There’s no sense in continuing to rehash the events of Tuesday’s third period of Game 7. What’s done is done.
If you feel like there’s a wee bit of vindication from the NHL apologizing to the Golden Knights and putting referees Dan O’Halloran and Eric Furlatt on the shelf for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I can’t say I blame you.
For some of you, you’re still pissed off at what took place and no amount of apologizing will change that. I understand that too. If you want to join general manager George McPhee and take the high road, fine.
But as we head to the remainder of spring and into the summer without hockey in Las Vegas, be prepared for the fact the team you love is going to look different come September when training camp opens.
How different? That remains to be seen. But it comes with the territory. No team stands completely pat, even when they win a Stanley Cup. So changes are coming.
McPhee has to get William Karlsson signed, hopefully, long term and at a reasonable price. Deryk Engelland and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare are unrestricted free agents. Both want to remain with the Golden Knights. Together, they made $2.95 million this season. Clearing their salaries could help with Karlsson though.
UFAs Brandon Pirri and Ryan Carpenter are less likely to remain. Tomas Nosek is an RFA but he too could find himself moving on.
Space needs to be created on the roster for Nikita Gusev and perhaps Cody Glass and Nic Hague, maybe Jimmy Schuldt. Erik Haula will be ready to resume his career after the gruesome knee injury he sustained in November.
And who knows what’s going to happen in the NHL Entry Draft in late June where the Golden Knights will pick 16th or 17th overall (depending on Colorado’s second round series). Will GMGM trade to move up? Will he trade down? Will he keep the pick and select someone the amateur scouting staff really covets?
They may lose assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon as well. Both Edmonton and Seattle are reportedly interested in bringing in McCrimmon on board as their general manager. And that piece of the plan may not be so easy to replace were McCrimmon to bolt Vegas though maybe Vaughn Karpan, the team’s director of player personnel, could be elevated into McCrimmon’s spot should he leave.
So believe it when I tell you this roster and opening night lineup figures to look different come October.
Hopefully the rules will be different too. McPhee was kinda lukewarm on the idea of being a proponent for change regarding the referees having the ability to look at replay to determine if a major penalty was committed. Owner Bill Foley had a much more definitive take:
I believe it should be a reviewable play, coaches challenge. I think a coach should be able to challenge in the playoffs. That’s going to be up to the league to make that determination. I believe the league is thinking about it and I think it’s going to be receptive to that kind of change. We will have a Board of Governors meeting here in a couple of months and I’m sure it will be brought up and we will talk about it. I think that will be a good solution, despite the fact the Sharks fans were going crazy over the perceived hit. If it would have been a coach’s challenge, it would have been reviewed and that wouldn’t have been a penalty. -Foley
When I asked GMGM directly about changing the rule, here was his response:
I don’t know how to answer that question. I think that’s for the league to determine, if they want to anything additional. If a five-minute penalty going to be called, should the referees review it to make sure they got it right? Or should they simply just call up to the supervisor upstairs, who has covered the whole series and that have the replays? They can tell the guys I have nothing on this one.
That’s for the league to determine and I haven’t thought it through. I have had a lot of time to think it through the last couple of nights since I haven’t slept, a lot of flashbacks. -McPhee
If I were a betting man on this issue, I’d put my money on Foley. I believe we will see a new policy adopted by the league for next season.