Force Majeure is a very scary phrase for hockey fans. The owners have a legit claim to cancel the season and not pay the players and there's nothing anyone can do about it. Hopefully cooler heads prevail and they play.
It’s clear the NHL is in a financial crunch. Unlike the other major pro sports leagues in North America, hockey is trying to scrounge up coins buried deep in couch cushions. The league and its players need to find ways to grow revenue and it needs to happen soon. Some have suggested the Seattle Kraken organization pay half of their entry fee now to help the league get through tough times. Others have suggested extending the postseason, but there’s one that stuck out as an easy, smart way to make a buck.
If I was a player, I’d be talking about expanded playoffs and ads on jerseys. Bettman has said in the past the number has got to be worth it. Something small in a corner but enough that you know it’s there. No more of this it’s tradition… It’s time. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast
I tend to lean more towards the traditional side of sports. I don’t want robot officials, I can’t stand visiting teams wearing their white sweaters and I hate advertisements on team jerseys. That’s up until now. The 2020-21 season is on the line and whatever the league can do to make it work, needs to happen.
It’s true jersey advertisements break tradition. They can potentially tarnish an already perfect team sweater by making it look cheap and commercialized. Overall it’s bad idea, but in this economy making money is all that counts. Especially if revenue from jersey sponsorships can get this NHL season off the ground. Using the NBA as an example, corporate ads can bring in bags full of cash.
So far, 19 of the 30 NBA teams have teamed up with an advertiser… The Warriors are getting $20 million a year for three years for the Rakuten ad on the upper left chest of their jerseys… –Steven Kutz, MarketWatch
The issue with business sponsorships on jerseys is finding the right fit, for the right cost. Most importantly, how to make sure they don’t become an on-ice eyesore.
Kane took a shot back at Reaves, but later apologized and deleted this tweet.
I ain’t never run from anyone’s sister in my life. Let alone for 9 years. That shark logo on your jersey is the toughest thing about you. I expect a billboard apology for running your mouth. I’m sure u still got the number. 🐸☕️
The addition of Alex Pietrangelo will change everything in how the Golden Knights look on the back end. As opposed to having a more balanced group as they’ve had in the previous three seasons, they’ll come into this one with a much more clear hierarchy, Pietrangelo being at the top.
The most ice time any Vegas defenseman has averaged in a given season was 22:14 which was achieved by both Shea Theodore in 19-20 and Nate Schmidt in 17-18. Pietrangelo hasn’t averaged less than 24:00 in any season since his first full NHL year back in 2010-11 and has crossed 25:00 per game in six seasons.
Pietrangelo’s impact will be most felt on Theodore, who had risen to become the Golden Knights’ best offensive defenseman and TOI leader last year.
In a Q&A on the Golden Knights website, head coach Pete DeBoer was asked about Pietrangelo’s effect on Theodore.
I think Theodore is obviously on everyone’s radar now with how he’s played. He’s one of those guys now that every time you’re playing Vegas you’re going to circle his number on the board and he’s going to get a lot of extra attention. His benefit to Theodore, but also to a lot of other guys, is be able to free them up. –DeBoer to VegasGoldenKnights.com
The first thing I think of when I hear the word insulates from an NHL coach is in relation to competition. As the top offensive defenseman on the roster, Theodore was always going to draw the toughest defensive opponent, but with Pietrangelo here now, that may change.
The day after Thanksgiving is usually reserved for sleeping in, leftovers, unnecessary spending, and the annual NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. This year unfortunately, basketball and football will have to fill your lazy-day sports void. But don’t get down, your gut will bounce back into shape next week and there’s a hint of positivity from the hockey world.
In Garioch’s latest article, the Ottawa scribe wrote about the silence around the league, especially after last week’s COVID breakout surrounding the Golden Knights and other organizations. Normally, things would be heating up. Early season deals are made, coaches are fired, and fanbases are fully engaged. It’s time to forget what could’ve/should’ve been and deal with reality.
