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Gallant On VGK Goalie Situation: “That’s Going To Be A Tough One For Them”

If it wasn’t clear before, it should be now. Robin Lehner is the Golden Knights starting goalie.

Robin (Lehner) has done what you want players to do when they show up with a new team. He has played at a level, not just in games but also through camp, where we have had to give him the net. This is not about Flower not doing something. He has been great. Robin has just been at a different level. –Pete DeBoer to The Athletic

The Golden Knights sticky goalie situation is starting to become a bigger story in the national media. With it has come a rash of opinions about the present and the future, both of which will be challenging for Vegas to navigate.

It’s time for the market to recognize that Robin Lehner deserves that multi-year deal, in my mind anyway, and I just don’t know how that can be in Vegas. –Pierre LeBrun on 2 Man Advantage podcast

The next series, two, or three will certainly go a long way in determining where the Golden Knights head with their future between the pipes. At the same time, the reason it will be one, two, or three series is directly correlated to how the situation is handled in the present.

It’s a situation that hasn’t been easy to maneuver already and the Golden Knights have only lost a single game since arriving in Edmonton.

That’s going to be a tough one for them, there’s no doubt. Marc’s such a popular guy and a great character guy but, as I found out, it’s all about winning. They want to win, they’re thinking they’re doing the best thing for their team. They are tough decisions. It’s easy to look at it from the outside and say ‘Why isn’t Fleury playing? He’s done this and that for them,’ but you know they are on a path where they are trying to win every game and obviously they think Lehner is the better goalie right now. It’s a tough call for them and everybody knows that, every fan knows that. A thousand people have asked me that question the last couple days and I say ‘hey I don’t have to make that decision anymore.’ –Gerard Gallant to 2 Man Advantage podcast

The Golden Knights former coach thinks it’s clear that the current coach believes Lehner gives the team a better chance to win than Fleury. And while that’s all good and well right now, where does that leave the team when this season ends?

Unless you think I’m wrong, Fleury is still the face of that young franchise in Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury’s not going anywhere. They don’t have a lot of contracts coming up. So unless there’s a bit of a magic trick, and you never know, I don’t know how much sense it would make to have a ton of money invested in goal.  –LeBrun Podcast

Pete DeBoer has been behind an NHL bench for 92 playoffs games. In the first 84, he never switched starting goalies. Literally not even once. In 2011-12, his first year with the Devils, DeBoer rolled out Martin Brodeur for all 24 playoff games. Then, from 2015-16 to last year, over four playoff runs, he started Matin Jones in 60 straight Sharks playoff games.

With Vegas, he’s swapped twice in the playoffs so far, but once was in the round-robin and the other was as part of a back-to-back. Obviously, his goalie tandem is a lot different than the combos of Brodeur/Hedberg, Jones/Reimer, and Jones/Dell, but his history he’s reluctant to make the switch.

The goalie story will dominate the Golden Knights landscape from here until they either hoist the Cup or hang their heads through a handshake line. Strap on those seatbelts Vegas, it’s going to be a rollercoaster, no matter what happens.

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68 Comments

  1. This is how Debooor starts to disassemble the VGK great start. All he really needs to do is rotate goalies every other game and see who ends up on top. Robin given up several easy goals so he is not the standout Debooor thinks. Hang in MAF take there 14 million and relax you deserve it.

    • Luke A.

      I couldn’t agree more. Living in Vegas and having a team finally has been great but in the words of Gallant, In reference to DeBoer, “He’s a clown.” I think this move does hurt the team long and short term. Fleury is stable. Lenher is not. Lenher’s record looks great but who has he beat? Chicago 3 times, New Jersey, Buffalo, and mediocre Dallas? Come on. Subban could have done that. When Lenher goes down 0-2 or 1-3 to Colorado watch for DeBoer to make the switch, asking Fleury to go 3-0 or 3-1 and it won’t happen. And then Lenher will get paid elsewhere and that will be that. Kind of awkward in the clubhouse next year when you have to go back to Fleury.

  2. Stan Kovaleski

    While Lehner has certainly played well enough to win in the Chicago series, he didn’t play any better than Fleury. I think Fleury made more big stops in his one game and timely big stops. Lehner let a couple of soft goals in during his 3 Chicago wins, so we’ll see what the coach does when he starts playing a bit erratic like Crawford from the Blackhawks does. I would like to see the Knights sign him but lets be real, he doesn’t walk on water. If he leaves and goes to a team that doesn’t have the talent the Knights have, he might just be another overpaid OK goalie.

