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Schmidt: Fleury Situation Was “Tough On The Room”

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Back in the days when the Golden Knights played games at T-Mobile Arena in front of 18,000 fans, the song “The Man” by the Killers would occasionally blare over the loudspeakers.

♪♪ I got skin in the game
I got a household name
I got news for you baby, you’re looking at the man ♪♪

That man for the Golden Knights was Marc-Andre Fleury.

When he’d make an incredible sliding save, stop a breakaway, or steal a goal with a windmill glove save, you’d hear that song, usually accompanied by a shot of him smiling through his mask on the big screen.

Fleury was the man at the Expansion Draft. He was the man in training camp. He was the man in the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup Final. Since the moment the Golden Knights got him, Marc-Andre Fleury has been “The Man.”

Then, he wasn’t.

Marc-Andre is a guy that I look at and he’s one of the best humans, the biggest personalities, one of the greatest guys and it was hard to see what happened. But you have a chance with Robin and he’s a fantastic goalie as well so those things are difficult. It was tough for the room. –Nate Schmidt to Sportsnet 650

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In the next 50 years of the Golden Knights franchise, they’ll probably never have a guy as universally liked as Marc-Andre Fleury. So for his teammates to see him placed in an unenviable position was always going to be rough.

Plus, it wasn’t the only thing that was “tough for the room.” The firing of Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly was incredibly challenging for everyone as well. Throw in the pause in the season, the bubble, and the pandemic itself and it becomes fairly clear the Golden Knights were set up to fail.

Sometimes, change is necessary. The results may have indicated that with both the firing of Gallant and the switch from Fleury to Lehner. But in a league with as much parity as the NHL, a few percent increase on the ice may not be worth the ripple effect it causes off it.

The Golden Knights should know this as well as anyone in the history of the league. They rode the “Golden Misfits” label all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in a year that most believed their talent level should have had them staring at the NHL’s cellar rather than the mountain top.

The organization has gone to great lengths to make the team better, and it’s hardly in question that’s exactly what they’ve done. But there’s been an emotional toll along the way, none bigger than the fallout from the benching of Fleury.

There’s no way to prove the exact empirical effects but professional sports are a binary business. Either you win or you don’t. The Golden Knights didn’t and hearing a now-former player share how tough the Fleury situation was on the team, it’s hard to believe it didn’t at least contribute to how the season unfortunately ended.

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@SinBinVegas Twitter Q&A – October 15th, 2020

70 Comments

  1. Kate

    that Last paragraph of the french Fleury article underlines the communication factor.

    “The best way to explain it is to remember that hockey is a business. I remember when I left Pittsburgh. I had conversations with Jim (Rutherford). He explained to me that I was getting older and that Matt Murray was the Penguins’ goalie of the future. He was to be the keeper of the future. I got the message. Jim had also told me that he would be looking to find me a nice place. He told me he would look at options and talk to me about them. I liked the approach, it was respectful. Yes, I was disappointed to leave, but I was leaving for a new challenge with an expansion team.”

    • Communication is a massive weakness in this organization.

      • THE hockey GOD

        anyone making millions and millions and millions would be professional enough to suck it up

        or as someone once said

        ” this is the business we’ve chosen”

        grow up

        • Shane Naka

          Regardless of someone’s financial status or net annual income, treating someone with respect and dignity is the right thing to do.
          Flower is a good person who donated from his own pocket to help the stadium workers during COVID. I’d say he deserves some respect.

        • Julie Thom

          How does finance come in to play, whether he made $10 a year or $10 million he deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. When PDB repeatedly told fans that both goalies would be utilized then to know he blatantly lied that has to be a hard pill to swallow.

          • Dee

            BIG YES; all of Las Vegas witness that of PDB; management lost this one.

          • Joshua

            Must be super tough to move from a mansion in Pittsburgh to a mansion in Vegas …… give me a break people are starving and out of work in this country

        • Tan

          You obviously don’t know about sports, and the fan relationship to the player.

          You sound like you don’t make much money and are jealous

        • Jenn

          It doesn’t matter what amount you make, how you are treated is huge. They’re people that do a job like you & I. I do a job and don’t expect to get treated like I don’t exist. Your blanket statement is condescending to say the least.

          Be better

          • Bonne

            In any job, no matter how well liked, revered, or what pedastal you are sitting on, you too can be replaced .

        • Jim Parilla

          Sir, you have obviously not spent much time in hockey locker room. Hockey is the only true team sport left and to win at the highest level you must have each other‘s back. Changing the Karma in the room is very dangerous especially when you’re winning.

