Gerard Gallant confirmed this morning Haula is considered “month-to-month.” (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Injuries are a major part of hockey. Every team goes through them at various times and for various stretches of the season. For the Golden Knights, it’s come early and it’s come in the form of high-end forwards.
Alex Tuch missed the first eight games of the year and Max Pacioretty missed four games at the end of October. Both Pacioretty and Tuch have returned to the lineup, but the two guys they’ve played with on the Vegas second line haven’t been as fortunate. Paul Stastny went out in Game 3 and isn’t expected to return until late December at the earliest, and Erik Haula appears to be out for at least the balance of the calendar year.
Then there’s the suspension which has kept Nate Schmidt out for the first 20 games of the season. All in all, the Golden Knights have yet to play a game with anything resembling a full lineup, and the GM is frustrated.
I’d like to get healthy, for one game. just to see what we are. We just haven’t been. You know we rebuilt our second line and I think they’ve played two and half games together. Stastny’s been out most of the year, Pacioretty was out, Haula’s out, Tuch’s been out. We aren’t deep enough yet to not have everybody in. -George McPhee on Sportsnet 590 in Toronto
All in all, they’ve missed 39 games due to injury and 18 going on 20 due to suspension.
Nate Schmidt – 18 missed (100%) Paul Stastny – 15 missed (83%) Alex Tuch – 8 missed (44.%) Deryk Engelland – 5 missed (28%) Max Pacioretty – 4 missed (22%) Erik Haula – 3 missed (17%) Cody Eakin – 4 missed (22%) Ryan Carpenter – 1 missed (6%)
Following their latest nightmare of a road trip, all three trips have been now, the Golden Knights now sit at 3-8-0 on the road, 7-10-1 overall, and with a measly 15 points in the first 18 games. If you extrapolate those numbers over a full 82 game season, that’s 11-31-0 on the road, 32-46-4 overall, and 68 points. That is a disaster.
That is also why something has to change. Of course, the easiest change will be made available to the Golden Knights in two games, when Nate Schmidt is eligible to return from his suspension. It will almost certainly help, but relying on one player to completely turn the fortunes of a team around is like walking up to the craps table thinking you’re going to win rent for the month. It might happen, but realistically, it’s probably not.
Following the loss in Boston, reigning Jack Adams winner Gerard Gallant responded to a question about swapping Max Pacioretty and Jonathan Marchessault mid-game with this answer.
If you are not winning you are going to try things. That’s what a coach’s job is supposed to be. So you try and get a little spark. -Gallant
However, the team has barely tried anything nearly a fourth of the way through the season. They’ve made one call-up from the AHL, they’ve made voluntary changes on just one line, and they’ve never swapped more than one defenseman if not dealing with an injury.
One of our habits here at SinBin.vegas is to scour the Internet for any and all stories about the Golden Knights. Whether they are about ex-players, prospects, coaches, executives, or in today’s case the General Manager, if it’s out there, we find it. George McPhee’s name popped up in multiple places this week starting with an interview on Hockey Central in which he gave an update on Paul Stastny’s status, but that was the least interesting thing we found concerning the architect of the Golden Knights. Two stories worth sharing found their way onto the web, one good one, one not-so-good one.
We’ll start with the good story.
When McPhee was senior in college at Bowling Green the team he captained started the season 0-6-1. They went on to turn things around and win the CCHA regular season and playoff titles and made the national tournament. The head coach of that team was Jerry York. York’s team this year has another McPhee, George’s son, Graham. Graham’s team at Boston College was 0-5-0 and York had McPhee turn to his old man for a little reassurance.
You guys have probably never been 0-5-0. You just haven’t. But I’ve been there. Graham McPhee’s father was our senior captain at Bowling Green. We started 0-6-1. I told them I’ve been there, and that this team has a chance to become a very good team for us. Believe me, just because you start 0-5-0, doesn’t mean you have to have a lousy year. -York
A few days later, Boston College won their first game of the season and have won three straight since. Who knows what McPhee actually said to his son and how much of that message made it to Graham’s teammates, but it makes for a good story if we give all the credit to George, so we’re going to do that.
