, could move the puck quickly, pressure the puck in all three zones. Gerard and I talked about it. He said he wanted a little bit more size, and we just decided to go in a different direction. Were we on the same page every day of the week? No … philosophy was different. -Tom Rowe, Florida Panthers

If you look at NHL teams average height and weight, you’ll notice it doesn’t necessarily win games. Especially, this season. Scroll through friend of the site and spectacular columnist James Mirtle’s size chart. You’ll notice some of the biggest teams spit the bit this season. Colorado, Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Dallas and Buffalo were all in the top five in either weight or height. Playoff teams Pittsburgh, Chicago, Montreal, Ottawa and Boston are all in the bottom percentile of the league in both body measurements. 

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Watch The Full Gerard Gallant Introduction Press Conference

Our friends over at Fox 5 Vegas live streamed the entire press conference of the hiring of Gerard Gallant from this afternoon.

Here are some of the best quotes of the day.

**Huge shout out to Fox 5 for not only doing a live stream of the entire press conference, but also letting us use it. They are now our new TV channel. Step your game up 3, 8, and 13.**

Gerrard Gallant Named First Coach In Vegas Golden Knights History

Despite the fact that there won’t be an official “knighting” ceremony, former Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant is now Sir Gallant, the first head coach in Vegas Golden Knights history.

There is a great deal of excitement in the hockey community regarding what is happening with the Golden Knights and I am glad to now be a part of the team. We have a state-of-the-art practice facility being constructed, a world class home arena and from what I’ve heard, a very passionate and engaged fan base. I look forward to seeing that enthusiasm first hand and will work with George and the rest of the hockey operations staff to ice a team that Golden Knights fans will be proud to support. -Gallant in Golden Knights Press Release

Gallant was fired just 22 games into the season with the Florida Panthers with the reason cited as “philosophical differences.” Most believed it was due to disagreements over the use of analytics in deciding ice time and playing style, but Gallant denied that a few weeks after being let go.

Prior to his gig with the Panthers, Gallant spent four years as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That was widely considered an unsuccessful tenure, which led Gerard to take a job QMJHL with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Gallant led the Sea Dogs to back to back titles and went on to win the Memorial Cup as well in 2011. This renaissance thrust Gallant back on to the scene.

One of the key players on his Memorial Cup winning team was a big reason why Gallant found himself standing behind an NHL bench once again. The Panthers selected Jonathan Huberdeau with the 3rd overall pick in 2011. Gallant was instrumental in getting Huberdeau that far, and then was able to reunite with him in the NHL in 2014.

The saga surrounding Gallant’s release in Florida made international headlines, as did these two pictures (1 and 2). Following a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, Gallant was fired and left to take a taxi with assistant coach Mike Kelly (remember that name) who was released as well. But the oddity doesn’t end there. Normally when coaches are fired following an NHL game, it’s done immediately following the game and the media never gets a chance to speak to the coach. Well that was not the case with Gallant. However, no local media traveled from Miami to this particular game in North Carolina, so the Panthers allowed Gallant to speak to a few AP writers before making him aware of his release. The whole story is broken down in this excellent article from CaneCountry.com. It says a lot about the state of the Florida Panthers organization, but also about what kind of person the Golden Knights just hired.

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Stop It! Darryl Sutter Isn’t Coming To Vegas

Well, I guess we must go through this again. The same darn conversations followed Claude Julien’s release in Boston. Now, it’s Darryl Sutter, a two-time Stanley Cup winning coach getting the axe in LA. The writing was on the wall for Sutter and now another strong candidate is open to talk with George McPhee. Before we speculate Sutter’s direction, let’s just cut the cord now. Darryl Sutter will not be the head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights.

I feel like I’m that negative uncle you see a few times a year and he’s always just a complete asshat. You know, when you introduce the girl of your dreams and Uncle Sour comments out loud that the last girlfriend was hotter. That’s how I feel. I’m here to deflate people’s excitement, and it sucks, but every once in a while Uncle Sour’s pessimistic brain says something that sticks with you. Let’s hope this is that.

