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Pacioretty On Laid Back Atmosphere In Las Vegas

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If you’re looking for critical stories on the Golden Knights, there aren’t many places beyond this site to find them.

Between the adolescent nature of the Las Vegas professional sports media scene to the simple fact that there wasn’t much to criticize for the first few years the Golden Knights were here, the overall vibe locally on the city’s first major pro team is generally positive.

In turn, helped along by the fact that the team owns and operates the TV and radio broadcasts, and will go to great lengths to find the positive in even the direst of situations, the fan base strongly leans towards optimism as well.

One former Golden Knight wonders if that cushy environment could actually work against the team in some ways.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When I first got (to Vegas) it was weird that there was like no accountability. And I’m not talking about in the team I’m talking about like ever, you couldn’t feel pressure coming off anyone else, from the coach to the management. There was a relief when I got there but then I found myself being like I’ve got to reel this in and hold myself to a higher standard which I had always done but maybe I got away from it when I had everyone else holding me accountable (in Montreal). –Max Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

When Pacioretty first arrived in Las Vegas, he couldn’t wait to shed the responsibilities that come with being the captain of an Original Six team. For months he spoke about how much easier it was coming to the rink without the weight of unreasonable expectations that come from Canadian media.

But then, after four full seasons in Vegas, and admitted growth in himself as a person, he feels quite differently about the situation.

I mentioned that at the end of the year that no one is really holding us accountable. If we have a bad year like this, the city would be half on fire in Montreal and here it is in Vegas it’s 80 degrees and it’s sunny and we’re getting our car washed and getting our organic food and going to play golf. I was kind of like we’ve got to police this thing a little better amongst each other. I don’t want to say it was a country club but you have no one from the outside holding you accountable. –Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

Many of the luxuries most pitch as a reason Vegas has become an immediate hit in the NHL are now suddenly being bandied about as detriments by a player who wore an “A” for much of his time in the city.

A lot of these guys haven’t played somewhere else so they don’t know really what it’s like. I’ve felt myself personally it always gets the best out of you when my coach or someone else are demanding and hold you accountable and I found myself almost missing that a tiny bit when things went wrong this year. –Pacioretty on Raw Knuckles Podcast

This is certainly a new angle we’ve never heard mentioned by anyone else. Whether he’s talking about the fan base, the media, and/or the organization itself, he may be onto something.

Clearly, a toxically negative environment would not be better than a “country club” like setup but his point is similar to one we often reference when critiquing specific players or the team.

“Without the freedom to criticize, there is no true praise.”

Along those same lines, if the franchise strives to create utopia for the players, how can they ever be expected to know when it’s necessary to raise their level?

Maybe Bruce Cassidy can solve the problem by installing a bit more accountability than his predecessors. Or maybe the owner needs to dial back on some of the conveniences he’s providing until the team proves they’ve earned them. Or maybe I need to be even meaner.

Or… maybe Pacioretty is just a rare bird and this whole thing is a bunch of bunk.

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54 Comments

  1. Coyote

    So, does Stone deserve some criticism? Doesn’t much of what is presented here fall under the purview of the captain?

    • Cassandra Tutson

      I think kind of think that is what Patches is alluding to. Perhaps a change in who wears the C will do this team good.

      • Dean Studer

        Can I say how very ecstatic I am because we finally fired Coach DeBoer. I lived I Sharks territory long enough to figure out he is a loser. Then moved here looking forward to Gallant, only to be horrified of that terrible exchange of talent. Love the game. Strong believer in support your local team. Looking forward to a new beginning. Hope the owner stays distant. Don’t support his decisions. Heard he was going more hands on this year. Have mercy , stay in your box. Let the team have your support , and pay the bills . please.

        • Richie-Rich

          I agree, almost completely. I haven’t seen any indications that Foley is carbon copy of Jerry Jones or the Steinbrenners. The commenters on this list, especially ThG are continuously giving McCrimmon and McPhee a pass on the piss poor management job they’ve done since year 2 (with few exceptions). I am not going to regurgitate all of the good and bad moves, they’ve been thrown against the wall enough.

          Lehner and Tatar were two of the worst moves by these two clowns. Firing Gallant was right on up there with the Fleury trade.