    • norman sunday

      That is possible. Is DeBoer piss that Fleury has kicked his ass in both places he has been? Got a trade to consider: Murray(Pens) to Minnesota, Stalock(Minnesota) to Vegas and Fleury to Pens with Vegas and Minnesota each picking up $1M of Fleury’s salary.

    • Julie

      You are absolutely right. And PDB knows that he has to make a choice- rotate which apparently goes against his grain or stick with an OK goalie because for some reason thinks Fleury won’t cut it. I think PDB is stressing over this because he could really flub it and it will cost him.

  3. Doktor Hockey

    Other than you Ken, who really cares what an X (fired) coach thinks about our CURRENT team. What he says means nothing, does nothing. The only reason this would be “national” attention issssssss because it’s the STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!!!!!!!! The talking heads will grab anything they can to try and make a story, just like you!!!!

    • Daryl

      Not e tirely true Dok… As soon as Lehner was picked up the entire hockey world started talking about it. This has nothing to do with the playoffs.

      I don’t know if VGK is better off with Lehner or MAF in net but what I do know is that, in these playoffs, Lehner hasn’t done anything to say he should be the starter over MAF. I think it’s purely PDB prefers Lehner over MAF for whatever reason. As for the future, I would love for VGK to pick up the younger Lehner. He is a good goalie and he can help VGK win for years to come. Maybe that is why PDB has chosen Lehner over MAF. It seems as though he has done that with other positions as well

      • Julie

        Daryl, do you think PDB had something to do with the former goalie coach being let go? Just wondering. Like maybe he disagreed with him (was Prior his name?) about Fleury, put in a word, goalie coach gone, and getting anyone to replace Subban who would become the top goalie and pressuring Fleury. I don’t want to believe anything that sinister, but there was that mess about the goalie coach not really working for VGK that Ken wrote about a little while ago.

        • Daryl

          I 100% do think PDB had something to do with the former goalie coach situation. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing (or a good one) as new coaches hire new coaches all the time. I think VGK and PDB lied to us about the circumstances surrounding the situation and that’s what I have a problem with.

          I’ve said from day 1 that I didn’t like PDB nor did I think he was a very good coach. This is coming from the point of a Pens fan and not as a Vegas fan.

          • Julie

            Yeah, good or bad, I think it would explain, if PDB stays mostly with Lehner, that PDB kind of has to play Lehner if he was a big voice in getting him. Because he has to show management that he was right. I guess we’ll see. I think MAF will be fine no matter what, and fans know him and what he can do for the team. It would be the ultimate scenario to win the cup with Fleury. I don’t blame him for not watching tv to avoid this discussion. He needs to stay focused.

          • PDB did not make the decision to replace the goalie coach that was upper mgt when they decide Gallant couldn’t get done what they wanted. I am not a fan of PDB but l have to admit he brought more energy to the team for what ever reason. PDB is nothing more than an employee as was Gallant. Quit looking under rocks for things that don’t exist. Concentrate on what’s important and that’s winning emotions aside at all costs. Gallents comment about PDB as a clown doesn’t speak particular well for him – l would have thought he was above that kind of thing.

        • Julie – you should be asking doktor hockey he is the authority on everything at least he believes he is. Don’t forget he is Pa dad PR guy!!!!!Do l understand your husband is from Edmonton? I have family that still lives there. Surprising as it may be which l am shocked about they are not particularly clearly interested in hockey at the moment – sour grapes about the Oilers l guess.

          • Daryl

            Come on HD…. You know as well as I do that the HC almost always had a say in what happens with fellow coaches. He may not have the final say but he had a say. And I didn’t say that move was good or bad just that he had a hand in it. New coaches hire new assistants all the time, it’s not a big deal. I just don’t like how it was handled, nor that it happened

          • Julie

            Hey, HD. Yes, my husband is from Edmonton. He actually installed cable for Wayne Gretzky and lived near some other famous hockey players. It’s the same stories, so I don’t question it. 🙂 Yes, he was pissed the Oilers didn’t get past the Blackhawks. And he says anyone comparing Ovechkin to Gretzky is ridiculous as Gretzky was consistently spectacular.

            As for DH, he enlightened me in a previous thread on Chicago that he was “taking it easy” on me because I was a woman. I had also blamed him for starting the goalie and captain wars here with his posts. He ignores me now he said, and it’s working out just fine for me. 🙂

      • Doktor Hockey

        You said it yourself. DeCoach prefers Panda over Flower. That’s ALL we need to know. It’s HIS decision (right or wrong). What others say: Me, you, talking heads means nothing. Can’t we just enjoy playoff hockey without all this stupid drama?