It’s got to make sense… If we’re able to play it’s going to be more about player supply and player development this year than anything else. Without fans in the buildings, it’s certainly not going to be about any meaningful revenue. So yes, we’re going to want to know what the NHL is doing before we finalize what our plan is going to be. -Scott Howson, AHL CEO & President
Everyone around the sport understands the NHL needs to act first before minor leagues can make their decision. A lost season would impact a lot of people, including the players. They lose out on salary, statistics, milestones, but most importantly, a year from their careers. Older guys won’t get that season back. A layoff of a year or more allows extra time for prospects to develop, mature, and steal jobs. In other words, they do not want to skip a season.
It’s understandable why the owners are hesitant to start a season without a packed house of screaming fans. They’re losing money by the day, but owners also understand that a cancelled season could damage them more.
According to several sources, a few owners have suggested to Bettman that the league might be better off financially if it shuts down next season, since playing in empty arenas could be crippling to the bottom line. The NHL is still very much a gate-driven league in comparison to a league like the NFL, which draws most of its revenue from media rights. Bettman responded that the NHL can’t lose a season because it’s too damaging in the long term, as the league has learned before in lockout seasons. –Report by Emily Kaplan & Greg Wyshynski, ESPN
Each side will need to come to an agreement, take their financial lumps, and create some type of a shortened regular season. If it’s a February target, the league will need to decide how the 2020-21 season will play out relatively soon.
The landscape is — there’s a lot of unknowns associated with where we’re going in the immediate future…Hopefully things, with all the positive news associated with vaccines and a hopeful climate that could potentially exist that we get back on track. But we have some ground to cover. -Don Sweeney, Bruins GM to Associated Press
Everything we hear or read from around the league tends to be positive, giving fans reasons to believe that their favorite players will suit up and eventually play a 2020-21 season.
What starts with me is: Let’s get the season started… I’m up for however it looks. Whatever the league and the PA think is the best way to get us back playing, whether it’s with fans, some fans, no fans, TV being (more) relevant, if you will. Whatever it takes to get this season going and get it in place. -David Poile, Predators GM to Associated Press
Normally, when a season doesn’t begin on time it’s due to some bitter work stoppage. Players, GMs, and owners are on opposite sides with little motivation to give in, but this is a unique situation. The comments from various league general managers give a sense that collectively the NHL is placing its product and their fans first.
The league and the players discussed this week and there is something on the table that if we can start on time this is what it’s going to be. It’s going to be a 60 game season, in your own arenas, MLB style schedule like back-to-backs in your own building, and an all-Canadian division. –Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet
It may not seem like it but there is real anticipation around the league. Certain GMs are being vocal now, spreading the word to fans and to the players. Since the players union and league office are ghosting each other a bit, it’s good that Poile, Sweeney, and others are giving us hope with their optimism. I think they speak for most NHL managers out there, and they help represent one side of the coin. Hopefully, things can quickly develop from there.
As fans, positive thinking is all we can do at this point, and pound down another turkey sandwich.
It’s no secret Alex Pietrangelo is an elite defenseman in the NHL. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been the captain of a Stanley Cup champion, he wouldn’t have received Norris Trophy votes in seven different seasons, and he definitely wouldn’t have signed a $62 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.
But what is it that makes him special and worthy of garnering the title of highest-paid player in Golden Knights history? Well, I dug into the film to figure it out.
It starts with what he does in the defensive zone. He’s about as sound of a blueliner as you will find in the entire NHL. I’d make a highlight tape, but it would be about as exhilarating as watching paint dry, so I’ll spare you.
But that’s not what really sets him apart. There are plenty of lockdown d-men in the league and none get paid the way Pietrangelo now does.
Where he really separates himself from most is the way he reads the game offensively. He’s absolutely elite at becoming a part of the offense as a defenseman. Whether that means activating off the blue line, replacing the forward on a cycle play, or joining the rush, Pietrangelo does it all at an incredibly high level.
This makes him unbelievably challenging to defend against and should have VGK fans drooling about what they are going to see when the games finally get back underway.
Let me illustrate.