          McCrimmon’s job certainly isn’t safe. He’s on the bubble. If only Foley had given Fleury and Gallant as much rope!!!!!

          Watching Gallant taking the Rangers as far as he did was justification enough for me that his firing was unwarranted. Lehner? Well that argument is over as well. The goal tender position remains muddy and isn’t a foundation for success.

  2. Jacque

    Good article , perspective and I look to your column and podcast for critical analysis and more realistic opinions. Before his passing really liked Brian Blessing radio show. RIP.
    My take on the the TV and radio crew except for a couple individuals is they are in la la land and trying to keep their jobs afraid to say a critical word. It gets literally nauseous at times . I can’t listen to the radio show anymore and mute the TV at intermissions.
    I see and listen to a lot of NHL games on Sirius and TV . Seems like other organizations that have been around the game have a more critical analysis on the teams they represent.
    Really appreciate and look to reality in your analysis.
    Thank you

    • VGK Fan

      Jacque,

      I too really miss Brian Blessing he told it like it was. He was always fair but not afraid to be critical when needed. Brian had the best hockey show in Vegas I spent my lunch hour listening to him and Stevie slap shot for over three years. He was always kind to the audience when they called in and had the best guest including Jason and Ken at times. My favorite guest was Dennis Bernstein the most interesting man in hockey.

  3. Let’s see, he arrived , how many games did he miss due to injuries especially In key games
    The team never should have traded for him and just signed David Perron , he only would have cost 16 million, actually made it to the Cup series and saved 12 million in cap space
    If a veteran player needs fans and organization putting pressure on him and forcing him to play better he needs to look at himself

    • Rob S.

      I get so tired of clowns who can’t take even a moment to look at data, but whine because we let their favorite player go *four years* ago. Pacioretty played 31 fewer games than Perron did over the last four years, 28 of those 31 last year. Despite what “muh feelz” tell you, injuries were only an issue last year. Btw, Pacioretty *still* played more games–and more effectively–than the sainted Mark Stone.

    • Gary

      He did say he took a look at himself and needed to hold himself accountable. It’s in the article.

  4. Kyubey

    Doesn’t this kind of contradict the whole “Front office treats its players like shit” theory if the players themselves think it’s a pretty chill place to play at? Either Pacioretty didn’t really give a shit himself, or there isn’t this intense pressure to ‘win or get traded’ that we thought was going on.

  5. Canada

    Finally a bit of honesty from a player seemingly after the fact. Was never a big fan he disappears in the playoffs when the going gets rough. A talented player for sure but misses the fearless instincts needed to hoist a cup. I feel for the coaches of today who now have to coach a different kind of hockey player in a kinder gentler world. Best of luck to Cassidy. Get us a goal tender and a couple mean big forwards that love to go in the corners and will stand in front of the net and and we have a great shot this year . No more ive fallen and i cant get up goal tending to hard to watch.

  6. Bobby

    Given last season’s long list of injuries- other than attributing it all to ‘bad luck’, could the so-called country club atmosphere be at fault? Wonder how much, if any, research has gone into studying last season’s injury bug.

  7. EK

    It makes a lot of sense what he says. As a fan if you posted or tweeted about a bad game or a bad stretch in the season you’d get criticized, told you weren’t a “real fan” or a “true fan”. In other cities with other sports, you’d have a long thread about why it’s happening and what needs to be done to fix it. In Vegas, you are an a** hole for saying it. The fan base is a bunch of apologists and coddlers, there is no way that doesn’t work it’s way into the culture of the team. They are paid athletes they need to be accountable. Max is right. Time to start cracking the whip.

    • I really do wonder how much of this gets to the players, the apologist and coddler stuff. I also wonder how much of it was created by the organization and how much is just the circumstance of the first year.

      • Ken, All of the above. In varying degrees of impact. BTW, thanks for your site– keeps me sharp!

      • Gillian

        Ken! Long time! I love the site! Good to see u r well.

    • VGK Fan

      EK,

      Your comments are correct.

      The big problem in this city is there is no call in show for the fans to voice an opinion on VGK. The Raiders have around 8 hours of radio coverage every weekday. Brian Blessing had the best show but sadly he passed in January.