        • First, we’ll never hear what Gallant REALLY feels about anything VGK, because he’s under contract til next June and collecting a nice paycheck along the way. Not for the $$ as much as because our management has to give permission for other teams to talk with Gallant about any future job he may want to interview for = Gallant watching what he says.
          I believe he’s going to interview for the Seattle crackheads job and I think it would create an instant rivalry for the two teams as AZ. moves to the Central Division because they don’t do daylight savings time . Our upper management is the best & they have MORE INFLUENCE THAN ANY OTHER FRONT OFFICE. And good for that because they are REALLY GOOD AT WHAT THEY DO!

        • Not so easy without having our Fleury.
          There would not be this drama if PtB would simply put him where he belongs.
          In front of our net!
          Really tired of sweating it out every time he’s not in plus the team plays better with Fleury at the net.

        • DH that without a doubt is the dumbest thing from you yet. Decoach pefers panda over fluery. I am sure there is much more to his decisions that something like that. If that is the case we the golden knights are in trouble. That borders on your stupid remark about bringing a knife to a gunfight. The hockey business like any business is decision are not make because someone prefers X over Y. Since vegas has two (great? goalies) there is more to any decision than emotion and that is what your remark insinuates.

      • Too Right!
        Just handed right over.
        Still don’t understand Perons deal and constantly worried we keep our guys.
        Still know FLUERY is our man that belongs behind the net !!!
        And I do think he should think hard on some of these “new lines”,
        He’s playing,our guys play fast and hard they get each other.
        The goal is to hoist the cup PDB!!

    • Coyote

      I care what Gallant thinks. He knows hockey better than you. Why do we care what you think?

      • Pete Deboer has forgotten more about hockey that everyone who’s commented on this board combined. Why not let the guys who get paid to KNOW what to do in these situations do their job. Is the team winning….yes. Are we a Stanley Cup favorite….yes. So what is the problem? The management must be doing something right. This team has never missed the playoffs, has one Stanley Cup appearance and is on track for another but the “arm chair coaches” sit back and comment and bitch constantly about how poorly this franchise has been handled. There are teams who haven’t even been to the playoffs for more than 5 years, much less a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Getting to the Final is one of if not the hardest series to get into in ALL of sports. Everyone just needs to relax a little. Fleury is a pro he knows how this works, he went through it in Pittsburgh. He’s getting paid $7 million to sit on the bench….poor Fleury.

        • I started watching hockey in 50s in Detroit Some guy named Gordie Howe went on to Toronto my best friend was Tommy Smythe . Conn’s grandson then to Mpls Denver Chicago (3 Stanley Cups). Then Vegas so dont be so sure of yourself!!

    • Nope.
      FLUERY has been there from the start.
      He has way more agility,and the whole team plays better with FLUERY. The Knights didn’t even need another golie in the first place.
      FLUERY keeps everyone’s spirits up and has so much more experience that this whole thing is a joke on Vegas.Instead of enjoying the games,now I have to sweat it out every time the opposing team is near scoring. Let Leaner go and get A l ex Patrwoski instead and give us our Fleury back!!!

  4. james

    I’d like to see them split 50/50. I truly think it will be out the best in both players. I know its highly unusual.

  5. Stan Kovaleski

    We all know that hockey is a business and winning is important. I grew up in the Detroit area watching Yzerman, Gallant, Federov, etc, etc. I moved to Vegas and never thought I could ever like and follow a team like the Red Wings. I was wrong. The Knights are in my blood and I like all of our players. However, Gallant got a raw deal when the dumped him and now MAF looks like he is also not being treated like the class act that he is. DeBoer may be a good coach but man we gave him a great team. McPhee makes me a little nervous when he supports some of the stuff that is going on. Not sure you saw the David Perron story but he said he never wanted to leave after the first year but was not offered a contract. Something just doesn’t feel right.

  6. Why is there such a fuss about who starts or who doesn’t- MAF will always be the facr of the Knights as long as he is on the team. He is not going anywhere and walk away from 14 million dollars. He is a proud humble smart guy and certainly not stupid. Keep your shorts on and hope for a winning playoff drive to hoist the cup that’s the important thing regardless who’s in goal. GALLANT is just happy he doesn’t have to make those tuff decisions at the moment.

