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Author: Steve Carp Page 2 of 10

Carp: Keep Cody Glass In The Lineup

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

You didn’t think they were going 56-0, did you?

The Golden Knights have their warts, just like the other 30 NHL teams. Sometimes they are camouflaged, sometimes they’re on full display.

Such was the case Friday in Glendale where the Knights continue to get caught in odd-man rushes, fail to account for themselves in their own end, and remain dismal when having a man advantage. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise they lost to the Arizona Coyotes, 5-2.

I’ve not been a fan of playing five defensemen and I’d like to think management will do something to address the team’s salary cap situation sooner than later instead of waiting until someone has to go on LTIR. However, I’m glad Cody Glass is in the lineup. It’s time, once and for all, to see if he can be an impact player at the NHL level.

Glass scored Friday and in nearly 15 minutes of ice time, he posted a productive stat line, not the least of which was going 8-2 on faceoffs. He said afterward he has worked hard on improving at the dot and working in the corners. Both were on display in the loss.

We see glimpses of this in Glass’ game. He can produce given the right opportunity and matched with productive wingers. Alex Tuch certainly fits that bill. Many think Tuch is a top-six forward and while he’s currently a third-liner, that doesn’t mean he can’t remain productive. Tuch has been getting to the front of the net with more regularity and if he and Glass along with Nicolas Roy can bolster their puck possession time, the Keegan Kolesar experiment may be nothing but a distant memory.

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Carp: It’s More Than Just About The Bottom Line

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

As everyone goes about their business this Sunday, you do so knowing your favorite team is 2-0-0 and in first place.

On the surface, that’s great. And pragmatically speaking, the Golden Knights’ start is what everyone was hoping for. You’re at home, playing a team that is offensively challenged and is in rebuild mode and you’re supposedly stronger than you finished last season in terms of your own roster.

So why did Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win over Anaheim feel so uncomfortable?

There’s a number of factors, not the least of which we’re seeing early in this weird NHL season that there’s going to be a lot of pushback from the team which loses the first of these back-to-back games on the schedule. Look around the league and that was the case virtually everywhere. Only the Knights, Washington, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Philadelphia swept their opponent in the B2B scenario. And for good portions of Saturday, it looked like a split was going to happen at the Fortress, which definitely feels weird without 18,000 fans inside it. The Ducks had survived a 1st period onslaught by the Knights, who were debuting their snazzy gold jerseys, to keep the game 0-0 and went ahead off a 3-on-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the second stanza.

Then they clamped down defensively, clogging the neutral zone and not allowing the Knights to freewheel out of their own end. And had it not been for some great goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury, the outcome could have been far different. But the veteran and future Hall of Famer looked sharp and kept his team in it until William Karlsson could tie it with 1:22 remaining after the Knights pulled the goalie, and Max Pacioretty would win it seven seconds into overtime.

It was far from a stellar team effort. Yet in his postgame Zoom conference with reporters, Peter DeBoer said he thought his team’s overall performance exceeded Thursday’s, which was a 5-2 win.

Say what?

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Carp: It’s Good To Be Back!

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2021 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

I missed you folks.

When the NHL season paused last March, my column for SinBin also went on hiatus. But unlike the league, which resumed play in July, I remained sidelined. I felt like Drew Doughty. Or Jack Eichel.

But thanks to Ken, Jason, and especially Las Vegas attorney Jim Jimmerson, who is sponsoring this column once again, it’s back to work for what will be a most fascinating season. And it starts tonight at T-Mobile Arena where no fans will be admitted inside to watch the Golden Knights host Anaheim.

Fifty-six games. A restructured and renamed division. A captain for the first time. Arguably the best goaltending tandem in the league. New faces on the scene. Old ones having departed. All sorts of strange scenarios playing out.

That’s what we have to look forward to over the coming months. Interesting? Hell yes. Unpredictable? Absolutely. Frustrating at times? Count on it.

Welcome to the 2021 season.

