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Vegas Bubble: Take Two?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The possibilities are endless. Start date, season length, realignment, you name it, the NHL is considering it for the 2020-21 season.

One such possibility, mainly due to travel restrictions, is a return to the bubble. But, this time, the league would have more than two.

The Athletic’s Michael Russo recently penned a terrific story including quotes from Bill Daly on the NHL’s plan for the upcoming season. In it, he included the idea of four regional “hubs” that would serve as central locations for each division.

Like Toronto and Edmonton, the NHL would probably “own and operate” the hotels and there will be some level of testing, but they’re not going to fence off the arena, hotels and restaurants. The league will do its best to control the environment, but players and staff should have more freedom (like going to dinner). -Michael Russo, The Athletic

Now, before you throw your hands up and scream bubble related profanities, know that these bubbles would likely include stadiums open to fans to watch.

The World Series, currently being played in Arlington, Texas, is the perfect example. Major League Baseball set up bubbles for the playoffs and now that we’ve reached the finale, they’ve actually invited fans in to watch the biggest games of the year.

The NHL could very well do the same and in fact, if they do it properly, teams could travel between bubbles a few times over the course of the year to allow more widespread competition.

Of course, Las Vegas is atop the list of potential regional bubble cities and will only become a stronger option with Lifeguard Arena opening and The Orleans laying ice for the AHL.

If it happens, it could mean up to eight teams in Vegas with multiple games daily at T-Mobile Arena, all of which are open to a limited number of fans. Sure, it’ll still be tough to be one of the 6,000 people that get to see the Golden Knights, but for any hockey fan, tickets would probably be easily available for all of the other games.

A hockey buffet for months on end on the Strip? Sign me up.

NHL Owners Are Prepared For 48-Game Season

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

While GM’s across the league convened via Zoom, NHL owners continued to stew about lost revenue. Any time money is the main topic, fans should be worried.

They don’t have any idea at this point what the specifics are, other than they’re still hopeful for early January. There are some who are starting to think that’s a stretch for the start of the 2020-21 season. That will be the target Commissioner Bettman continues to be focused on. -Darren Dreger, TSN Vancouver

Speculation from numerous hockey reporters has suggested the NHL is working on either a 60-game or 48-game season. However, it’s a work in progress as the league and owners aren’t necessarily on the same page.

Commissioner Gary Bettman would love to see a 60-game series to maximize revenue and provide as much content to the league’s television partners. The owners on the other hand are extremely worried about generating income, especially if they can’t sell tickets to attending fans.

The owners are worried about the economics. Before the NHL drops puck on 2020-21, I’m pretty sure Commissioner Bettman is going to present ownership with two or three scenarios. Specific again to the dollars. ‘Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we don’t play, at all. Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we play without fans. Here’s how much we’re going to lose if we wait until we can plug a percentage of fans in the building.’.. What we know is, we’re going to have to deal with it in every sense for the foreseeable future.-Dreger, TSN Vancouver

With the operating costs of arenas and practice facilities on top of player salaries, it’s a serious concern for most NHL owners. If they can’t make a buck without fans in their buildings, owners prefer a shorter season to cut back on wasted expenses.

I keep hearing from ownership side that they’re a little more adamant about February 1st. There appears to be two sides of start dates, Jan. 1 and Feb. 1. Maybe by March 15th, we can put six thousand people in your building. The owners will be saying I’d rather have to wait six weeks for that rather than ten weeks. Why don’t we just push back a month. There are enough teams that are thinking that they would like to push back a month.-John Shannon, TSN Vancouver

Beyond agreeing on start date for the 2020-21 season, the league will be under pressure to wrap up and award the Stanley Cup by early to mid-July. In the United States, NBC has exclusive rights to the NHL and the Olympics. The latter is a real money-maker for the network. The NHL has essentially been told that when the Tokyo Olympics begin the league won’t have a network to air their games.

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Henderson Silver Knights Practice Facility, Lifeguard Arena, Soft Opens (Plus Construction Photos For AHL Arena)

Despite the uncertainty of the upcoming AHL season, the Henderson Silver Knights practice facility is right on track and has actually opened in a limited capacity.

Recently a fan of the site and a father of a youth hockey player in Henderson was inside the facility and shared a bunch of pictures with us. Here they are.

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SinBin.vegas Podcast #210: Fragile?

We chat about the Golden Knights newest jerseys as well as take a look at how the offseason may challenge the locker room this season. Hosted by Ken Boehlke and Jason Pothier.

  • Reverse Retro!
  • Shortened season could be tricky on VGK
  • When will they actually play again?
  • Going to a game in the COVID era

And much more…

We are on iTunesStitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. Subscribe now!