      There does seem to be a wide spread voice out there that we should just shut up and never be critical.

      • There is a radio call-in show from 4p-6p, M-F, on LVSportsNetwork, 98.9. On summer hiatus currently, but otherwise broadcasting.

  8. Dean

    That’s why trading him for nothing is going to hurt more than many realize. He’s one of the few (if not the only one) who recognized this.

    • Lori McD

      As a new hockey fan when VGK started, I don’t know what’s reasonable for accountability from the fans to the team. I hope we’re not ever the town that’s “on fire” when things aren’t going well or a particular player is having on off season. IMO, fans hold the Owner, President of Hockey Operations, and GM responsible, not the Coach or the Team. We’ve seen a “win at all costs” philosophy from that group that’s done nothing but hurt the Team and the Fans. Some folks have stopped their season tickets, but does that work? I’m not sure HOW to hold Management, the Coaches, and the Team accountable. It would be nice to get reasonable and actionable feedback on how to do just that.

  9. Ken time to be meaner – it has been posted often on the site by fans who understand hockey things are pretty lay back here in Vegas and that is no way to develop a winning attitude. The initial bunch had something to prove and look where that took them. The rosters since that time have gotten big money for coming here to retire in a number of cases. It will be interesting to see how Patch does with a new environment. The Front Office has created a problem which will take time to unravel, I believe Foley making all the money he has made needs to hold them accountable which doesn’t appear to be the case. I know there are some on this site that believe Foley is the problem, however, I would respectfully suggest without him Vegas would not have a team. He is an owner willing to spend what’s he believes is necessary to win rather than other owners who don’t feel the same way. Right or wrong – you can’t buy the Cup which I hope he realizes so he needs to surround himself with better asset management personnel. The current bunch did well assemble the initial team and since that time have destroyed what they by accident built.

  10. Danny Gallivan

    ok Max, I will do as you say.

    You suck Pacioretty ! are you accountable now?

    nothing could be finer than to trade you to Carolina.

  11. STH#14,367

    Max, would have been a real leadership move to state this perspective while it was beneficial to the team. Now it seems like you are lashing out from bitterness. Most organizations expect the professionals they hire to self motivate and agree to hold each other accountable for the benefit of the group.

  12. Eric M

    And that’s why Buffalo is lambasting Eichle.

  13. Last couple of years Stone hasn’t been out on the Ice as much. I think he shouldn’t have the honor of the C letter on his jersey. Someone that worked hard and carried the team?. I just don’t think he deserves to wear the Captains patch

  14. THE hockey GOD

    i guess patches doesn’t read the comics and missed Walsh/MAF back stabbing cartoon ?! and missed the fact that VGK ships off players after they screw up BIGLY ?

    And he missed the grape stomper shipping off MAF
    and shipping off Eakin. and no. 88 after he cost the team with his drug suspension (not to mention his level of play dropped like a rock on the ice) .

    VGk hold players’ responsible in subtle way, like getting rid of losers after their value goes down and getting rid of their loser agents.

    I doubt patches will survive the first hip check he gets in upcoming new season, then all the haters will have that “foot in mouth” impairment, again.

    • Very well put my freind , do we forget Max was ran out of Montreal ,to me anything invovling him was a mistake and your right , let’s see how many games he plays on a contract year

      • Rob S.

        Do we forget that, in Montreal, Max was the captain in exactly the kind of overheated environment that many of you wish to import here? Who is the captain here? Not Max. It’s Mark Stone. Are you ready to hold him to the same standard or is this just that you don’t like Pacioretty? I’ll bet you $100 (Ken can hold the stakes) that Pacioretty scores 30 next year.

        • I dunno, I’m thinking that Patches was pandering to the podcast listeners. Giving them some negative fodder about Vegas’ Sin City Reputation.
          My view: these players are PROS. Not vulnerable young kids with “eyes wide open”, coming to Vegas for the 1st pull of a slot machine! If Patches
          motivated himself to stay focused on HOCKEY here in Vegas, that says he’s a PROFESSIONAL. That’s what PROS DO. . Any city has its own distractions, but does that imply that NO ONE CAN DO THEIR JOBS BECAUSE OF IT?? Next we’ll start hearing that Vegas is a BAD BAD SINFUL PLACE, AND NO ATHLETES SHOULD EVER COME HERE— TOO MUCH ACTION FOR THOSE FRAGILE ATHLETES. All those golf courses and casinos are the DEVIL! How can people actually have Jobs and Careers, with all the distractions?? RIDICULOUS!!

