Two days after the NHL trade deadline which saw the Golden Knights pull off a blockbuster trade acquiring Robin Lehner, head coach Pete DeBoer, who had been with the organization for just over a month, approached the podium in the media room at City National Arena.
You probably noticed Dave Prior wasn’t out there today. We’ve restructured our goaltending department a little bit here. Mike Rosati, starting tomorrow, will handle the day to day stuff. -DeBoer on February 26th, 2020
Within a matter of 48 hours, the Golden Knights had brought in competition for the face of the franchise, shipped out the supposed heir-apparent who served as the backup for two and a half seasons, and shuffled their goaltending coaches. All with just 17 games left in the regular season and while riding a six-game win streak that would extend to seven that night.
Dave is still part of the organization. It’s not health-related. Dave’s role here has always been bigger than the day to day coaching job and he’s going to base out of Ontario and continue to support us that way. -DeBoer on February 26th, 2020
Prior was among the first group of employees hired by George McPhee back in August of 2016, eight months before Gerard Gallant. He was more than just a goalie coach as DeBoer noted. Given the title “Director of Goaltending,” Prior had his hand in every decision the team made from which goalies to draft to who to sign to even the most fundamental choice of which goalie will start every single game.
Suddenly, the most important man in Golden Knights goaltending was no longer needed in Las Vegas, and instead, would be working 2,000 miles away, from his home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Peculiar under any circumstances, but especially considering the team who had leaned on Prior for three seasons had just acquired a brand new goalie to bolster their chances at winning the Stanley Cup.
However, according to Prior, the statements made by DeBoer on February 26th weren’t entirely accurate.
They weren’t truthful when they said I returned to Ontario and continued to do my duties, as I was told I’m relieved of my NHL coaching duties and I can go back home and would no longer be doing anything for the team. -Dave Prior
Unlike what some reports suggested, Prior made it clear that he did not step down but that he was removed by the organization.
He says he was placed on administrative leave until June 30th when his contract expired. Thus, as of late February, Dave Prior has not been functioning as the Director of Goaltending, nor has he been working with the organization in any form, and, since the final day of June, he hasn’t even been employed by the Vegas Golden Knights.
However, Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon made this statement on July 12th, nearly two weeks after Prior’s contract had expired.
Dave remains the Director of Goaltending and he’s based out of Ontario which is where his home is. -McCrimmon
This kind of mistruth is potentially harmful to a free agent coach because it effectively restricts another organization from hiring him as he is presumed to still be under contract.
It’s confounding to me why Kelly would say that. -Prior
Few have the depth of knowledge of the goalie position as Prior, and even fewer have the experience he possesses in areas such as scouting, developing, and managing goalies at every level of professional hockey; but none of the other 31 NHL teams will seek out his assistance with their team while the Golden Knights continue to describe him as their Director of Goaltending.
We reached out to the Golden Knights for comment in advance of this story publishing.
They declined to comment citing their preference not to discuss specifics on the contracts of their coaching staff.
UPDATE (7/28/20) – The Golden Knights have confirmed that Dave Prior is no longer with the organization.