The first and most important reason the Golden Knights won’t hire Sutter is the price tag. The Kings paid the Cup winning coach $3M a year. His starting price is already too pricey for The Creator. With the abundance of jobs and the Babcock trickle-down effect, Sutter could easily make upwards of $4M a season. He will not be offered that much in Las Vegas.

“That’s probably a lot for us. I’ll tell you what we really want. George McPhee’s going to make the call. My call is going to be, is this a guy I can work with feel comfortable with. All the people we have in this organization keep their egos in check they are about winning hockey games or making a successful business. -The Creator on 2/10/17

That’s not enough? You could call Sutter a late bloomer of some sorts. His last five and a half seasons behind the bench were much more successful than his previous 12. Sutter finally tasted the celebration champagne and he’s not ready to rinse his flute. The Golden Knights will not be in position to make a run until Sutter is past 60 years-old. I’m not trying to age-shame anybody but let’s face it, not many coaches over the age of 60 go on to win the Cup. And just stop right now screaming the name Scotty Bowman into your phone as you read this. It’s Scotty effing Bowman for crying out loud, the man is a God D*** legend, and even for him winning at 68 years-old is an amazing story. Badger Bob Johnson was the only other coach to win the cup after 60 in the past 50 years. My point is Sutter won’t wait until he’s collecting Social Security to compete again. Here’s a text Sutter sent last year to Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman before he signed his extension with LA. He doesn’t sound like a coach looking to develop a franchise. 

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Last Chance To Buy Full Season Tickets; Team Sets Friday 5PM Deadline

Still thinking about buying season tickets to the Golden Knights inaugural campaign? Well consider your feet officially to the fire.

Vegas Golden Knights Chairman and CEO Bill Foley announced that the last day for fans to secure 2017-18 full season ticket memberships to Golden Knights home games will be Friday, April 7 at 5:00 p.m. PT. -Press Release

You’ve had 26 months (ticket drive launched on 2/10/15) to make up your mind, and now The Creator has give the definitive s**t or get off the pot. No more procrastinating allowed.

This is rather significant news in that there’s still two months before the Golden Knights fill their roster, and six months before they hit the ice, and yet they are capping season ticket sales. Ending season ticket sales means the remaining seats will be allotted for single game and group tickets, a number that was described to us as “already very manageable.” That number only gets smaller as each dilly-dallier comes in before Friday’s deadline.

Quite the feat when you consider the fact that the Predators, who entered the league in 1998, recently announced they sold out all 41 home games for the first time in franchise history this season. Today’s announcement ensures the Golden Knights should hit that mark in year one without any issue.

The response from the local population here in Las Vegas to our team really has been incredible. The fact that we have reached our full season ticket membership limit months before our expansion draft certainly illustrates that. -The Creator in Press Release

Fans will still be able to purchase split season (11 or 22 game) packages after the deadline and single game seats will go on sale sometime in the Summer. They have also created a wait list that will begin on Friday aptly named the “Can’t Wait Priority List.” For all the people that, you know, couldn’t wait to make up their mind over the last 26 months and now suddenly can’t wait to get their hands on season tickets.

Don’t be one of those people. If you want season tickets, just effing buy them already… or at least do it by 5PM on Friday. Otherwise, you are out of luck, and more importantly, SinBin.vegas reserves the right to make fun of you mercilessly.

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The team also sent out this sweet image in an email to those on their newsletter. That font is really starting to grow on me (hint hint #VivaVGK).

Introducing The Vegas Junior Golden Knights

Say hello to the next generation of SinBin.vegas readers, I mean, Golden Knights fans.