          • THE hockey GOD

            TS talking about “accountability”

            how many times did the ex Capt of the highly vaunted HABS wear the C (not once) or A( once) with the VGK ???

            The buck stops with his own hypocritical statement.

            If I had someone who worked HALF the time, I would get rid of him too ! How is that for accountability no. 67 ? YOU ARE FIRED. Get your lamo butt out of here NOW !

          • Precisely, Thg. Hypocrisy from a player who GLADLY came to Vegas for the very things he seems concerned about now. Hmmmmm…

    • Tim

      THG, Getting rid of losers or giving them away. Were more apt to give them away with zero return now that’s how you keep a team in contention. Then there’s our loaded farm system that has produced what in 5 years? Face it this charade has been exposed and the rest of the country isn’t buying what were selling.

      • THE hockey GOD

        Tim
        freeing up CAP space is not zero return.
        The did get more than CAP space for Cody and no. 88.

      • THE hockey GOD

        @ Tim
        every real hockey fan knows it take more than a few years to build a really good farm system, assuming that is intent of franchise. And I repeat again, since
        it seems to escape your brain; what part of “win the stanley cup in six years” the Foley mandate is not clear to you ? (JG wentworth song is playing in background “it’s my money, and I WANT IT NOW”)

        I remember a few month back you were one of the clamoring “where’s our no. 1 center”, “where’s our no. 1 center”. Now we got one, now you and your ilk are always whining about one thing or another. Like bleeding heart liberals. The season hasn’t even started. I have one thing to say get over it and grow up Your clueless whining is growing old.

        • Richie-Rich

          I predicted the fall last year and where Lehner would end up as well (by mid-January 2022).

          My prediction for this upcoming season is even worse. It will take Cassidy and future new management another 6 years to get this team headed back in the right direction – Stanley Cup finals.

          The team completely squandered the luck and roster they were given in year 1 and blew out the cap along with it.

          This year, I predict a 3rd or 4th place finish in the Pacific and another bottom 16 result (no playoffs). Thanks to McCrimmon, McPhee and Foley.

        • Richie-Rich

          The other part of the long term rebuild will be whether the future GM will retain the services of Cassidy or not. Could cost the grape stomper even more $$$$$$$.

    • VGK Fan

      Good thing we got rid of the 3rd all time winning goalie in NHL history. I really enjoyed not being in the playoffs and saved thousands of dollars on tickets cost too.

      • THE hockey GOD

        @ VGK , you mean the fARCE of franchise, SAY IT

        I know you can do it. SAY IT !!

        Sam Kinison would like you hear you yell it FARCE OF THE FRANCHISE !!

  15. Obvious

    Without Pac… Stone is nothing

    And now that Stone is tetering on the edge of a career ending injury his effectiveness will be abysmal

    Sadly Eichel too with his injury is just one big hit from being the end of his career

    Good thing for the psycho goalie who will save the team… as he takes fat bastard and McPhukup on a ride

  16. Donal Moore

    I was saying it was a false the minute VGK took over the Media in Vegas ..G Lawless one of theretoken puppets hamered N. Gizmondi. And B May . He would even hate it when In HL network would use Jesse Granger instead of him.. When Ryan the hockey guy does Interviews and does VGK Lawless ,, And speculates they correct them right away I’ve heard it on the radio.. Way too much control.

  17. Emmanuel

    I don’t give Patches opinion any credence……..sour grapes.

  18. THE hockey GOD

    LAURENT BROSSOIT
    G, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
    lb
    Laurent Brossoit’s availability for the start of training camp and the regular season is unclear following offseason hip surgery.
    Robin Lehner, who was also sidelined at the end of the 2021-22 campaign following shoulder surgery, is currently in the same boat with an uncertain timetable. Vegas should have a better understanding of their goaltending situation when training camp begins. Logan Thompson could see his role increase for the beginning of the 2022-23 season.

