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Tag: Coronavirus

Carp: Ready For The Future

**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.**

At some point, the hockey world will return to normal. When that point will be, nobody can say with any certainty as the coronavirus pandemic maintains its grip on the world.

But that time is coming, and when it does, it means charting a course for the future. We’re talking entry draft. We’re talking free agency. We’re talking salary cap. We’re talking scouting plans for 2020-21, both pro and amateur.

Right now, everything is at a standstill. There’s no junior hockey being played. There’s no minor league hockey. There’s no college hockey. There’s no KHL, and most of the other European professional leagues have either finished or canceled the remainder of their seasons.

The Golden Knights are no different from the other 30 NHL teams. They can’t travel which is fine because there’s nothing to travel to. They are going to have to rely on the work their hockey ops and scouting staffs have been doing since last August.

The good news? They have more time to analyze the information they have gleaned. There’s no rush to make a hard decision on a player. The majority of their work is already completed.

The NHL has not decided whether to delay the draft, which is currently scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal. In all likelihood, the draft will get pushed back. How long? Again, that remains to be seen.

But George McPhee and Kelly McCrimmon have an opportunity to use the data at their disposal to really hone in on a particular player and see what the pros and cons are. Scouts can go through their reports, rewatch video of a player and either confirm their analysis or perhaps alter a couple of things.

McCrimmon is up at his cottage in Manitoba and he remains in communication with McPhee along with his hockey staff.

The bottom line is the Golden Knights should be better prepared for the 2020 draft than they were for the first three they participated in. McCrimmon said Saturday the work continues despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The amateur scouting staff is an obvious area where we’d be the most impacted. We’d normally be getting our final readings on most players in competitive settings. But I think we’ll prepare very well. Our guys have been all over the world doing their work and we’re prepared. It’s hard to speculate. First, the world has to get healthy. We don’t know how the dates will fall in line. -McCrimmon

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NHL Players Considering Proposal To Play In August And September

Every day it seems like the news surrounding the virus is getting worse and worse. Unless you are actively seeking out positivity, you can’t help but feel like it’s spiraling out of control in the wrong direction.

That’s why yesterday’s news from the TSN Insider Trading crew came as such a welcome surprise. According to Frank Seravalli, a group of NHL players has begun working on a proposal to play regular-season games in late July followed by the playoffs in August and September. That would leave an “offseason” including the draft and free agency in October and then the 2020-21 season to begin, and be played in full, in November.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The plan is still in the “idea phase” and has not yet been sent up to the league as a true proposal but Pierre LeBrun says it already has the blessing of many players and at least one NHL owner.

Obviously, any plan to return to playing hockey and awarding the Cup for this season should be embraced with open arms by the Golden Knights (we’ve already discussed this), but this one is about as good as it possibly gets for Las Vegas.

First off, bringing back a few regular-season games would be terrific for a team that has little to no danger of falling out of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the games should have enough importance that they aren’t glorified preseason games. Hockey won’t look like hockey, and definitely not playoff hockey, for at least a week or two, so playing a few games before the playoffs will be huge in getting the game back up to speed.

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Carp: Turning A Negative Into A Positive

**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.**

There’s been so much to process this week with the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on our daily lives. In my regular job as editor of Gaming Today, our world is changing by the hour as casinos shut down parts of their operation, people are being paid off and the Las Vegas economy goes in the tank. It’s hard to stay on top of the news and frankly, it’s extremely depressing.

Not having hockey to watch and cover is also depressing. I won’t lie to you, I miss going to T-Mobile Arena to watch the Golden Knights and I miss the NHL in general.

But ultimately, this negative can be a huge positive, both for the team and its fans. Ken touched on it the other day when he correctly pointed out that the hiatus will allow Vegas’ injured players to heal up and be ready for the resumption of the season.

Let’s face it, the prospects of going to Minnesota Thursday and Colorado Sunday without Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty would have been bleak, especially given that every game is so critical. But with that no longer being a concern, they, along with Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson and every other player who is dealing with aches and pains, have time to recover and get themselves ready to return to the ice.

Of course, the other 30 NHL teams have that luxury too. But I would not worry about that if I were you. Your focus is on your team and this is a good thing.

It’s also a chance for newcomers Robin Lehner, Alec Martinez and Nick Cousins to get their personal lives together, stabilize their domestic situations and settle in. Imagine how hectic it has been for them changing teams and cities in the middle of the season and how stressful it has been for their families.

They can put this downtime to effective use and get their bearings in Las Vegas.

There’s also the possibility the Knights could get stronger and add more depth to their roster. The NCAA has shut down its hockey season and that means Providence’s Jack Dugan can make a seamless transition from college to pro if he chooses to.