First Look: Vegas Golden Knights “Reverse Retro” 4th Jersey

The Golden Knights made quite the splash this offseason with the release of their much anticipated third jersey. The third jersey became the first metallic gold jersey in professional sports history.

But, the jersey releases for next season aren’t done yet!

The NHL is introducing a new “Reverse Retro” jersey line that will be unveiled for all 31 teams sometime before the beginning of next season. A few have already leaked out and we’re now able to share the exact design of the Golden Knights version.

Through a source close to the design of the jersey we were able to get a long look at the design and have recreated it to show it off before it’s released for sale.

The jersey is mostly red with the Golden Knights’ secondary logo, the sword star, across the chest. The primary logo is on each shoulder. The jersey numbers, both on the back and the sleeves, are mainly white with a gold and black border. The nameplate is red with white letters. The design includes a “V” shaped pattern of grey, gold, and black at the bottom of the jersey. Those same colors are along the sleeves. The collar is mostly gold with a black border.

Without further ado, here it is…

The “retro” in reverse retro is a nod towards the Las Vegas Thunder. The Thunder had various versions of the “V” pattern at the bottom of their jerseys during their six seasons in the International Hockey League. (Examples – 1, 2, 3, 4)

Per Icethetics.com, the jerseys are expected to be worn in games.

My understanding of these Reverse Retro jerseys is that each team will have one and they will be worn only once or twice per season—and likely between certain rivals. In other words, these Flyers and Penguins jerseys were designed to contrast so they could be worn opposing each other in the same game. –Chris Smith, Icethetics.com

The jerseys are expected to be available in both Adidas and Fanatics versions like all other VGK game jerseys.

These jerseys are also similar to ones worn by the 2000-06 Calgary Flames. (Examples – 1, 2, 3, 4)

Though we still have no idea how many games the Golden Knights are expected to play in the 2020-21 season, we now know for sure how many jerseys they’ll wear during the year and that number is four.

**Stick tap to our guy Drew Goldfarb for working with us to re-create the design.”

High-End Players Hit The Market Much More Than Suggested

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

We’ve heard it a lot from the Golden Knights front office, and we hear it pretty much any time any team ends up with a new high-end player.

We had what we believe was an incredibly rare opportunity to add a defenseman, an elite player like Alex to our team. We really viewed it as a similar situation to the opportunity to acquire Mark Stone. Generally these are players that don’t hit the market and we were fortunate to make a trade for Mark Stone and sign a contract with Alex as a free agent. -Kelly McCrimmon

A rare opportunity. These guys don’t come around often. Have to take advantage of it.

It sounds great and there’s no debating that adding Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo to a team is an awesome thing to do. But, is it really that rare?

Just in the three years in which the Golden Knights have been a franchise, they’ve been tied to and eventually got Stone and Pietrangelo, and along the way, they were linked to Erik Karlsson, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, and Steven Stamkos.

Around the league, just in the past five seasons, four players who finished in the top five in Hart voting have changed teams. A Vezina winner, a Selke winner, and six more guys who have finished in the top five votings in either of those awards.

In all, just since the offseason of 2016, I count 17 high-end players that have switched teams, or about three to four per offseason. (That’s counting each guy just once despite some moving multiple times.)

I’m talking about names like Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan O’Reilly, Erik Karlsson, and John Tavares.

If you want to dig a bit deeper, in the All Star Games between 2016 and 2018, at least 11 players are currently on different teams including an incredible 17 of the 44 players in the 2016 game.

Again, no one is criticizing the will to add high-end players like Alex Pietrangelo and Mark Stone. But if the main reason for doing it is because these opportunities don’t come around often, history suggests otherwise.

Guest Post: VGK Upgraded, But Enough?

Today’s Guest Post comes from Kevin Iole. Kevin is a columnist for Yahoo Sports. He was a sportswriter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 1990 until 2007. He covered the Las Vegas Thunder for the entirety of the team’s run in Las Vegas, and did a little bit of work covering the Las Vegas Wranglers. A lifelong hockey fan whose favorite players were Eddie Shack, Battleship Kelly, Steve Durbano, and Gary Rissling before Mario Lemieux came along, Iole was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He was a diehard Penguins fan and a season ticket holder for about 10 seasons. He is a Vegas Golden Knights and Henderson Silver Knights season ticket holder along with his wife, Betsy. He became a Golden Knights fan early in the inaugural season and counts the Knights as his No. 1 team witih the Penguins No. 2. His ideal outcome would be the Knights winning the Cup 4-3 over the Penguins every year. Other than hockey, Iole loves Basset Hounds and owns about 40 VGK jerseys, many of which need new nameplates. 

For a franchise whose motto ought to be, “Stanley Cup or bust,” the Golden Knights only got marginally better this offseason.