On to the other story, which is not nearly as positive for the Golden Knights GM.
While McPhee was the GM of the Washington Capitals he made a trade that sent Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers, for now NBC studio host, Anson Carter.
As the story goes, (you can read the whole thing here) the Capitals arranged a driver to bring Carter to his condo to gather his belongings before heading out to the Caps next game. Carter says he was on the phone with a female hairstylist while in the car setting up a time for her to meet with him to tend to his glorious dreadlocks.
Later, when he got to Washington D.C., Carter was called into the head coach’s office.
How has he never realized this!?! The guy lives in an ice rink! (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
If you thought you drank too much coffee, then you’ll enjoy this great anecdote from NBC Sports’ Pierre McGuire. The ‘Between the Benches’ analyst joked about bumping into a fully caffeinated George McPhee at an early Vegas practice in Washington.
You know you’re supposed to go to the rink everyday and learn something new. So, I came to the rink today in Washington and I’m sitting there and it’s dark and I’m by myself. Then all of a sudden this really in shape 60-year-old man sits next to me, George McPhee. Maybe, one of the best dressed general managers in the league, and obviously one of the toughest. He was a nasty piece of business. –Pierre McGuire on TSN 690 Montréal
When an award-winning GM and a high-profile hockey personality are casually sitting together, you’d think they’d be talking about something important. You know, like VGK’s PP deficiencies or highly rated prospects like Erik Brannstrom. Nope, the two spent time together talking about what was in McPhee’s cup.
So he says to me, ‘See what I’m drinking?’ I said no what are drinking George? He goes ‘I’m drinking coffee. In all my years in the league I didn’t start drinking coffee until this year… I feel that it helps my workload.’ I’m not kidding you. I was stunned. -McGuire
Everyday jamokes like me, can’t function without a hot cup of joe, and with all of the pressure being an NHL general manager brings, McGuire was floored by McPhee’s newest (off the ice) discovery.
At sixty! At sixty he just started drinking coffee. -McGuire
These two have a plan, and no contract situation is going to get in the way of it. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Since the Expansion Draft the Golden Knights have run the gamut as to how, when, and why they’ve inked deals with players. UFAs, RFAs, in-season extensions, offseason extensions, qualifying offers, arbitration hearings, holdouts, you name the situation, the Golden Knights have probably signed a player in it.
That being said, George McPhee has managed to keep a level of consistency with his contracts. McPhee’s way of putting it was, “there’s no hocus-pocus,” and if you dive deeper into his contracts, he’s right. From Fleury to Pacioretty to Stastny to Marchessault to Theodore, they are all pretty much structured the same, and that is something the GM thinks will help his team win.
As long as you’re consistent then the players you have coming up next for deals will buy in to what’s been done because they know they are not going to get special treatment and people that signed after them aren’t going to get special treatment. It’s a pretty consistent thing that we have done with our group to make it fair. The salary will distinguish some players from others because their talent levels are different, but in terms of how the contracts are done everybody pretty much gets the same. -George McPhee
It’s about a mentality in the locker room. There isn’t a hierarchy because the organization truly doesn’t give “special treatment” to any player. The team does what is best for the team and in doing it they treat every player equally. Something other teams say, but the Golden Knights have proven to actually do.
I think when it was laid out and explained to the player on why we were doing that, I think again it helps us manage the cap better and if we are doing that better, I think are chances of winning are better. So, he bought in. -McPhee
This was a comment about Shea Theodore, but it could easily be applied to Jonathan Marchessault, Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, and pretty much every other player who has re-signed with the Golden Knights over the past year. McPhee has a plan and he will abide by it, for the betterment of the entire organization, including the players in it. He’s proven he’s not afraid to go down any path to ensure it too. Just ask Nate Schmidt, William Karlsson, and now Shea Theodore.