For me, the Golden Knights are built to make the playoffs and make a long run, similar to the Edmonton bubble as they advanced to the Western Conference Final. Are they good enough to play for and win the Stanley Cup the way they’re currently constructed? Perhaps. But I have some concerns.

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Carp: A Hockey Season Without Spectators?

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Let me give you a scenario and see if you could live with it.

The NHL decides it is safe for its players to resume playing, but not necessarily O.K. for fans to enter arenas to watch. Instead, the league opts to essentially turn their sport into a television studio event, like a soap opera.

You can watch, but there’s no studio audience as would be the case with, say, a game show. You can’t come inside. You can’t interact with the players. No signs asking for pucks. No dancing for the video board above center ice. No music to groove to.

How about this? The NHL hosts regional playoffs at neutral site cities. The Eastern Conference’s first and second rounds are played in Ottawa, the Western Conference plays in Minneapolis-St. Paul. But you still wouldn’t be able to attend.

Would you take either of those options? Or would you insist that no hockey be played until everyone could once again partake of the entire experience and be allowed inside their home team’s building?

I know what my answer would be. Give me the studio version of the NHL, including the playoffs. As long as every team’s game is shown for free in some fashion, I’m in.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly gave a frank assessment of the situation the other day when he told NHL.com the league is monitoring the coronavirus situation on a daily basis with medical and health officials and it will not resume the season until it is safe for the players, coaches, and officials to participate. Even the medical and science experts can’t predict when things will take a turn for the better.

Social distancing doesn’t exist on the ice. Players are engaged in a contact sport. This isn’t like a Public Service Announcement I saw the other day in which New York Rangers legend and Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert told New Yorkers to keep a hockey stick’s length from each other as a way to properly socially distance themselves from each other. Frankly, I thought Gilbert should have borrowed Zdeno Chara’s stick for the PSA. It would have been a more effective visual.

Nonetheless, that’s not realistic in any kind of hockey game. Even a group of Mites playing are going to make contact with each other. So the NHL is absolutely right to make sure it’s safe for the players to compete against each other before it resumes its season.

The fans are a different story. You can play hockey games without people in the stands. And that’s why the NHL might want to rethink the idea of going right back into its arenas while the coronavirus is impacting the country.

Thursday, radio host Brian Blessing and I talked on his show Vegas Hockey Hotline about the idea of playing games in practice facilities until it’s safe to let people inside the arenas. Many teams have very nice places to practice, with the Golden Knights’ City National Arena arguably the NHL’s best. There are places to set up television cameras, the Knights already have their locker room. The visiting team’s quarters could be UNLV’s locker room. It would be spartan by NHL standards but when the Knights went to the other team’s place, they would deal with it too.

As for the rink itself, it reminds me of the scene in the movie Hoosiers when Gene Hackman took out the tape measure at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and told his team, “You’ll find these are the exact same measurements as our gym back home.” The ice at CNA is the exact same size as T-Mobile Arena — 200 by 85 feet. And if it means playing in July, the quality of the ice stands a better chance of holding up in a smaller building with fewer people inside it.

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Carp: Ready For The Future

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

At some point, the hockey world will return to normal. When that point will be, nobody can say with any certainty as the coronavirus pandemic maintains its grip on the world.

But that time is coming, and when it does, it means charting a course for the future. We’re talking entry draft. We’re talking free agency. We’re talking salary cap. We’re talking scouting plans for 2020-21, both pro and amateur.

Right now, everything is at a standstill. There’s no junior hockey being played. There’s no minor league hockey. There’s no college hockey. There’s no KHL, and most of the other European professional leagues have either finished or canceled the remainder of their seasons.

The Golden Knights are no different from the other 30 NHL teams. They can’t travel which is fine because there’s nothing to travel to. They are going to have to rely on the work their hockey ops and scouting staffs have been doing since last August.

The good news? They have more time to analyze the information they have gleaned. There’s no rush to make a hard decision on a player. The majority of their work is already completed.

The NHL has not decided whether to delay the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. In all likelihood, the draft will get pushed back. How long? Again, that remains to be seen.