The Vegas Golden Knights announced today, April 4, that the team has formed a partnership with the Nevada Storm to create a new youth hockey travel program, the Vegas Junior Golden Knights. The Vegas Junior Golden Knights program will initially feature teams from the mite level through midget and will utilize all three city rinks, including the Golden Knights practice facility, the Las Vegas Ice Center and the SoBe Ice Arena. All existing Nevada Storm teams will be re-branded under the Vegas Junior Golden Knights name. -Press Release

The partnership connects the team with the community more than ever. Now, children in Southern Nevada will have an easier chance to play the game, and wear VGK colors while doing it. Hockey participation will undoubtedly grow in Las Vegas as more kids will want to play like their favorite Knight. We discussed last summer how the Kings and Ducks have done a great job developing their youth and HS leagues. Now Southern California has thousands of kids choosing to skate over other sports. For two decades the Golden State has had constant growth in youth hockey participation.

Courtesy of NHLtoSeattle.com (https://nhltoseattle.com/2016/06/20/usa-hockey-numbers-are-up/)

Hockey participation is up all across the nation and California consistently leads in player growth. It currently ranks #7 in the US for youth or high school programs. Brad Sholl, who was announced as the GM of the Golden Knights new practice facility was very close to Southern California’s youth hockey evolution.

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McPhee’s Plans May Not Match The Owner’s In Terms Of When To Win

Everybody’s got their own ideas on how to build the Golden Knights, how good to make them out of the gate, and how long it should take to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup to The Valley of Hockey (not letting that nickname die…yet).

However, there’s only one man who really controls the answers to those three questions, George McPhee. The problem is, I’m not so sure he and his boss are on the exact same page.

I have never said I’m going to be patient about winning (laughter). I think that our General Manager has maybe expressed that he wants to build from the ground up and he wants to build from the draft forward, I’ve always said my goal is playoffs in three and Stanley Cup in six. –The Creator on The Vegas Hockey Hotline

Read that how you may, but before you make up your mind, let me throw in another straw to stir up the drink.

When George McPhee was hired on July 13th no contract details were made available. No dollar amount, no term length, nothing. Maybe it’s because no one asked, right?

So, three weeks ago I sent in an inquiry to the Golden Knights asking for the information. I was quickly told that most NHL GM’s salaries are not made public, which is true. But term length is a different story, that’s made public by many organizations. See Pittsburgh, Montreal, and Chicago to name a few. So how long is McPhee’s contract?

We will not be disclosing the term length -Eric Tosi, VP of Communications

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The Creator Wants Protection Lists Kept Secret, He’s Wrong And Here’s Why

The visibility of the Expansion Draft protections lists is shaping up to be quite the war between the public and the powers that be in the NHL. The GMs made it rather clear at their meetings in Boca Raton, FL a few weeks ago that they had no interest in allowing the world to see what’s going on behind the scenes of their organization, and more importantly open them up to criticism on Expansion Draft errors.

That’s all makes sense, but as a member of the working hockey media, it’s rather difficult to feel too bad for 31 gentleman who each hold one of the most envious positions in the NHL and are compensated handsomely to do the job.

But now, our own front man has come out against making the lists public, and his reasoning is completely different than that of his top employee and McPhee’s 30 colleagues.

I’d rather not have them be public. I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks. So what we do is we don’t tell anybody anything. I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks – particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise. –The Creator to Puck Daddy

Now he does have a point, there’s definitely a level of interest that could be gained by having the Expansion Draft reveal be this massive surprise, but it’s a short sighted way of looking at the situation.

If the lists are made public, there will be at least three full days of speculation in which the words ‘Golden Knights’ will be at the center of. The surprise may be bigger (I disagree, and will address that in a second), but it’s also shorter.

If we learned anything from the recent Presidential election it’s that being in the news is a good thing. Every day it was something else and you couldn’t surf a website, scroll a timeline, or watch a television program without hearing the word Trump. He dominated the talk and eventually parlayed it into becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Every media member, every blogger, every fan of the sport will toy with the lists with their mind constantly on one thing, “which of these guys is going to be a Golden Knight.” VGK will be trending for a week rather than an hour.

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