          Losing your Coach, your leader, for One reason being that your new to sports, “pig headed” owners ignorance, and if acquiring a team killing head coach in his place isn’t bad enough. Then never mind the want-to-be new leader benches your goalie after a unprecedented layoff. if you only knew there’s no amount of money that they can pay you to want to deal with that good, bad or indifferent situation.

          So Mr Hockey God, stop being a ignorant fan, go buy yourself some skates and a case of beer And joint a beer league in your local area. Then you may re-think you comments when you have that experience to fall back on!

        • I don’t know who you are but let me say this MAF is a bigger and better person than you can ever hope to be!!

        • Regardless of how much money they’re paid, players and coaches are still people. This team is still very new, and has yet to establish a legacy. How you treat players and coaches now will impact who will join your team willingly, and who will want to return after their playing careers are over.

          MAF is going to be a great goaltending coach someday, if that’s the path he chooses. Question is which clubs he’ll want to work with, based on personal experience and reputation.

      • Sue

        I totally agree

    • jason mason

      How’d that Murray thing work out for the Penguins? At 25 gets traded to Ottawa and Jarry gets a new deal only to have Pittsburgh draft 2 goalies with their first 2 picks. I’d say MAF taking the high road in all of this might be better than a few people in management deserve.

      • Erica Lynn

        I agree!! I’m from pittsburgh and the day they gave the flower up was the day everyone in pittsburgh took a big gasp from immense disappointment. We knew Murray was not the one and that he rode the flowers coat tails through that season and everyone here in pittsburgh agrees. To see him sidelined with such great talent that he is , is sad. I wish we still had him. He has always been an amazing role model and leader here in the steel city with his charities and contributions that it’s an insult to hear someone talk about him because of how much money he makes and for him to suck it up. And to the guy who call himself hockey God… which only a narcissistic , arrogant and possible jealous person would call themselves. Well hockey God I hope your NHL career is doing better than his then. Lol.

    • ginny

      Well said. You have so much class, and that is why you are so loved and adored.

  2. Austin

    I think we all understand “hockey is a business” and all that jargon, but to excuse the humanity and the personal impact on these players is a disservice to them. We’re all pawns of the company’s we work for (with the exception of the self-employed, obviously) and although pro sports is an entirely different beast, you can’t tell me that your boss telling you “pack up your things you’re headed to *insert city here*” when you’ve planted your roots wouldn’t mildly upset you. So I agree when you mentioned that VGK should’ve let Lehner walk, as much as I like him as well, kept Fleury and strong arm other organizations like this management team likes to do, and find your future before the expansion draft. Sure, we’ve got some world-class talent locked in, but seeing that players are verbally upset at how this management handled this offseason, it will be interesting to see how this season plays out as far as locker room chemistry goes. You can only shake the box so much until it breaks.

    • Dee

      You can see the chemistry vaporizing. As Kenny Rogers said: “You got to know when to fold them and know when to hold them” VGK had and hopefully still do a strong culture-that’s what made them different. Go Knights Go

  3. Robin

    “Respectful” is definitely not a word that comes to my mind re management lately. McPhee has (had?) a long-time relationship with Nate Schmidt and hasn’t even bothered to have a conversation with him?

  4. Sam B

    Ken – I’d really love to read (or hear a podcast?) on whether given the same players as the Knights entered the bubble with, whether Gallant with that team (and penalty kill 2.0) would have done as well/worse/better than PDB?

    I know it’s hypothetical but I remember strongly a podcast after Gallant was fired and PDB brought in where you argued (rightly) that the front office had put themselves on the line through the move – that there were saying this is our year, we think we have the guy in PDB so we go for the win now and all else doesn’t matter. But they didn’t win, and as this article says, it kicked off a whole chain reaction (possibly making Flower’s performance even worse after his dad died and he lost both his coaches) so I think it’s only fair as a fan base now we look hard at that hypothetical.

    Because if Gallant could have done better…well…it’s not just new players we need this offseason…

    • Cody

      Too much change for no reason. This team was three wins from the Cup in year one. Who tears it all down by year three? Asinine. As Luke Skywalker would say, this isn’t gonna turn out the way you think.

  5. Arlyne

    Yeah, it’s a business, yeah there are gonna be changes. These players are human and deserve respect. I think the firing of Gallant was premature, and cowardly. I also do not like DeBoer or his style. As far as Marc Andre Fleury he is not too old yet. He still is the man and deserves his due.

