We’ve pretty much all resigned to the fact that the next time we see live hockey, it will be played in an empty arena. With all the discussion of the NHL’s phases, hub cities, and the return to play scenarios, fans remain an afterthought in the grand scheme of completing the season.
However, that doesn’t mean that door won’t open back up assuming the spread of the coronavirus continues trending in the right direction as it has over the past few weeks.
During an interview on NBCSN, Gary Bettman alluded to the league keeping their options open for the possibility of fans returning to the arenas at some point during the playoffs “depending on where the world is” at that point.
With all the restrictions still in place across the US and Canada that seems like a pie in the sky idea, but The Creator seems to believe it might be possible much sooner than most would believe.
Fans will be watching it on TV, certainly through the play-in round. I’m hopeful that by the time we get to August 10th, 1th, or 12th that we’ve successfully come across (the pandemic) and we’re back from the dark side. Then we can start getting some fans in arenas and start playing at home and away. That’s what I’m really hopeful for but we just don’t know. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
Speaking on the Vegas Hockey Hotline on Friday, The Creator made it clear he is ready to get fans back in the building as soon as it’s safe, even if it doesn’t mean a full 17,500 capacity crowd we are used to at T-Mobile Arena.
I’m hoping if we take long enough that we may be able to get back to some sort of social distancing but people being in the arena, even if it’s only 4,500 people or 5,000 people. I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t be able to get to that point. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
Obviously, this will all come down to the health and safety of the public, but rest assured the owners in the NHL are not going to wait long once the go-ahead is given that fans can once again be in arenas.
As the pause continues, it’s no surprise the NHL is preparing for a severe loss in revenue. It’s not to suggest they would rush to play, but like most of us, the league is facing serious financial issues. It’s already started inside the league office.
Just filed to ESPN: the NHL is temporarily cutting league office employees salaries by 25%.
According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent them from making any layoffs during this uncertain time.
The NHL has informed the NHLPA that revenue losses could range from the best-case low of a couple of hundred million dollars to a worst-case amount of up to one billion dollars, The Post has learned. -Larry Brooks, NY Post
The NHLPA spoke with player representatives and explained the escrow share could reach a loss of 21% if the season and/or playoffs are canceled. Under the current labor agreement, it’s possible player contracts would be paid only 65% of their salary for 2019-20.
The season is approximately 85-percent complete. The discrepancy reflects a combination of the 6-to-10 percent of revenue generated by the playoffs and the fact that a full playoff would come at the cost of the remaining 15-percent of the season that would not be played. No wonder the players are pitching the idea of resuming the season in some form and playing for the Stanley Cup in August and September.-Brooks, NY Post
For a team like the Golden Knights who were expected to make a deep run, the pause takes significant money out of the players’ pockets. Playoff shares, according to the NHL are distributed by “A single lump-sum payment of $6,500,000 shall be made by the NHL to the players on account of a player fund, which shall be allocated to the players on clubs participating in the various playoff rounds and/or based upon club finish, as shall be determined by the NHLPA, subject to approval by the League.”
Without the postseason, players stand to lose a good chunk of change, and because of their escrow agreement, they stand to be impacted financially even more than the owners.
Players and owners split the NHL’s “hockey-related revenue” 50/50 (players get their share in salaries). At the end of the playoffs every year, both sides get together and count up how much money the NHL made that season. They then use that number to estimate how much it’ll make the next season (a five per cent bump is a typical ballpark guess). The salary cap, which is designed to make sure the players get 50 per cent of the revenue and no more, is then set based on that number.
But because it’s impossible to predict exactly how much revenue will come in, a percentage of every player’s paycheque is held in escrow until the money is counted at the end of the season (it isn’t always the same, but 15 per cent is a good ballpark number). If the NHL does really well and exceeds the revenue projection by a significant amount, all that money is returned to the players. But if it doesn’t, the owners get to keep however much they need to ensure they end up with exactly 50 per cent of the revenue. –Jesse Campigotto, CBC Sports
Yesterday the Golden Knights became the 31st team in the NHL to commit to paying arena employees for missed games due to the pause in the season.