It’s about setting a precedent, and it’s something this organization has done unbelievably well considering the short amount of time they’ve actually had players. It’s been 432 days since the Expansion Draft and when in a week the Golden Knights went from three (Shipachyov, Duke, and Hyka) to more than 40 players on the roster. Yet in that short period of time, the Golden Knights front office has a clear method of operation and it’s clearly on display for everyone to see.
I think when you explain what we’re trying to accomplish, why, and how we think it helps us build a better team (guys will buy in). -McPhee
And thus far, they seemingly have. Not only do the Golden Knights have an excellent, potentially Cup contending team, on the ice, but they have one of the cleanest salary caps in the league. Aside from David Clarkson, who they willingly took on to acquire a 1st round draft pick, there is not an albatross contract, there are not players the team is looking to get rid of, and not once has money held up anything the front office wants to get done.
Less than one year ago today, the Golden Knights had not played a single game and thus had no identity. One year later, the same cannot be said, and the identity that’s been established is about as perfect as any NHL team could ever wish for. That may be as impressive a feat as anything the Golden Knights achieved on the ice.
#67 is here to stay (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
George McPhee met with the media to talk about the trade for Max Pacioretty. Here’s absolutely everything you need to know about what he said and why it all matters.
Trade negotiations for Pacioretty began after the draft and it took a couple months to get done. It picked up considerably the last few days and then GM Marc Bergevin gave McPhee about seven hours to negotiate a contract with Pacioretty. The trade would not have happened at all if Vegas did not have a contract extension in place for Pacioretty. Trade with the team was contingent upon the deal with the player. The contracr extension was $28 million for 4 years or $7 million AAV against the salary cap.
Why it matters: This proves the Golden Knights would not have taken the risk to give up as much as they did if they did not have the guarntee that they would have Pacioretty for longer than just the one year. It also shows a bit of a template for what McPhee may be thinking in the Erik Karlsson deal. Not looking for a rental at this time, at least not at as steep of a price as he paid for Pacioretty.
McPhee confirmed a previous deal that Montreal had (reported as being the LA Kings) that did not work out because a contract extension could not be reached. Thus, Montreal was reluctant to allow Vegas to negotiate with Pacioretty before a deal was completed.
McPhee says he thinks Pacioretty fits well with the Golden Knights. Called him a scorer and a great two-way player that can play in all situations.
Why it matters: McPhee did not like the defense of the second line (Neal, Perron, Haula) last year. So he went out and acquired two strong defensive players that also have a lot of offensive potential. Pacioretty and Stastny will both help on power play and penalty kill. In McPhee’s mind the team is even better now than it was a year ago. (I agree.)
McPhee also specifically mentioned that Pacioretty has played for Gerard Gallant in the past (while Gallant was an assistant in Montreal).
We’ve added a couple of players in Stastny and Pacioretty that are very good two-way players, very good character people. So I hope that we are a better team than we were last year. Time will tell. -McPhee
Call it a holdout, call it a contract dispute, call it a player not showing up to camp because of a weird situation in the CBA, but whatever you call it, it’s starting to look and sound more and more likely that Shea Theodore will not be with the team when full training camp opens in less than a week.
Don’t call it a holdout. Or… Do call it a holdout. Doesn’t really matter either way. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
Theodore remains without a contract and thus, he almost certainly (even though McPhee said he’s welcome to) won’t be in camp with his teammates. The situation remains a tricky one for the Golden Knights and Theodore because the team is only required to offer him a deal worth less than $1 million and the player’s only recourse to attempt to coax more money out of the Golden Knights is to “hold out” of camp and possibly even regular season games.
GM George McPhee, speaking with the media at City National Arena yesterday did not make it sound like the two sides are on the verge of an agreement.
It’s always best to have all of your guys available, but I don’t feel any particular pressure. We’ll do a deal when the deal is right. If he’s not here, then someone else will play. -McPhee
He went into fairly good detail about why a deal is not in place yet.