This is likely a set play off the faceoff, but it’s a play that very few players in the NHL can make. Pietrangelo sees the draw is won and the puck heading to the half wall. So, he activates off the blue line towards the goal. Watch the path he takes though. He wants to head directly to the back post and catch the feed across, but there’s a bit of traffic in front, so when he hits the faceoff dot, he alters his route slightly towards the slot, with his stick on the ice the entire time presenting himself for the pass. Then, he gets it, receives it perfectly, and pulls off a dazzling inside-out move that embarrasses both a defenseman and the goalie. Mesmerizing.
Next, here he is replacing a forward who is heading towards the blue line.
Over the course of the last month, the NHL has been releasing lists of the top players in the game. They broke it down into four position groups and ranked the best players in each; 20 at center, wing, and defense and 10 goalies. (See each list below)
The Golden Knights were represented in three lists by five players including Robin Lehner (G8), Mark Stone (W10), Max Pacioretty (W15), Shea Theodore (D14), and newcomer Alex Pietrangelo (D4).
Vegas was also the only team in the NHL to have multiple players listed at more than one position with a pair of wings and defensemen.
To take a look at exactly how the Golden Knights stacked up against the rest of the league, I created the “Star-Power Rankings” using the NHL’s lists. The best player in each position group earned 20 points, 2nd place got 19, and so on. Goalies only had 10 players listed so they were scored 20, 18, 16, etc.
As the Golden Knights roster continues to churn, the balance of importance on that roster changes with it. Many guys who were once the most vital on the team are no longer here and other stars have stepped into their places.
So, when discussing which players are the most indispensable for the Golden Knights this season, the exercise is not as simple as it would seem. The great Kevin Iole, Jason, and I had a discussion about this very topic and realized the options are so plentiful that we had to bring it to the site. We each picked three and between us we came up with six different players.
3rd Most Indispensable Kevin – Cody Glass Jason – Robin Lehner Ken – Mark Stone
Kevin – The 2017 NHL Entry Draft was loaded at the top. Nico Hischier, Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar and Elias Pettersson are already elite NHL players. The Golden Knights’ thought Glass would be a player of that caliber and jumped on him when he was available at No. 6.
Now, Paul Stastny has been traded and they need someone to plug into that second line. The best way it could work out for the Golden Knights is if Glass could finally live up to his draft status. He showed glimpses last year, but wasn’t able to stay healthy and went long stretches while doing little.
If he comes up big and the Golden Knights can put Chandler Stephenson on a third line with Alex Tuch and Nic Roy, they can create a huge match-up problem with the third line while have two very strong top lines.
If Glass struggles, Stephenson moves up to center one of the top two and the third line suddenly isn’t as much of a scoring threat. Glass’ success will tell much about the kind of season the VGK will having in 2021.
Jason – Is this a trick question? Of course, it’s Lehner, without him the Golden Knights don’t have a goaltender. Sure, they have two now but by the time the season begins Fleury will be gone, leaving Lehner as the only starting goaltender in Vegas. I understand we were told by the Golden Knights that the plan on keeping both goalies but I don’t see that happening. In a shortened season, a condensed schedule may require a sturdy backup but how many nights do they plan on sitting Lehner? 10-15 games? The 29-year-old has started more than 34 games in the last four seasons, so it doesn’t make sense to relieve him with an expensive backup like Fleury?
Both sides have said the right thing over the past few months but in reality, keeping both isn’t good business. If the Golden Knights are seriously trying to win the Stanley Cup it won’t be by spending $12M in net. They’re too smart for that. And with that, Robin Lehner’s presence in the VGK lineup is paramount.
Ken – I originally had Lehner, for all the reasons Jason spelled out, plus the fact that losing him for any amount of time would further the lunacy of keeping them both. But, while both goalies are on the roster, I just couldn’t bring myself to rank Lehner above Mark Stone.
Stone has been the engine of the team since the moment he got here at the deadline in 2018-19. When he’s scoring or helping others score, the Golden Knights are basically unbeatable. Think back to the Sharks series. He drops 10 points in the first four games and VGK leads 3-1. Goes silent in Games 5 and 6 and they lose them both. (He had two points in Game 7, which still remains a win in my book.)
Yes, the Golden Knights have replacements, but no one can do what he can do. The season isn’t over if they lose Stone, but you can forget about winning the Cup if he’s not out there and dominating.