  6. Daryl

    Everyone understands this is a business and bosses do what they have to do to get the results they want/need. The issue is how they go about it. There is a right way and a wrong way. As I stated before, in any business setting, employees work better and harder when they know they have the support and respect from their bosses. It’s hard for players to concentrate on playing their going and doing their best when they are constantly thinking in the back of their minds, will I be here next week? Will I have to move my family and explain to my kids why I am pulling them away from their friends? I hated to see MAF leave the Pens but at least they were very professional and upfront about it. Nothing like what we saw here in VGK

    • THIS ! The team was put into such a stressful position it’s a miracle they made it as far as they did into the playoffs.

  7. Tim

    I think we all liked Gallant but I think he got to buddy buddy with the players. During losing streaks in his after game interviews his answer was always the same no puck luck. Although Pete DeBoer came in and picked us up to win the Pacific division I would say 80% of the fans would still prefer Gallant. Pete being from the Sharks has never set well with most fans. The Fleury situation was a Cluster F@@k from the beginning. No Lehner shouldn’t of been a rental we need him and no as I am probably the only one that has been firm on keeping both goalies from the start and F@@k the 12 million cap hit. If people would have realized that Covid wasn’t going away anytime soon this would have never been a problem. If you know your history the Spanish Flu went from 1918 through 1919 so it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to think it will take that long for cover to run it’s coarse. So here we are on October 15th and were keeping both goalies in what might be a shorter compressed season when we’ll need two good goalies if were playing 4 or 5 games a week. This could have all been avoided if management had any foresight instead of treating Fleury like yesterday’s trash. Let’s not forget Fleury didn’t have a stellar year. You can say his dad died which weighed on him but my thought and experience when death happened with players I was associated with it was win one for the Gipper not go in the tank. In other words go out and show dad I’m the man and I’m honoring your death by playing my ass off. So here we are two goalies DeBoer has to be pissed and who knows what the locker room is like by not being upfront. Foley made the decision to keep both and I for one am happy. Foley never liked it when they traded Haula so if he is healed from his injuries it wouldn’t surprise me if they picked him up on the cheap.

  8. Jerry

    “Pause, bubble, pandemic, set up the VGK to fail?”…..everyone went through that, not just the VGK.

  9. Mikegron32

    Ken… you’ve went from being one of my favorite reads to now becoming nothing more than a million other Twitter account management bashers. You act like this doesn’t happen everywhere else in sports. How do you think Petry feels about Blues front office right now? How does Joe Pavelski feel about Sharks? Hell the Kings traded away the player that scored the greatest goal in franchise history.
    This ownership/management team has accomplished something in 3 yrs that will never happen again in sports history. And you want to run them out of town… all because you have a man crush on Gallant and Gusev.
    Do better Ken

    • If you don’t like what I’m writing, it means you don’t like the truth.

    • Daryl

      Pietra wanted a NMC and a NTC which STL refused to give him. That is different than what VGK has done. And yes, players get traded all the time but one thing that has been brought up is the communication and the way these trades have come about.

  10. This is not an organization that even remembers what you did for he yesterday. The stars all aligned with year one the way everything fell into place. The happening Oct 1 – the VGK coming on the scene – the city needing something to embrace – the team themselves embracing the city and their MisFiT identity – with something to prove not only to the hockey world but more importantly to themselves – created a bond and chemistry that will probably never be match again. Everyone recognizes it’s a big business and money dedicates all, however, there is the right way to do things and a poor way unfortunately VGK mgt has chosen the later. What the Hockey god ( notice small g as he is confused who he thinks he is ) wrote above is just another indication of why the world is in a heap /of trouble. Respectful is not a word they understand or even think about. Treat others as you want to be treated, while not a perfect solution certainly would be a step in the right direction. Business in general is a cut throat thing the big difference is whether you use a scalpel or an axe. .

  11. It’s a very, very tough situation for everyone. These guys build a chemistry, a bond between one another that lasts a lifetime. They defend one another, protect each other, then one day your bro is gone, a friend, a warrior, someone you battled with, it has to hurt. Foley wants to win, he’s a little older, he knows that he doesn’t have another 30 years. I appreciate his commitment for winning, but along the way toes have been stepped on, feelings have been hurt. It’s true, management ships guys out who don’t produce, Eakin was an example of this. We all love Fluery, it hurts all of us. We are so lucky, keep the eye on the prize, The Cup. I trust management, I’m hurt a little, but never doubt, our whole organization wants to win. Be thankful your not a Leafs fan, the haven’t smelled a Cup in decades !