It’s an interesting part of our collective bargaining agreement that there’s a group of players, like Shea, that don’t have arbitration rights. And as much as some people dislike arbitration, I’ve always liked it because it’s a tool to get a contract done. People get pressured into getting a deal done or you go to arbitration and you have a contract after arbitration. There’s a group of 10 or 15 good young players in the league that don’t have arb rights and don’t have contracts right now and it takes a while to work them out. It would be nice if they have arb rights because then it’d be done by now. -McPhee
What he’s really saying is that there’s no formal deadline, and because of it, there’s hardly any pressure for either side to bend their stance of what they want to get out of the negotiations.
Like every negotiation, it’s about leverage and timelines. Theodore’s only recourse to force the Golden Knights into seeing things his way (meaning giving him more money) is to stay away from the team, hoping his absence will be enough to change their mind.
For the first time since the 20 game suspension of Nate Schmidt was handed down by the league, GM George McPhee met with the media to answer questions. He opened with a quick statement explaining that he is unable to talk about the specifics of the situation but, admittedly against his better judgment (“I probably shouldn’t even talk about this”), did to go into a bit of detail about how the Golden Knights handle supplements with their players.
Prior to this press conference, based solely on the statement the team released following the NHL’s announcement, the Golden Knights seemed to be strongly backing Schmidt, however, McPhee’s statements today did a lot to separate that support from any accusations of wrongdoing by the team in this situation.
The organization isn’t responsible for (pause)… It didn’t come from us. Everything we have, any supplements, any vitamins are all NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) approved, we know where our food comes from. So there are no issues with respect to the club. So now you are going to say the onus is on him but I can tell you in this process a lot of you can go for a protein shake at a health food store around here and test positive tomorrow. -McPhee
This is a pretty stark contrast to Schmidt’s statement six days ago.
The fact that I’m issuing this statement is surreal to me as I have only used supplements provided by my NHL team and I have always been extremely careful about what I put into my body. -Nate Schmidt
McPhee was pressed further on the discrepancy.
With what we supply in terms of food and supplements and vitamins and in terms of the way we test our players, and I’m certainly not going to give away all the ammunition of how we do things for other clubs, but we do a lot of testing and we do defensible documentation and we are in a good place with that. -McPhee
McPhee also offered a comment about what he told other players on the team, furthering his stance that the substance which caused Schmidt to test positive did not come from the Golden Knights.
GM George McPhee spoke to the media today for the first time since the NHL handed Nate Schmidt a 20 game suspension. He talks about Schmidt, Shea Theodore’s contract, Nikita Gusev’s future, a few rookies and their chances of making the team, and more.
(We apologize for the audio quality, $14 voice recorders are only so good.)
**Subscribe to the SinBin.vegas Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play now to listen to this on your phone.**
GM George McPhee recently made a comment that has many feeling like a trade is imminent.
We’re happy where we are. If there’s an opportunity to upgrade at the forward position at any time over the next year we will. –George McPhee to Las Vegas Sun
But for those hoping he’ll find that forward, or even those still holding out hope for an Erik Karlsson trade, don’t bother until the year begins because August and September mega-trades simply aren’t in McPhee’s nature. Since McPhee started his general managing career in 1997, he’s made six trades from the period of August 15th to opening night. All six transactions were minor with the exception of one.
McPhee did make a deal last year before VGK’s first game, but it wasn’t quite the blockbuster most are hoping for. Calvin Pickard for Tobias Lindberg and a 6th round pick. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)
It’s not just McPhee, plenty of moves are made from now until opening night, but not many are significant. In fact, since 1997 there were 123 trades during that window. Only two could be considered significant. So don’t expect the Golden Knights to pull off a blockbuster trade any time soon.
(See below the article for a complete list of all trades between August 14th and Opening Night)
Could the current climate in Ottawa change the preseason’s transaction activity? Sure, but based on the past 20 season it seems very unlikely. Especially going off of McPhee’s history. In 18 seasons at the helm, the GM only made a handful of moves from the middle of August to opening night, and most were depth additions.
Asking any general manager to pull off a franchise-altering move before October is a tall order. As much as it would make them better, adding Karlsson before the Golden Knights season begins is not likely to happen. However, rumors with Ottawa will be floating all season, so expect McPhee to show interest later in the season.