The Golden Knights organization, players and Vegas Golden Knights Foundation will combine resources and planning to support those employees who may miss shifts due to the pause in the NHL season and pledge a minimum of $500,000 to these efforts. Leading the player contributions is goaltenderMarc-Andre Fleury,who has committed to donating $100,000. -Golden Knights press release
Previously, every other team had made an announcement except the Golden Knights. In a pair of interviews with Vegas Hockey Hotline and JT The Brick, the Creator explained exactly why it took a bit longer for his team to make their announcement.
We wanted to be very specific about what we were doing. A lot of clubs made kind of a general statement. What I personally wanted to do was to make sure we get the money to the people who need it. We’re actually distributing it to the people who work, directly. That way we know they are going to get it. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
We wanted to make sure we dealt with this ourselves, directly with the individuals that are working, to get the money from us. We don’t want it going through a third party. We’re making the decision. We know who the people are, we’re just getting our list together. -The Creator on Fox Sports Radio with JT The Brick
The tricky part in the Golden Knights situation is that employees at T-Mobile Arena work for a variety of employers. Many work for MGM. Others work for Levy, the company that handles food and beverage in the arena. Ushers work for a company called WeServe, and there are a few other third party companies involved as well.
So, The Creator says he wanted to take the middlemen out of the process to avoid any situations where the money would be dealt with in an unsavory manner.
For the third time in three seasons the Golden Knights made upgrades to their team. For the third straight year, the team went on to have immediate success with their new additions. The common message you get among the players are deadline deals can give a club a boost down the stretch.
It means the guys upstairs believe in us. When they add more strength to really go for it and see us as a real contender. That’s the way I see it. We’re going for it.-William Karlsson
Since last Monday’s trade deadline, the Golden Knights are 2-0-0, and have gotten contributions from all three acquisitions. So the question is, how much of a boost has the organization gotten historically after each deadline?
Post Deadline Success: 2017-18
Record: 10-7-3, 23 Points
Goals Scored: 56
Goals Scored Per Game: 2.8
Goals Allowed: 58
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.9
Points from New Players: 8 (4 Goals, 4 Assists)
Record vs Playoff Teams: 6-4-3
In 2017-18, the Golden Knights struggled right after the deadline, however they had won five of the six games before the deadline. Ryan Reaves had trouble fitting in immediately, but was possibly trying to do too much to fit in with his new teammates. Tomas Tatar pitched in with three goals down the stretch. Overall, the team was trending up heading into the postseason.
Post Deadline Success: 2018-19
Record 10-6-2, 22 Points
Goals Scored: 64
Goals Scored Per Game: 3.5
Goals Allowed: 49
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.7
Points from New Players: 11 (5 Goals, 6 Assists)
Record vs Playoff Teams: 5-4
Things were a bit different in season two. Vegas came out roaring after their deadline deal for Mark Stone. The former Senator added immediate offense and gave the team that two-way, high-level forward they needed. However, the team seemed to coast into the playoffs, something The Creator discussed on our SinBin podcast last summer.
Once we got Stone we immediately won 10 of 11, until they decided to take their foot of the gas. We end up with 93 points and we didn’t have home ice. -The Creator, 9/28/19
The trade deadline is three days away but the Golden Knights have already dipped their toe in the red hot defenseman trade market. Essentially on the same day as Brendan Dillon, Dylan DeMelo, and Marco Scandella were moved, Vegas pulled the trigger on their response adding Alec Martinez for a pair of 2nd round picks. However, there’s still time on the clock and according to the Golden Knights owner, the Golden Knights may not be done yet.
This (the Martinez trade) was our big one really for this trade deadline period. There are a couple of other ideas that are floating around with the pro scouts and with Kelly and George. Now we’ve got a few days. Might be something else happen, but this was the important one, to get behind us, to get a really strong d-man to help supplement what we already have. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
(The whole interview by Brian Blessing with The Creator is embedded below.)