    I guess we really had injuries in this season, hip injury isn’t taken lightly.

  19. Tim

    Ken my hats off to you usually you do a nice job of telling the truth not like the local media which puts a positive spin on everything concerning the Knights. I think Patches interview was pretty objective. I think this team and management are getting exposed by multiple people and organizations that Foley may have to cut bait. This team in a short 5 years have went from the penthouse to the outhouse that took some doing but mission accomplished. Even the most avid fan now can’t believe anything they say because in your heart you know there just stroking you. I wonder what’s going through the players minds right now with camp opening in a month.

    • Thanks for the kind words. I do my best to simply say what I see. I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I say, but I hope people realize that I spend literally every minute of every day with my mind on the team so my opinions aren’t just made up out of thin air.

      • Richie-Rich

        Ken,

        You give us the unfiltered opinions and we appreciate it. While I don’t always agree with you, you’re spot on most of the time.

        I think Foley has given McCrimmon and McPhee too much rope. I was surprised to see DeBoer go. I had expected all 3 of them to get another shot this season or all 3 to be given the boot. Now, if management is shown the door after this season, the new GM will have to make a decision on Cassidy. They usually want to bring in their guy.

        Rich

  20. Roberto

    Follow sports long enough and patterns emerge when things get challenging:

    1. The coach was too tough on us. We’re pros, we deserve to be treated like men and with respect. Let’s get a player’s coach in here and things will be fine.

    2. The coach wasn’t tough enough on us. We’re pros, but we need structure and discipline to succeed. Let’s get a hard ass in here, tighten it up and things will be fine.

    At the end of the day, as dumb as it may seem in needing to placate millionaires, this stuff really matters. Sports are as much mental as physical. You have to change things up to get results. Patches’ thinking likely echos MGMT’s with the change to Cassidy who’s a dude who’s less on warm feelings and more on cold reality (+special teams) so it’s nice to hear that from Max. As much as candor can bite, be appreciative when you’re lucky enough to get it.

    This situation also shows that sending Gallant off was a mistake. He was a rare coach who could blend 1 and 2 from above. A tough dude, but was liked. Even then, if he hadn’t been let go at that time, he would have eventually. Guys just need to hear a different voice from time to time.

    DeBoer might have had what Gallant did, but the Sharks stink was something he could never shake and guys couldn’t fully like/respect him because of it. Maybe not totally fair, but he’s employed now, so all good for him.

  21. Ant

    Hard to feel pressure when the GM just blind sides everyone with an early departure ticket.

  22. Pistol Pete

    Hopefully Cassidy really can figure all this out. Make his players accountable and get the most of each of them. One who comes to the forefront is Karlsson—getting his offensive production back up. I am guardedly optimistic on the coaching change. I am sure Cassidy has spent a lot time since he’s been here in conference with McCrimmon and McPhee.

    • Richie-Rich

      The problem wasn’t either of the coaches. Management should look in the mirror.

  23. Vegas Fan

    Interesting take on things. Hoping Cassidy is gonna be a positive change for this team. The first couple seasons Vegas was known for being a very physical team, helped along by players like Reaves, and would almost always out hit their opponents . This past year we got out hit in every game minus maybe 1 or 2. I understand we were decimated by injuries and 500+ man games lost is nothing to scoff at, but I really would like to see us return to that physical style somewhat. That’s why I was actually disappointed when we traded Reaves. I’m aware he’s not at all a goal scorer but he added teeth to our team. Hopefully we can return at least SOMEWHAT to that more physical style of play this coming season. Also hoping Stone’s surgery will have done him well because clearly he wasn’t ever himself this season and we need him playing his A game for our team to succeed . He and Eichel need to build serious chemistry and quickly.

    • VGK FAN,, Yessss!! That is a HUGE piece missing from the team. I’ve felt all along that PDB’S trading of Reaves was a dirty move– bad blood between Sharks ( CODE for Kane) and Knights. we NEVER replaced Reaves with another tough, physical player, aka enforcer. We NEED a guy like him again!

  24. DC

    Nice article, Ken-Bo!

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