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Tag: Elliotte Friedman

Timeline – Robin Lehner Speaks Out

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Over the weekend the Golden Knights became the big story around the league and I’m sure it caught them off guard. It was probably even more unsettling as the club was bonding and preparing for the long season ahead up in Montana at owner Bill Foley’s ranch. The tweet storm might have made for some awkward moments at team breakfast.

Let’s rewind to earlier last week when outspoken goaltender Robin Lehner joined the boys at Spittin’ Chiclets to chat about an array of topics. As Vegas fans have learned in a little more than a year, Lehner’s honesty is refreshing.

Tuesday, September 28th – Spittin’ Chiclets Podcast Released

  • Lehner discussed his status in net and how he professionally handled the Marc-Andre Fleury goaltending controversy.

I respect what he did actually, he stuck up for his client. It screwed me a bit. It wasn’t the greatest time… It turned up the heat. It really did. This is probably the most pressured season I’ve had coming into this year. It’s fueled by the narrative of how everything was left and the whole (Fleury) trade.-Robin Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

  • Lehner also spoke about the Jack Eichel injury standoff with Buffalo and had heavy criticism for the Sabres organization.

I hate it. I know they put investments into us but I still think your body is your body. End of story. If Eichel wants to make his surgery and they are scared of protecting their investment, how hard could it be to have him sign a waiver? Is something goes wrong he doesn’t get paid. It bothers me because Jack Eichel is a world class talent. We didn’t always see eye to eye but I respect him as a person. Am
I saying this to trash the Sabres? No I’m not. If I wanted to hurt the Sabres I would have but they destroyed my ankle that year.- Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

  • The Golden Knights goaltender suggested the NHL has stale “dinosaur” type executives and coaches that control the league and push their agenda’s even though sports and the world have changed.

We’re all robots. Everyone says the same thing. I understand 20 years ago but it’s 2021 now. Am I going to tell a player to be open and honest now? I know a lot of people have but yes they’re going to be punished.-Lehner on Spittin’ Chiclets

Wednesday, September 29th – Lehner plays first preseason game

  • Lehner suited up for his first start of the preseason getting some important ice time. The #1 starter stopped 20 of 22 shots.

Friday, October 1st – Lehner tweets his feelings about the Jack Eichel situation in Buffalo

  • Lehner stressed that it should be the players choice when it comes to their body.

  • Lehner also shows disappointment with the NHL Players union and their silence.

Saturday, October 2nd – Lehner tweets picture of ankle from his injuries in Buffalo

  • Lehner accuses Buffalo of screwing up his ankle and pushing pain killers.

Sunday, October 3rd – Lehner calls out Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault for his tactics handling injured players

  • Lehner labels Vigneault a dinosaur coach and calls for his firing.

  • Lehner accuses Vigneault, the Flyers and other organizations for irresponsibly handing players prescription drugs.

Monday, October 4th – SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman tweets the league is aware of Lehner’s accusations

  • The NHL would like to have a conversation with Vegas’ netminder.

  • NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reacts to Lehner’s tweets and
    suggested players shouldn’t be forced to tweet out internal information. Bettman also added that the league has services available to players.

We take his comments seriously and we’d like in short order to be in a conversation with him so we can hear his concerns directly and we’re going to follow up to see what merit there may be to his concerns. You don’t have to tweet to get our attention. We have an 800 number people can call. You can call us directly, we’re an open book. But if he has concerns we want to hear them and see how they need to be addressed.-Gary Bettman with SportsNet’s Jeff Marek

  • Philadelphia Flyers coach Alain Vigneault responds to Lehner’s strong accusations.

I consider myself experienced. A dinosaur? You could say with experience you become a dinosaur maybe. But I do know I’ve been coaching a few years and I am tough, I am demanding but I care about my players. Through the years probably there are some guys who liked me and probably some a little less, but I’ve done it with the best intention (and) with respect.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach

  • Vigneault was confused and disappointed about the idea of him pushing prescription pills.