When I talked to Dugan in January before the Fortress Invitational, he made it clear that his intention was to play in the NHL and to do it with the Golden Knights. I would be shocked if he hasn’t already hired an agent and has undergone contract discussions with GM Kelly McCrimmon on an entry-level deal.

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Positive And Negative Effects Of Season Suspension For Golden Knights

The NHL season is officially “paused” with the hope that it will resume sometime in the near future. When, or if, that will happen remains a mystery to all as slowing the spread of the virus takes precedence over all else. However, hockey will return at some point, be it in April, May, or much later. The NHL is not gone forever which means the Golden Knights will return to the ice and like every team will feel the effects of the hiatus.

Injuries

The Golden Knights were set to play in Minnesota with a pretty banged up roster. Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty were both on the shelf until at least the end of March, Alex Tuch has been out since February 13th and suffered a set back a few days ago extending the injury, Chandler Stephenson missed a game with a wrist injury but was expected to play yesterday, and Cody Glass had been ruled out for the season after knee surgery.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The hiatus is almost certainly going to last a month, which means aside from Glass, the Golden Knights should be as close to healthy as any team in the league when hockey does indeed return. Every team will benefit from the break but it will have a greater impact on playoff teams who were potentially heading in without a star player or two. Colorado and Tampa Bay stand to gain more than Vegas, but the Golden Knights have to like their chances entering a playoff run as healthy as they’ll likely be whenever this does end.

Schedule Format

There are plenty of potential options the league could use if the season does start back up with a plan to award the 2020 Stanley Cup. For the most part, any option will benefit the Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights were going to make the playoffs if the season was played out in full, but now, there’s essentially no format that will keep them out. There are really two options for the NHL.

  • Select playoff teams based on points percentage on March 11th
  • Return for a few regular season games before the playoffs begin

It’ll all depend on timing, but either option has the Golden Knights sitting pretty. As of the pause, Vegas is in 1st place by three points and .021 percentage points over Edmonton. Also, the Golden Knights have moved up to 3rd place in the Western Conference. A few games being added to the regular season could shuffle things at bit, but no matter what, the Golden Knights will be in pretty good shape.

Playoff Format

The NHL playoffs normally take more than two months to complete. The league may not have that kind of time this year. So, there are two choices the NHL can make to shorten that time frame. First, they can remove games from the early rounds. The first round might become a best-of-five, maybe the second round too. Instead of having to win 16 games, maybe it shrinks to only 14. The other option is to tighten up the dates on the games played. Play back-to-backs on the home games or when travel is light. The normal format has at least one day between every game and sometimes two. It takes two weeks to finish a seven-game series. The calendar may dictate needing to wrap series up in 10 days instead.

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Carp: Coronavirus Potentially Puts NHL Season On The Brink

**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.**

I got a chill Saturday morning, and not just because I was up in Reno.

The NHL is considering closing its locker rooms to the media because of the coronavirus and it hit me like a hard slap in the face. It made me wonder if more extreme measures are coming, like putting the current season on hold, or worse, canceling the rest of the year.

On the surface, closing the room to the media seems like an extreme move. Those conversations between players and reporters are important to the game. It helps connect the fans to hockey.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

But when you think about it, it’s about player safety. Granted, you would like to think that those of us who cover the league would be smart enough to stay out of the locker room if we’re under the weather. But when you have pressure from editors to get stories and you’re facing stiff competition on the beat, you usually put your health second and forge ahead.

That’s obviously not the smart thing to do but that’s the way it usually works. It’s the competitive nature of the journalism business.

Frankly, if I was a player, I probably wouldn’t want a TV guy with the flu next to me. And nobody knows who has or doesn’t have the coronavirus since you can’t get tested because there aren’t enough kits available and there’s no vaccine to immunize you from it. You may have it and not even know it. Or you could be sick as a dog with similar symptoms and not have the coronavirus and it could be just a regular bout of flu.

The NHL can’t roll the dice when it comes to the unknown. It has to protect its investment, which is the players and the game itself. But I’m not sure a “mixed zone” environment where reporters and athletes are separated by a rope in conducting postgame business would be any safer. Your proximity to the athlete is virtually the same as if you were inside the locker room gathered at his stall.

Some teams have instituted a closed room policy. Others are having a wait-and-see attitude. I imagine the NHL will have a blanket policy in place regarding locker room access, perhaps as early as today.

But make no mistake about it, it’s going to impact how teams are covered, how news is reported and what you read here at SinBin. Ken and Jason are daily visitors to City National Arena, me, a little less frequently. The amazing work they and the rest of the media group which covers the Golden Knights do will be hampered by this edict.

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