  12. Tim

    I see some Ken bashing out there I for one like this site. Ken gives his opinion if you don’t like it call him out. This site is a place to vent or to just read the posts of other peoples opinions and see where there heads at. Ken gives us some interesting stats and analysis on Knights stuff I wouldn’t know. Keep up the good work and remember there are some people you can never please.

  13. Mikegron32

    VGK’s horrific treatment of players and staff didn’t have much of factor on where the biggest star on the market wanted to play did it? In fact why did he come here? Because he knew they are dedicated to winning and being competitive year.
    The next time one of the best players in the sport chooses Ottawa “because they treat their players nice” let me know ..
    Thanks again. I’ll be here till Tuesday. Try the veal

    • Daryl

      Not entirely true…. Pietra wanted a very long contract with a NMC and a NTC. He couldn’t get that anywhere including STL where he came from. VGK gave him everything he wanted. I personally don’t like his contract. I love that he came, but I think his contract will hurt us in the long run more than it does help us next year.

    • Mikegron32 – you are more naïve than you can imagine or just throw out comments to be heard, In either case the only reason players come here is management gives them something they wanted that they could not get elsewhere. Example – Lehner – elite per PDB – yet all the other clubs he was involved with let him walk either there choice or his – Stone – wanted terms and 9 mill no one else stepped up – the Latest addition Pietrangelo – wanted terms and 8 to 9 mill settled on 8.8. These players like everything else in this world is all about me first whether you like that idea or not it’s fact. Once they have what they want they can say whatever about how wonderful the organization is and why they arrived at the decision to come. Why not they got what they wanted!!! Management wants to win at all cost which is a disease that could come home to bite them. Only time will tell. Do all the fans which you are critical of want a winner certainly – is it the most important thing ???? – I guess it depends on the price. Wish you luck if your only here it Tuesday – have a nice trip.

      • Robert henning

        So then why did Statsny after being traded away still meet with Pet and tell him how great the orginazation is? As for Lehner his stats show he is elite not what PDB says.

        • I’m not saying it didn’t happen but this is the first I’ve read where he made that Comment… Would love to read more if you can provide the link

        • RH – tell me your not as naive as MG32 what would you expect the guy to say after signing a contract that gave him everything he wanted
          Come on he’s not stupid you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. It was an interview and he did what was expected. Do you honestly believe Stansty was that complementary after being dumped. If your that gualable l have a bridge for sale in Manhattan.

          • Robert henning

            And maybe you aren’t clear headed enough to realise that Statsney is an nhl lifer, whose family has a long history in the league and knows how some teams treat their players. It was the tradeded Statsney a long time friend to Pie who said this, I guess he’s a crap person who would lie to his friends. I linked the story from the NHL website…..I guess they aren’t very bright either.

          • RH – that is where you are totally wrong I am well aware of the Stansty family – my brother-in-law was from Winnipeg and played professional hockey. Say no more you are simply demonstrating how naïve you actually are. Do you actually think when Teit was asked a question like was asked he would respond and come out and say – Paul said the organization is a shit hole and has absolutely no respect on how they treat their assets. Like I said you don’t bite the hand that feels you. Besides you are only guessing what conversation took place and repeating what some reporter said was said.

        • Daryl

          Are you sure you copied the correct link…. I just went and read it and nowhere did it say anything at all that you claim it did.

          • Robert henning

            Here is the quote right from the article

            “I wanted to make sure that they’re sharing the same passion that I [have] for winning, and they do,” he said. “That’s why I made the commitment. I was fairly impressed with the way they operate and the way they go about their

            Pietrangelo visited former Blues teammate and close friend Paul Stastny. He said Stastny spoke highly of the Golden Knights and how they treated players and their families, which is significant considering Stastny signed as a UFA on July 1, 2018, and was traded to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

        • Daryl

          So there is no quote from Stastny or anywhere showing management spoke with him after the trade. What uiu posted showed that Pietra spoke with Stastny and Pietra saying he spoke highly of the organization. Do you honestly think Pietra would quote anything negative Stastny may have said considering he is now a Knight? How often do you ever hear someone talk negative about an organization after leaving unless there were major issues which led to the release?

          • Robert henning

            I never said anything about management talking to Statsny or a quote from statsny.I said that he talked to Petra as was reported and told him that. Those 2 are long time buddy’s, so I would think if Statsny had an issue he would tell him and we prolly wouldn’t have Piet here now. All this is cause 88 said he wasn’t talked to by McPhee who no longer is the GM. It could be tampering if he talks to him after the trade. Should have been McCrimmon that talked to him and let’s go one step further maybe they are unhappy with him due to the drug suspension and this trade has more then just how he played being a part of it.