At the Martinez announcement presser, GM Kelly McCrimmon was a bit more coy about the future plans surrounding the Golden Knights and February 24th at noon.
This was a move that we had considered for a long time and we identified this as a way we wanted to improve our team was to add a defenseman of this caliber. That’s why we worked hard to finalize the price in advance of the deadline. We’ll do a reset now, is how I would explain it to you, and then we’ll work right until the deadline on Monday to see if there’s any other moves out there that could help us that make sense. -McCrimmon
The Golden Knights are now very tight to the cap with the addition of Martinez, but they remain with a number of upcoming UFA contracts (Eakin, Reaves, Holden, Merrill, Nosek, Engelland) still on the books that could become trade bait between now and Monday.
The NHL trade deadline is a week away and it could be another active one for the Golden Knights. Since their first trade deadline in 2018, Vegas hasn’t been shy adding players to their already competitive roster. The first season Ryan Reaves and Tomas Tatar were acquired to give the coaching staff extra skill and muscle. On last year’s deadline day, the Golden Knights traded and signed Mark Stone who quickly became the face of the franchise. Needless to say, the players and fans are anticipating the front office to be calling and texting other general managers.
I’ve been on every end of that situation, buying and selling, or standing put. In terms of rumors you don’t hear too many playing in Vegas as opposed to playing in a Canadian city. On trade deadline having the TV on in here, you heard about the possibility of getting a guy like Mark Stone. I’m sure once we get closer to the day maybe we’ll hear a little more. In terms of what we hear with outside noise, we don’t as a player in Vegas and that’s a nice thing. -Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty has seen his share of deadlines come and go in his 12-year career. The 31-year-old has been on both sides of the scale, teams that were buyers and teams that were sellers. Even for a veteran the trade deadline period can be a bit stressful, knowing a teammate or potentially himself could be dealt to another club.
It’s a pretty crappy feeling when you get the day off and you’re all hanging out, which has happened to me, and everyone has got their phones on. Seeing guys drop like flies getting traded to other teams because your team is selling. That’s the worst feeling in the world and you never want to be in that position.- Pacioretty
That isn’t the case for Vegas, nor has it been in team history. Pacioretty and his teammates expect the Golden Knights to be heavily involved, even if a trade doesn’t materialize.
Earlier this month NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reminisced about the early stages of Golden Knights history. Bettman discussed the infancy of the franchise, how the inaugural 2017-18 season proved the sporting world wrong, and the emotions the players carried with them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals.
Bill Foley has done an amazing job. It starts with the fact that he was in love with the game of hockey, and he believed hockey would work in Las Vegas. Most people at the time thought we were crazy. We had done our homework. Finally, there was a state of the art arena that was built with MGM. We believed based on everything we knew and learned about the market… including a season ticket drive that we let him do, that this market would support a team. -Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
None of what Commissioner Bettman said is new to this fanbase, but two and half years later he still finds himself explaining why Vegas was successful from the get-go. Maybe it gets annoying but Bettman has no problem reminding sports fans that the Golden Knights paved the way for the Raiders relocation.
Now everybody thinks, ‘oh sure, we’re going to come Vegas too,’ well that’s not what people were saying initially.-Bettman
What mostly confuses fans of other sports is how the Golden Knights became so good so fast. Also, fans are curious how Vegas has maintained their achievements. Bettman went on to explain the progressive expansion rules that set up for a competitive team immediately. After two playoff bound seasons, it would be tough to envision a bad Golden Knights hockey team. Thankfully, this market didn’t have to suffer from the outdated expansion rules Atlanta, Minnesota, Nashville and Ottawa struggled under. Bettman learned from those teams early troubles and didn’t want Vegas limping from the start.
In every sport when an expansion team comes in, historically the leagues give a weak team to the expansion team. Make them suffer for a few years. What typically happens is the team comes in, there’s the initial enthusiasm in the marketplace, the team continues to underperform, there’s a dissipation of the initial enthusiasm, and about ten years after the team starts they get competitive and then they rebuild. We didn’t want that model. Since we have a model where every team can be competitive, why were we going to bring in a team initially that couldn’t be competitive? Therefore, we had the deepest expansion rules that I think any league has ever had. -Bettman
**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.**
As the decade comes to an end, it got me thinking recently about who was the person who had the biggest impact on sports in Las Vegas in the 20-teens.