Sure, the defense is better after essentially swapping Nate Schmidt for Alex Pietrangelo, as well as continued growth from Zach Whitecloud. This, though, is a team that lost in five games in the Western Conference finals and the only change in its forward lineup will be that its No. 2 center will be replaced by an injury prone and unproven 21-year-old.

But the forwards are worse and the goalies are the same, so will the difference from Schmidt to Pietrangelo mean that the Stanley Cup will be toted down Las Vegas Blvd in 2021?

Hardly.

Oh, I like the Knights’ chances of having a parade better than the Sabres or the Senators, and probably even better than the Penguins, Devils and Coyotes.

So much could go so wrong for this team.

It starts with William Karlsson, the only true elite (or close to elite) center on the roster. If he gets hurt and is out for any length of time, it’s a disaster of epic proportions.

The Golden Knights’ depth at center is nonexistent, and it could withstand a Pietrangelo absence far more than it could a prolonged Karlsson absence.

Peyton Krebs is a promising prospect, but relying on a 19-year-old in one of the most important spots on the team — and a 19-year-old who is less than two years removed from tearing his Achilles tendon, remember — is not the stuff of which Stanley Cup champions are made.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If Chandler Stephenson regresses and plays next season like he did in the first half of the season with Washington rather than the way he did after he was traded to the Golden Knights, it will seriously imperil their Cup chances.

I could go on and on, but you get the point.

This team is close, though, and it has the ability to make a move that could, in fact, make it the Cup favorite. It won’t be popular, of course, but Kelly McCrimmon already told us that the popular moves aren’t always the wisest moves. But the path the Knights should take, and I’d argue must take, is clear:

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VGK Heading For Similar Offseason To Deadline Path

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

There’s still plenty of time for things to change, but at the moment the Golden Knights appear set to head into the 2020-21 season with a similar mindset as they did in 2019-20.

At the deadline of Year 2 the Golden Knights acquired Mark Stone and agreed to an enormous contract extension that was set to kick in the following season. Thus, in the offseason, they were forced to shed some salary in order to return to cap compliance. They did it by trading Erik Haula, Colin Miller, and Nikita Gusev and the only tangible piece they got in return was Nic Roy. Then, at the deadline, they packaged all of the draft picks they received a in the offseason to make splash trades bringing in Robin Lehner, Alec Martinez, and Nick Cousins. The idea was to use the players that needed to be sent out in the offseason to create capital that could be spent in a more effective way at the deadline.

This year, the Golden Knights may end up going down a similar path. As was the case with Cody Eakin last year, the clear player to move to create cap space this offseason was (and still is) Marc-Andre Fleury. Vegas signed Lehner to a long-term deal relegating Fleury to the bench and making his $7 million cap hit a burden. But, instead of making that move, Kelly McCrimmon and George McPhee opted to trade Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt instead. The return was a pair of mid-round draft picks, which can once again be used as capital to make more moves at the deadline.

The trouble is, this year the piece that must move out to clear cap space at the deadline will be much trickier to move than the one last year. Cody Eakin’s $3.85 million was clearly expendable in the offseason and if Vegas wanted to do anything significant they needed to move it at the deadline. They found a suitor in Winnipeg and turned it into a 4th round pick. That paved the way to use the picks from Haula, Miller, and Gusev to add a forward, defenseman, and a goalie.

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What An All Canadian Division Would Mean For The Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

No one knows when the 2020-21 season is going to get underway nor does anyone have any idea what exactly it will look like when it finally does.

Recently, there’s been a growing sense that one potential option the league may be forced to take is to re-align the divisions to keep all Canadian teams together. In fact, The Creator mentioned it as an option he expects to happen in a recent interview on Vegas Hockey Hotline with Brian Blessing.

I don’t think that border is going to be open on January 1st. I think they are going to play a Canadian division. -The Creator

Major League Baseball faced this problem as the Toronto Blue Jays were not granted access to fly back and forth across the border to play games. Instead, they had to play all of their games in Buffalo.

So, if that were to be the case, where does that leave Vegas with three teams suddenly out of the division. Here’s the most logical option the league could be left with.

Canadian Division
Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg

West Division
Arizona, Anaheim, Colorado, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas

Central Division
Chicago, Carolina, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Minnesota, Nashville, Tampa Bay

East Division
Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington

This is certainly not perfect for Vegas, but it’s not terrible. They still remain in a division with the three California teams and they no longer would have to take the tough trip up to Alberta (Edmonton and Calgary). But, adding Colorado, Dallas, and  St. Louis is definitely tricky.

The league certainly could shuffle a few things around including possibly seeing Chicago or Nashville instead of St. Louis in Vegas’ division.

Winning a division with Colorado in it will be much tougher for Vegas than without. Nonetheless, no matter how it shakes out the Golden Knights should be in a prime position to once again reach the postseason.

@SinBinVegas Twitter Q&A – October 15th, 2020

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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