  7. sb

    This is actually a great scenario for the Knights and the fans. MAF is a better goalie right now BECAUSE Lehner is here and pushing for the starting job. Fluery is competing at a higher level now because someone (Subban pushed exactly zero) is threatening his position with the Team. Is the Cup the goal we’re all after? If it is, having Lehner and making Fluery dig deeper is a terrific scenario. Both goalies are palying at the max because they know the other is ready to take back over. Brilliant.

    • Ian

      If this is Lehner’s max, I think there should be some concern and discussion as to why Fleury has only seen 2 games. Lehner has not been “on a different level” or outstanding in net. If you honestly think that, you’re just not looking at the facts.

  8. Doktor Hockey

    I’m going to devote my energy to rooting the Knights on to try and win the cup. All this blah blah blah about who’s in goal. WHY? The coach makes that decision. Live with it, whoever is playing! Ken got exactly what he wanted … his “drama minions” out in force! So funny! GO KNGHTS GO

  9. Doktor Hockey

    Ya want to talk about a goalie? GLEN HALL … played 502 straight games in net…… WITHOUT a mask!!!!! There you go minions, talk about that. ha

  10. Pete DeBoer

    The best part of all of this for me is fans who just started watching hockey 2+ seasons ago thinking they know more than PDB lol.

    Lehner > Fleury

    • Doktor Hockey

      ha ha , right on!!!!

    • Daryl

      Gets the flaw in your statement…. Some of us have been watching hockey since the 70s. And I’m not dating I know more than PDB but they’re are other “experts” who have played or coached who haven’t agreed with this decision, and some of those people have won Cups. So are they smarter than PDB? As I’ve stated deferral times, I don’t care who plays as long as they win, but I do think PDB has certain favorites that he will play over others… We’ve seen it with his handling of the defense

    • Sounds to me like someone is trying to fix something that wasn’t broke in the first place,make a name possibly
      Yet as a coach I would think the more fans the better!

  11. Let’s face it, MAF sat on the bench while watching his team win two of his three cups. He has a history of playing worse during the playoffs. In the game against Chicago a weak goal trickled between his legs. Remember the OT short handed goal in Game 6 against the Sharks last year? This season he gave up 4 goals almost every. VGK is not winning a cup with MAF in goal. PDB sees these guys everyday and knows who is playing better.

    • sb

      That’s absolutely correct. Fluery has three rings but only personally won one. His Playoff record is so-so. Think back to the 3rd Period, Game 7, 2019 Playoffs ……….

      • Daryl

        In the 2015-16 season MAF started 58 games and was 35-17. In playoffs he only played the 2 games. Murray played in only 13 regular season games but played 21 playoff games.

        In the 2016-17 season MAF started 34 games and was 18-10. He started 15 of the playoff games. Murray started 47 games during regular season and only played 10 playoff games.

        Not sure how you can say MAF has 3 rings but only won 1 personally. Every year, the Pens made it to the playoffs because of the play of MAF. You can’t take that away or diminish his role by saying he only personally won 1 Cut

        • norman sunday

          BINGO!!!

        • Julie

          Daryl, I was listening to the Las Vegas Review podcast and I heard a perspective on the whole tweet thing. That it wasn’t so much as Walsh with a message about Fleury not starting, as an indication that a decision may have been made to offer a contract to Lehner thereby pushing Fleury in a different direction. They also mentioned that for VGK to keep them both, someone like Stastny would have to go to stay under the cap. Just curious if you think that could be the reason for the tweet, that Walsh has some inside knowledge about the future with VGK for Fleury. Their point was something had to precipitate that tweet, not just not starting Fleury. (You may have already commented on this, if so, I apologize. There are a lot of threads still flying around, trying to keep up.)

          • Daryl

            It is very possible this has more to do with the future of VGK and MAF…. I don’t see both goalies staying though. That is just too much money invested in your goalies. They may sign Lehner to a contract but they would need to find someone to take over MAFs. And that is very possible. They have have told MAF/Agent that is their plan which got them upset.

            I kind of look at it like this though… I think right now MAF is better than Lehner. I also think he should be starting. BUT, MAF is getting older and at some point you have to look to the future and I’m ok with VGK trying to tie down Lehner. He is a very good goalie and this team can win with him in net. This isn’t the old day of sports where there was loyalty to a fault.

  12. Tim

    OK folks get your head out of the sand. Let me first say that Fleury is one hell of a teammate and one hell of a person. He is and always will be the face of the franchise. Some day he’ll have a statue in from of the arena now the reality check. Last year we had the Sharks down 3-1 let them back in the series then after a horrendous call he lets in 4 goals in game 7 Marchie ties it over time Fleury gives up the goal and we go home. This year we were underachieving Gallant gets fired and Fleury was part of what was our underwhelming season. Anyway you look at it the fact is the team has played much better under DeBoer and that can’t be argued. Maybe after the Sharks beat us he doesn’t have much confidence in Fleury. Lehners only loss was a fluke shot from behind the net off Lehner’s mask a one in a million goal. Another thought is kelly and George traded for Lehner for a reason maybe they didn’t think Fleury alone could bring home the cup.