I thought about Don Logan, the president of the Aviators who kept baseball going and was able to preside over the construction and opening of the beautiful Las Vegas Ballpark in Downtown Summerlin.
I thought about Mark Davis, who decided to bring his Raiders here from Oakland rather than return to Southern California.
There was Jim Murren of the MGM who built T-Mobile Arena and brought the WNBA to town. There was Brent Lashbrook, who brought professional soccer back to Las Vegas.
I couldn’t ignore Pat Christenson, the president of Las Vegas Events who was able to keep the National Finals Rodeo here and has positioned the city to host NCAA championships in the next decade.
But of the short list of candidates, there really was only one person who belongs at the top:
The man responsible for bringing major league professional sports to town and who has made the Golden Knights a worldwide brand in three years is my Las Vegas Sports Figure of the Decade.
When Foley first thought about buying a hockey team in 2014, few, if any of you knew of him. He was living in Florida as chairman of Fidelity National Financial. He had numerous businesses in Montana, California and abroad.
Nobody knew much about Foley. He had been paired with the Maloof brothers by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to investigate the possibility of the league expanding to Las Vegas.
You know the rest of the story.
But Foley is significant for more than just bringing hockey to Southern Nevada. He is responsible for the vision that is the Golden Knights, from the culture to the distinctive logo, to the marketing and the colors and the blueprint for success that he devised and stuck with.
He has hired the right people on both the hockey side and the business side and allowed them to do their jobs. Yes, he is involved but he’s not your typical meddlesome owner. He trusts George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon. He trusts Kerry Bubolz and Brian Killingsworth. He trusts Gerard Gallant.
He has given his players everything they need to succeed and then some. A lot of it never makes it to the public’s eye but ask anyone who has played here and you won’t hear a negative word about Bill Foley.
He also justified Bettman’s faith in him. Remember, the NHL was considering Quebec City along with Las Vegas in 2016. You may also remember Foley asked you to put down deposits for season tickets on a team that didn’t even exist the February before. So there were no guarantees that this would happen.
But Bettman’s instincts proved right. Foley was the person to lead expansion into Las Vegas. And he has delivered virtually every time.
He is a personable chap. He’s friendly. He appreciates and loves the fan base and they love him back. He’s accessible to the media. In short, he’s not your typical billionaire owner.
He’s also a man who gets it. When the horrible events of Oct. 1, 2017 unfolded down the street from T-Mobile Arena, Foley mobilized his organization, pivoted 180 degrees and put on the appropriate pregame ceremony to honor the 58 victims nine days later. That West Point education served him well in that moment. He was a true leader.
He’s also proven to be a decent actor. The team has featured him in a couple of videos and I’m not sure how many NHL owners would be willing to do that. Or any professional sports owner for that matter.
But that’s Foley. He never takes himself too seriously.
What he does take seriously is winning. Any time this team loses, it doesn’t sit well with him. He’s proud of the inaugural season and the run to the Stanley Cup Final. But it still pains him to have seen Alex Ovechkin skate around the T with the Cup.
He’ll always be bitter about the way the team’s season ended in Year Two. No amount of apologies from the league will ever change that.
He will spend money to improve his roster. He will reward his players by paying them well. He gives McPhee and McCrimmon what they need to be successful in terms of hiring staff. That’s what a good owner is supposed to do.
And spend he did. He put his money where his mouth was: a then-record $500 million to join the NHL. And he didn’t even blink in doing so. He had faith in the Las Vegas market and he was rewarded.
And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, look what Seattle is doing as it prepares to join the league as its 32nd team in 2021. It’s as though it used the Foley-VGK playbook in structuring its operations.
So as we head to the Twenties, will the “Cup in Six” prediction made by Foley three years ago come to fruition? Will it take longer? Will it ever happen?