But George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon have an opportunity to use the data at their disposal to really hone in on a particular player and see what the pros and cons are. Scouts can go through their reports, rewatch video of a player and either confirm their analysis or perhaps alter a couple of things.

McCrimmon is up at his cottage in Manitoba and he remains in communication with McPhee along with his hockey staff.

The bottom line is the Golden Knights should be better prepared for the 2020 draft than they were for the first three they participated in. McCrimmon said Saturday the work continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amateur scouting staff is an obvious area where we’d be the most impacted. We’d normally be getting our final readings on most players in competitive settings. But I think we’ll prepare very well. Our guys have been all over the world doing their work and we’re prepared. It’s hard to speculate. First, the world has to get healthy. We don’t know how the dates will fall in line. -McCrimmon

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Carp: Coronavirus Potentially Puts NHL Season On The Brink

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

I got a chill Saturday morning, and not just because I was up in Reno.

The NHL is considering closing its locker rooms to the media because of the coronavirus and it hit me like a hard slap in the face. It made me wonder if more extreme measures are coming, like putting the current season on hold, or worse, canceling the rest of the year.

On the surface, closing the room to the media seems like an extreme move. Those conversations between players and reporters are important to the game. It helps connect the fans to hockey.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But when you think about it, it’s about player safety. Granted, you would like to think that those of us who cover the league would be smart enough to stay out of the locker room if we’re under the weather. But when you have pressure from editors to get stories and you’re facing stiff competition on the beat, you usually put your health second and forge ahead.

That’s obviously not the smart thing to do but that’s the way it usually works. It’s the competitive nature of the journalism business.

Frankly, if I was a player, I probably wouldn’t want a TV guy with the flu next to me. And nobody knows who has or doesn’t have the coronavirus since you can’t get tested because there aren’t enough kits available and there’s no vaccine to immunize you from it. You may have it and not even know it. Or you could be sick as a dog with similar symptoms and not have the coronavirus and it could be just a regular bout of flu.

The NHL can’t roll the dice when it comes to the unknown. It has to protect its investment, which is the players and the game itself. But I’m not sure a “mixed zone” environment where reporters and athletes are separated by a rope in conducting postgame business would be any safer. Your proximity to the athlete is virtually the same as if you were inside the locker room gathered at his stall.

Some teams have instituted a closed room policy. Others are having a wait-and-see attitude. I imagine the NHL will have a blanket policy in place regarding locker room access, perhaps as early as today.

But make no mistake about it, it’s going to impact how teams are covered, how news is reported and what you read here at SinBin. Ken and Jason are daily visitors to City National Arena, me, a little less frequently. The amazing work they and the rest of the media group which covers the Golden Knights do will be hampered by this edict.

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Carp: Whitecloud Makes His Presence Felt On Blue Line

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

I remember when the Golden Knights signed Zach Whitecloud out of college two years ago. He was an NCAA free agent, having played at Bemidji State, Brad Hunt’s alma mater.

I met him for the first time in Buffalo where he had joined the team after signing. My thoughts at the time were: “O.K., no big deal. Seems to be a nice kid. Maybe down the road he helps their defensive depth. And it didn’t cost the team anything but money.”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

He actually got to play in an NHL game in 2018, against Edmonton late in the season. The Knights were on their way to the playoffs. They had clinched the Pacific Division. Gerard Gallant was looking to rest some guys with the postseason set to begin the following week. What harm could it do to give Whitecloud a taste of the big time?

Boy, have things changed since then.

Whitecloud has become a mainstay on the blue line. He’s playing well. Gallant is no longer his coach. Peter DeBoer is now calling the shots.

Back in 2018, the team’s D-corps consisted of Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Jon Merrill, Luca Sbisa, Hunt and Jason Garrison. Today, Schmidt, Theodore and McNabb are still regulars, Engelland and Merrill can’t crack DeBoer’s lineup, Hunt’s in Minnesota, Miller’s in Buffalo, Sbisa’s in Winnipeg and Garrison plays in Sweden.

He also has beaten out fellow rookies Nic Hague, Dylan Coghlan, Jimmy Schuldt, and Jake Bischoff for a spot on the Knights’ roster.