        • Daryl

          I get what you are saying…. My point is though that even if Stastny said anything negative about VGK Pietra c wouldn’t mention it. And nobody believes everything or even most things are about about VGK. The part about Pietra not coming without that vote of approval from Stastny I completely do not agree with. The only reason Pietra didn’t resign with STL is b/c of the NMC that VGK gave him but STzl refused to do so. If STL offered it, he would still be there

  14. The biggest problem we have is that we hired DeBoar … He should be the one leaving not all these players … The golden knights played exactly like the sharks when they lost to Dallas … When gallant was here the knights came always our prepared on the playoffs and there was a game plan … DeBoar doesn’t have that plan which became very visible in those games lost … We played and lost like the sharks … DeBoar doesn’t know how to win a Stanley cup … Big mistake to let Lehner Play. Or gets the entire locker frustrated and 8r effects their play … But again , they keep him and let everybody else go … What a big mistake …

  15. Cindy Harrison

    First, I want to say thank you to Ken for his comments and reporting. I feel he is very fair and legitimately listens to each comment and then provides his own well-thought-out and insightful responses. Second, to all those commenters who say business is business, put your big boy pants on, etc. — what happened with “no communication” is NOT good business. That HEART matters in everything we do as human beings. Right now VGK probably looks great on paper, but EXECUTION is EVERYTHING. I hope as a team we can gel like we did Year One and bring home the cup, but I think it’s going to take a management that recognizes they’re building a team and not a collection of talent. So far, they are failing miserably.

  16. Tan

    You obviously don’t know about sports, and the fan relationship to the player.

    You sound like you don’t make much money and are jealous

  17. I couldn’t agree more. Lehner is fine and I have to believe the coaches are way smarter than me so I’ll admit better than Flower. But you cannot put a price on team unity. We may have ended up in the same boat, but I honestly believe the boys would have rallied around MAF – they would not let him go down without pulling out every stop. Not a one wanted Lehner to fail, but my bet is we would have at least put another game 7 on the books and most likely lost to TB in the finals.

  18. SandyMac

    It’s well known around the league that Gallant is a players coach. He shows respect to his team. It was a big mistake for VGN to pull the plug on that relationship. It really got them no where. MAF is a good person, solid. He’s a leader in the dressing room and in his community. So when you screw someone that lifts the team, it pisses your fan base. Professional sport or not, there are some fans that aren’t tied to a team, but to a player. MAF is THAT type of guy. Vegas needs to learn a lesson.

  19. dd

    Lehner is the much better goalie at this point.

  20. Tim

    Let’s cut to the chase if Pete DeBoer wasn’t the coach the fan base overall would be pleased. The problem is he has a 4 year contract so like it or not he’s the coach. Coming in not being part of the Misfits he has no connection and appreciation of what this team is. Consequently he can drop the hammer on anyone at any time so I’m sure the players are a little uneasy. It looks like the Splash Brothers are right in step with him.

  21. Miri

    I’m on board with what Ken wrote here, ss well as many of the comments. Just want to add one more example of poor communication on the part of the Knights. If my recollection is correct, when Oscar Lindberg was traded in 2019 to the Senators, according to the “Knights Insider” radio show, Lindberg was not informed by the organization, but rather his teammate, William Karlson, was the one who informed him of the trade at a training session.

    This was the first red flag for me concerning how careless, uncourteous, and disrespectful the Knights front office could be towards its players. I was hoping that this was an aberration, but as the examples continue to increase, it definitely seems to be a problem. Yes, it’s a business. But there are a few, if any, businesses that do not perform at a higher level when employees feel respected.

  22. Woody Sebastian

    One thing is painfully evident: when the change at GM from McPhee to McCrimmon, we lost everything the team was built upon. George knew how to do the job and how to build a ‘character’ team. I don’t care how perceivably valuable Kelly McCrimmon is, since he has taken over the team has spiraled and has looked like lying, conniving rank amateurs. We should have let the snake slither out of the valley and left a character GM in charge. Hail McPhee.

  23. Cindy Harrison

    To BONNE – and if you are any good at your job, possibly elite, your employer can still replace you anytime, but at the detriment of his team. MAF comes to mind…. Gallant comes to mind. Schmitt. Perhaps your ego (PDB, McPhee, McCrimmon) has gotten in the way!

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