The hockey gods will likely determine that. But one thing I know — with Bill Foley owning this team, I like the Golden Knights’ chances of winning the Cup more than I think they won’t.
With that said, Foley does have some explaining to do on one matter — when’s Ken going to be able to purchase his VGK third jersey? But don’t let that preclude the man we call “The Creator” here in SinBin Land from getting the accolades he so richly deserves. He’s Vegas’ Sports Figure of the Decade, third jersey or not.
**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**
There are 66 days left before the clock strikes midnight (technically noon) on the NHL’s open trade season. February 24th is the NHL’s trade deadline and like they have been each of the first two years, the Golden Knights are expected to be busy.
We were tight on the cap, but now we’re kind of clear. If we do things right we’ll be in good shape at the trade deadline to do something interesting. We’ll see what the opportunities are. We have a need in one particular area that I’m sure George is going to try and fill. –The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
Speculation is sure to run rampant between now and then but the most likely “need” for the Golden Knights is an upgrade on the back end.
We’re accruing cap space every day right now, not a lot… so there could be something happening (at the deadline) but not a Mark Stone type happening… Then we want to try and start building cap space. We really do, we want to have more cap space. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
There is one key caveat the Golden Knights like to stick to though.
George and Kelly won’t give up assets for a rental. It just doesn’t happen. They want a player that’s going to be with our team for a long time. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
If we bring someone in at the trade deadline we’re going to want to have a contract with him. If we want that person we’ll want a longer-term deal as part of the transaction. -The Creator on Vegas Hockey Hotline
This doesn’t completely mean the upcoming UFA’s are completely off the table for the Golden Knights, but it does mean the net will be cast a little wider.
The Golden Knights are expected to have their pro scouting staff in house in early January to start preparing for February 24th. From that point on, expect the Golden Knights to be active on the rumor mill looking for that final piece to push them across the finish line this season.
**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.**
Among the 18,188 in attendance Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena for the Golden Knights-Nashville game was the general manager of the Seattle NHL franchise.
I assume Ron Francis was taking careful notes, both from what he was watching on the ice and what he was seeing inside The Fortress.
He would be wise to do both.
Also in attendance Tuesday, and nearly as conspicuous, was the NHL commissioner.
Yes, Gary Bettman was in the house and he kept a low profile, lest he get the crap booed out of him by the Medieval Maniacs who may never forgive him for the performance of his officials in Game 7 of the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last April.
Do Knights fans have long memories? Hell yes they do.
What was Bettman doing in Las Vegas? He was a speaker at a symposium on sports betting at the Global Gaming Expo Wednesday morning at the Sands Expo and Convention Center. He was in good spirits and rightly so, given nobody booed him and no one asked him about officiating or concussions and CTE.
He was asked about the success of the Golden Knights and what it has meant for the NHL in the team’s brief existence. He was quick with his responses, praising Bill Foley for the job he and his organization have done (Sorry Ken, Bettman did not refer to Foley as “The Creator”).
I asked him if Francis should be paying close attention to what goes on here at T-Mobile.
Seattle is its own market. I think the experience inside T-Mobile Arena is consciousness-raising. But we all know what works in Las Vegas doesn’t necessarily work elsewhere. Seattle is going to have the same opportunities in the Expansion Draft and everything is on schedule and we expect Seattle will be another fantastic NHL experience. -Bettman
For Bettman and the NHL, the growth of sports betting throughout the U.S. is an opportunity to help develop new fans and give existing hockey fans more options to connect to the game. It’s a far cry from 20 years ago when then-Mayor Oscar Goodman paid Bettman a visit in his mid-Manhattan office in an attempt to secure a franchise for Las Vegas and got the cold shoulder.
But timing is everything. The building of a first-class arena, the growth of the area’s population and rising media market and an owner who was willing to put up half a billion bucks all helped change Bettman’s mind. He became an advocate for Las Vegas and had he not backed Foley’s bid, Las Vegas might’ve been Quebec City on the outside looking in.