Whitecloud has been in the VGK lineup since Feb. 1 and it looks like he’s not going anywhere. He picked up his first NHL point in Friday’s 4-2 win over the Sabres and he appears to be comfortable competing at this level.

You can chalk it up to one of those slick George McPhee moves where he got one over on his GM colleagues around the league. A small investment appears to be paying big dividends.

It’s all about keeping it simple, paying attention to detail and doing my job every night. Work hard in practice and learn from my mistakes. -Whitecloud

DeBoer has him with Nick Holden as the third D-pair and having a veteran like Holden certain helps. Whitecloud has also played with the recently acquired Alec Martinez, another veteran.

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Carp: A Little More Work To Do

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

The NHL trade deadline is 24 hours away and the first-place Golden Knights have put themselves in position to do something major to upgrade their roster. Whether they do or don’t remains to be seen but if we’ve learned anything from watching George McPhee operate, it’s that he’s not afraid to go big.

Sometimes it works, as it did with Mark Stone. Sometimes, it doesn’t when he was unable to pry Erik Karlsson from the Senators two years ago and wound up overpaying for Tomas Tatar at the last minute.

So far, the Knights have made three deals this season. They acquired Chandler Stephenson from Washington in early December for a fifth-round pick in 2021. Wednesday, they sent two second-rounders to Los Angeles to get defenseman Alec Martinez from the Kings. Friday, they moved Cody Eakin and his $3.85 million salary to Winnipeg for a conditional fourth-round selection in 2021.

Stephenson has been terrific. Martinez had a storybook start in his VGK debut Thursday with a goal and an assist in the win over Tampa Bay and with Eakin gone, it opens the door for another move while at the same time it is giving one of the younger players in the organization a chance to show what he can do. Saturday, that was Gage Quinney (more on him shortly).

Moving Eakin was a no-brainer. He was having a tough season and those who played with him also appeared to struggle if you want to believe the analytics. He was a pending UFA and it was unlikely the Knights were going to re-sign him. So to get something back, potentially a third-rounder, for him, was pretty good on Vegas’ part.

But the big thing was getting that $3.85 million off the books. For a team that was cash-strapped in terms of cap maneuverability, the Knights suddenly found themselves relatively flush. Now if they want to pull off something big, they may be able to do so though they may still have to be a bit creative if they want to land a really big fish, one that makes them a true Stanley Cup contender.

So what should they do?

The Erik Gustafsson rumors have heated up the last 24 hours after Gustafsson was held out of Chicago’s game with Nashville Friday. He makes $1.2 million and is a pending UFA so he would essentially be a rental. And while the Knights’ philosophy is to not engage in rentals, they might be willing to make an exception in Gustafsson’s case. He would likely come cheap and if Vegas wants to retain him long-term, he’s only 27 years old. He could essentially replace Deryk Engelland dollar-for-dollar if the 37-year-old Engelland, also a UFA, is not brought back. He’s a left-handed shot and as Ken pointed out Saturday, the Knights have a glut of those on the blue line.

Another option could be Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, another pending UFA whose price tag is considerably higher — $5.5 million (though half is retained by Colorado in a prior trade) — than Gustafsson’s. Barrie is a right-handed shot and he has proven track record of offensive capabilities. His final two years with Colorado, he had 14 goals each season and 57 and 59 points respectively. He might fit Peter DeBoer’s system nicely.

The question with Barrie is the ask-back from Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas. Could the price be too high?

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Carp: 40 Years Later, The Miracle Still Resonates

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Reunions can be a joyous occasion.

Every year around this time, anniversary stories get written about arguably the greatest upset in the history of sports. The “Miracle On Ice” at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. should be at the top, or near the top of every sports fan’s list.

USA 4, USSR 3.

This coming Saturday, they’ll be celebrating the 40th anniversary of the event in, of all places, Las Vegas. Virtually all of the surviving members of the “Miracle” team will be at the Thomas & Mack Center during the afternoon where they’ll relive the events and no doubt stoke the patriotic embers inside every person who attends.