    • Doktor Hockey

      Tim, It’s just impossible to hold a logical conversation with some of these people. They either don’t use common sense or just let emotions over-ride logic. GO KNIGHTS GO

  13. Daryl

    MAF led them to 2 of those 3 Cups in Pitt. And yes MAF did let an easy goal slip past him as well as come easy or if the crease and get burnt, but Lehner had let several bad goals sneak in as well including head butting one in himself. I like Lehner a lot but in these playoffs he hasn’t done anything to separate himself from MAF. If he can lean rebound control he will be amazing

  14. Julie

    Looks like Vancouver is coming to meet VGK on Sunday…
    Here we go!!

    • Julie – The Knights will have their hands full. If Vegas can’t make it and lift the Cup I would hope Vancouver does. There hasn’t been a Stanley Cup in Canada for some time and that’s where it all started. I am a big Vegas fan and sincerely hope they come home from Edmonton with the Cup – Vancouver is just my second choice. It will be interesting how this all turns out – Go Knights Go.

      • Julie

        HD, I totally understand that sentiment. Vancouver is the only Canadian team in it now, right? I certainly don’t want Boston moving forward. Their fans are almost as bad as a couple of commenters here, ha ha. I heard a sportscaster say St. Louis and Vegas had similar strategies in how they play and that Vancouver figured it out with St. Louis. I hope Vegas has some good surprises in store.

  15. Tony B

    Wow I can’t believe som if the comments on here. Before Lehner everyone was crying MAF was playing too much and would be eorn out before the playoffs. Realize Flurry was always meant to be a stop-gap goalie. He’s no spring chicken and has had concussions. MAF played lights out the last two years, but VGK needed a solid backup, that can put pressure on Fluery & give him some rest.

  16. norman sunday

    Key words, “needed a backup.”

  17. Daryl

    So, now that MAF’s agent has come out with his thoughts on this situation, I wonder what you all think lol

    • Julie

      Daryl,

      I noticed the Las Vegas Review article says that the MAF stat is .905 vs .904 for Lehner. I imagine that’s because on average Lehner gives up 3 goals per game?

      I’m not sure it’s a good idea for the agent to say what he did while in these games because it puts more pressure on MAF. However, it’s what many are thinking. Vegas management also should be careful here because alienating fans in addition to the pandemic restrictions will cost them money. And if tides turn from PDB being the coach to PDB being a jerk, that won’t help. Lehner’s stats don’t merit being the starter, but rather a good backup. Just my initial thoughts..

      • Thats all we are trying to say!
        Agreed!100%
        He was supposed to be a BACK UP.

        • Julie

          K, I looked into why Gallant called PDB a “clown”. It was because PDB started it by saying Gallant was chirping at his players during the series between San Jose and Vegas during a game. Gallant said straight up what happened with the players and that in one instance he was yelling at a ref not a player, and in another instance, one of the SJS was taunting him about letting someone in Vegas play and he shut that down. PDB did not respond, so I have to believe PDB can’t take responsibility nor can he investigate a situation and be objective. Gallant was right.

          Also, PDB got New Jersey and San Jose to the Cup in the first year he was with each team, but could not seal the deal those first years, and not close in the subsequent years with those teams. I’m sure when he got the call to head coach Vegas, he felt he had to prove not only could he finish the job Gallant started, but would do it his way. Maybe even change his luck with his first-year history and actually win this year. But his way seems to be messing with the team (someone earlier said he was disassembling the team).

          I watched the VGK video posted yesterday on the NHL/VGK site of PDB and heard Ken ask a question even. No one brought up the VGK goalie situation. I don’t know if it was before or after the Allan Walsh tweet. I don’t think PDB has it in him to unscrew the situation. He’s known all along what he was going to do.

      • sb

        Won’t cost the Team a buck nor a lost fan if Lehner raises the Cup in September.

  18. FLUERY has Never lost in his career to Canucks.
    So what is the deal!!!!
    Something just don’t smell right!
    Come on PDB.

  19. Norm

    Kristin, ya think?

  20. Norm

    Kristin, ya think?

  21. norman sunday

    14 games for Fleury vs 2 game if it matters to you.

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