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Tag: George McPhee (Page 1 of 13)

McPhee’s Lottery Luck

This Saturday the Golden Knights will have a 10.3% chance to win the NHL Draft Lottery and be awarded the first selection in June’s Entry Draft. It’s the first time Vegas will participate in an NHL “competition” against the Original 30, and while we have no clue what kind luck the new franchise will have, we can only hope GM George McPhee’s luck carries over.

McPhee has been a general manger in the NHL for 17 years, six of which is Capitals missed the playoffs and were in the lottery.

YearFinish (to last)Lottery OddsPick NumberDraft Selection
19995th8.1%*7thKris Beech
200212th0%12thSteve Eminger
20043rd14.2%1stAlex Ovechkin
20064th10.7%4thNicklas Backstrom
20074th10.7%5thKarl Alzner
201414th0.5%13thJakub Vrana

*In 1999 the Thrashers joined the league. The Internet struggled back then, so finding exact odds was tough. If anyone finds them, let me know

Hopefully McPhee is partying like it’s 2004. With just a few percentage points more than the Golden Knights will have this year, McPhee hit the lottery and jumped up to get Ovi. 

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“Dirty” Players Who Could End Up As Golden Knights

The NHL postseason is emotional for players and fans alike. Players are so charged up and are giving everything they have. Off the ice, rabid fans are losing their voices in packed NHL arenas. The intensity is so high players are throwing their bodies around at full speed, which is why you see occasional dangerous and sometimes nasty hits. In the playoffs these incidents get amplified because of the possible impact. Nazem Kadri’s low check on Alex Ovechkin was the perfect example.

Many, including myself thought the hit was strategic and unjust. Watching it over and over left me furious with Kadri’s obvious motive.

So what do we do if players with a tainted reputation end up in Las Vegas? How can we root for dirty players that potentially suit up for the Golden Knights? Some players made mistakes and have cleaned up their acts and others continue to cheapshot. Let’s be glad Matt Cooke is out of the league.

Matt Calvert

Calvert’s name has made multiple mock drafts, including Fox Sports earlier this month.

If you didn’t know Calvert before the playoffs, I’m sure you do now.

His late attack on Tom Kuhnhackl was clearly malicious and deserved the suspension. Emotions got the better of him, but overall he’s not a repeat offender. Calvert is a decent NHL player and Vegas fans shouldn’t find it difficult to root for.

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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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Neal Pionk Going Pro; Golden Knights Appear In The Mix

NCAA runner-up Minnesota-Duluth defenseman Neal Pionk finally announced his intentions to forego his college eligibility and turn pro. After weeks of deliberation the sophomore decided to leave Duluth to pursue a career in the NHL.

We profiled Pionk last month after the Golden Knights had reportedly shown interest in the college free agent. He went undrafted in the Entry Draft ultimately because of his 5’11″/181 pound stature. Now, after dominating on the NCAA level, teams are looking past height and more on Pionk’s high level skill. As a two-way, puck moving defenseman with a hard shot, NHL teams are ready to make offers.

He’s good in his own zone. But when you watch him, what stands out is how good his shot is, and he can score with it. He’s got a Shea Weber quality to him with the shot. Just got a missile. – Dave Starman, ESPN College Hockey analyst and scout

Vegas has the opportunity to take a risk on a player that was passed over by all 30 clubs. Last week, I asked Kelly McKrimmon a few questions about Pionk and other college prospects. He wouldn’t comment directly, but confirmed they’re still on the scouting trail of college free agents.

I know that we’ve had real good coverage. We’ve targeted a very small number. To be honest with you, we haven’t cast a wide net. -Kelly McKrimmon, Assistant General Manager

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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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Head Coaching Rumor Roundup

With the bow tied on the NHL regular season and the heads already beginning to roll (Lindy Ruff) off the coach chopping block, it’s time for a recap of where we stand in Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights have made it clear they aren’t in a hurry to hire the first head coach in franchise history. There was a moment there back in February when McPhee/McCrimmon and the Golden Knights braintrust discussed moving up the timeline, and even conducted interviews with at least a pair of coaches, but the timeline quickly shifted back to “after the season.”

So now that we are here, it’s time to take a look at the most likely coaching candidates, their connection to Vegas, and why we here at SinBin.vegas believe each make sense to stand behind the Golden Knights bench in October. But first, here’s a little recap on what’s going on (or at least what he’s telling us) inside George McPhee’s mind when it comes to the coach search.

We want someone who is very current on the game, who’s progressive. I’ve had the opportunity to work with lots of coaches in the NHL. Had great experiences in the world championships working with several NHL coaches. So, we know who’s out there. We decided way back in August, that we were going to take our time and interview along the way. – GM George McPhee

George is looking for a particular type of of coach. He’s not looking for a first-termer. He’s looking for a guy who’s learned a lot and has coached a couple of other teams. I would say the coach that will name is going to be a recognizable individual but he has to fit George’s culture. –The Creator

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

It’s not an easy process to evaluate players when you are just getting going like we are and I don’t want to be evaluating a coach and players at the same time. I’d rather have the coach be someone who we know has done the job and can do the job and we’ll be focusing on players for the next few years… In Washington I went with a lot of guys it was their first time around, my preference would be an experienced guy…The coach certainly has to fit the model we are looking for. I’ve liked putting together high scoring entertaining teams. It’s a fun way to play the game and a fun way to watch the game. -McPhee

Head Coach Candidates for Vegas Golden Knights

Jack Capuano
Resume – New York Islanders Head Coach (2010-2017)
Style – The former defenseman coaches the same way he played. Defensive, gritty and physical. Blocking shots, winning neutral zone battles, and puck possession are his pillars.
VGK Connection – Capuano was the head coach while McPhee was an advisor to GM Garth Snow in New York.

Capuano emerged as the favorite in February, but each passing day his stock slips as the Golden Knights prove they have their eye on others. He has been interviewed by both McPhee and The Creator for the position in Vegas. Cappy is still the leader in the clubhouse, meaning he’ll get the job if they can’t find anyone better or McPhee truly didn’t want a head coach in the room prior to the Expansion Draft.

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