Later that day, they’ll be honored at the Golden Knights game against Florida at T-Mobile Arena. And you know the U-S-A! chants will be deafening.

They did something similar five years ago and like then, the players who attend the Las Vegas event are being well-paid to do so. Frankly, I don’t have a problem with that. If they can continue to cash in on their celebrity 40 years later, more power to them. And if you choose to support this with ticket purchases, jersey sales and other memorabilia that will be peddled, I’m fine with that as well. Have at it.

These guys weren’t really able to financially capitalize on their accomplishments back in 1980. Of the 20 guys who were on the top of the podium at Lake Placid, 13 went on to play in the NHL, the best being defenseman Ken Morrow, who won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders and was George McPhee’s college teammate at Bowling Green prior to playing on the blue line for Herb Brooks.

Together, this group shocked the world and Americans who didn’t know a blue line from a red line, suddenly became hockey aficionados.

You can argue about Buster Douglas knocking out Mike Tyson in 1990 in Tokyo being the bigger upset. You could try to make a case for the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colts in 1969 in Super Bowl III. Some may say Leicester City’s winning the English Premier League championship in 2016 was the greatest upset ever. You might even try to cite No. 16-seed Maryland-Baltimore County’s beating top-seeded Virginia in the 2018 NCAA Basketball Tournament as the biggest.

You can try, but you would be wrong.

No, what happened in Lake Placid on a chilly, and I believe snowy, Friday night on Feb. 22, 1980 trumps everything. How? It changed an entire nation’s view of a sport. It was cool to play and watch hockey. It wasn’t just Canada’s game anymore.

Of course, the U.S. had shocked the world 20 years before at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., when it won the hockey gold medal, beating Canada, the Russians and Czechoslovakia in what was the first “Miracle On ice.”

But let’s go back to what happened right before they lit the flame at Lake Placid in 1980.

You probably forgot what took place at Madison Square Garden when the Soviet Union beat the Americans 10-3 in what was the final tuneup for the Olympics. And as the tournament began, the idea that a bunch of college kids could beat the Russian pros, guys who had taken NHL teams to the woodshed, was preposterous.

The fact the U.S. managed to get to the medal round itself is a miracle. They scored in the final seconds on a goal by Bill Baker to tie Sweden 2-2. If the Americans lose that game, there is no “Miracle.”

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Carp: The Joy Has Returned To Nate Schmidt’s Game

**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**

Nate Schmidt had just come off the ice after Saturday’s morning skate at City National Arena and he was wearing a big smile.

Nothing new about that. Schmidt is usually smiling. As one of the members of an exclusive club, he gets the fact that playing in the NHL is a privilege and it’s one that he embraces.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But there was something different about Saturday’s grin. I don’t know if it was an aura or a sudden uptick in demeanor, but Schmidt was really, really in a good mood. Perhaps it was the fact that after being away from home for nearly a month, he got to sleep in his own bed Friday night and that he and his teammates would finally get to skate in their own rink later that night in front of their fans.

My theory is Schmidt is a happier person these days because he is playing better hockey and he seems to enjoy playing for Peter DeBoer.

Let’s not sugarcoat it: it has been a tough year for the 28-year-old defenseman from Minnesota. He hurt his left knee on opening night in a collision with San Jose’s Logan Couture and he missed 12 games. He struggled early upon his return. Then his coach was fired as the Golden Knights went through another befuddling stretch of inconsistent play.

But lately, Schmidt has shown signs of being his old self, the guy who jumped into the play and made things happen, which is what the Knights got from him their inaugural season in 2017-18 when they went to the Stanley Cup Final.

I think one of the big things is simplifying your game. I was trying to do too much the first half of the year. You tear it down, bring it back up, sort of like a grassroots kind of thing. Schmidt

Schmidt and Shea Theodore have both been contributors to the Knights’ attack. Since DeBoer took over for Gerard Gallant Jan. 15, Schmidt has score two goals and has six assists. He has had back-to-back multi-point games and now has 26 points for the year.

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