I was obviously very disappointed, as far as me pushing pills, I don’t need another income. I have no idea where that comes from. I don’t know what else to say. I have no idea.- Alain Vigneault, Flyers coach

Chances are the league and possibly the Golden Knights front office are scrambling to squash the accusations, but would also like to listen to Lehner’s concerns. Expect more developments to come down this week.

Golden Knights Have Helped Keep The Integrity Of The Game

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Before the announcement of the Golden Knights in 2016, professional sports seemed like a long shot in Las Vegas. Baseless theories of legal, local gambling influencing the outcome of games were used as excuses. When in reality, the thought of millionaire athletes risking their careers and future contracts to fix one game is, and was always, far-fetched.

Rewind five years, surprising to some the NHL took the risk and became the first league to crack the Las Vegas market. However, as revealed by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman the NHL is still concerned with gambling and the integrity of the game but has nothing to do with Nevada. The league proved that last week when they harshly punished veteran official Tim Peel. The last thing the NHL could afford was a corrupt official like infamous NBA referee Tim Donaghy.

There were deep conversations about how damaging it is to your league during a crisis of consumer confidence. The CBA between the NHL and its officials now contains specific code-of-conduct references: ‘Each official agrees to abstain from habits of intemperance, gambling, immorality or other conduct likely to bring himself and/or the NHL and/or the game of Hockey into disrepute or which results in the impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NHL games or the integrity and good character of its officials.’ -Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts on Sportsnet

Last week the NHL quickly nipped a potential controversy in the bud when the official’s hot mic became a major story.

Initially, the story had absolutely nothing to do with gambling, but because of past issues in other sports, the NHL made a tough stand to ensure fans their product is genuine. Without transparency, gambling on hockey could be eliminated, and sadly to say, the interest in the sport would decrease significantly, not to mention millions in lost endorsement money for the league.

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Prospect Of Five Or Six Year Flat Salary Cap Ups Urgency For Current Golden Knights

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Last year it was Erik Haula, Colin Miller, and Nikita Gusev. This year it was Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt. Cap casualties. Players the Golden Knights had to give away for basically nothing in order to remain under the cap.

The Golden Knights have been toeing the salary cap line for the past few years and it looks like that dance is going to get even more difficult over the next half-decade.

If the players owe us more money than anybody imagined, the salary cap could well be flat or close to flat for the next five or six years, and players into the future will be repaying what we’re owed. –Gary Bettman at Sports Business Journal panel

It’s essentially a threat from Bettman to NHL players that if they aren’t willing to make some amendments to the agreement put in place a few months ago, the cap isn’t going up for the foreseeable future.

It sounds like a nightmare, but according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, many are already preparing for it.

I think that’s what people are expecting. I think teams have been preparing for that for a while and even the agents are preparing for that. That this cap isn’t going to move anywhere for a while. –Friedman on VGK Insider Show

The Golden Knights certainly do not appear to be one of those teams who have prepared for it. They just signed a 30-year old defenseman to a deal scheduled to pay him $8.8 million per year against the cap until he’s 38. Along with lengthy deals to Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Alex Tuch, Shea Theodore, and Robin Lehner, the Golden Knights currently have nearly $40 million committed to just six players each of the next five seasons.

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Can Jersey Ads Save The 2020-21 Season?

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It’s clear the NHL is in a financial crunch. Unlike the other major pro sports leagues in North America, hockey is trying to scrounge up coins buried deep in couch cushions. The league and its players need to find ways to grow revenue and it needs to happen soon. Some have suggested the Seattle Kraken organization pay half of their entry fee now to help the league get through tough times. Others have suggested extending the postseason, but there’s one that stuck out as an easy, smart way to make a buck.

If I was a player, I’d be talking about expanded playoffs and ads on jerseys. Bettman has said in the past the number has got to be worth it. Something small in a corner but enough that you know it’s there. No more of this it’s tradition… It’s time. –Elliotte Friedman on 31 Thoughts Podcast

I tend to lean more towards the traditional side of sports. I don’t want robot officials, I can’t stand visiting teams wearing their white sweaters and I hate advertisements on team jerseys. That’s up until now. The 2020-21 season is on the line and whatever the league can do to make it work, needs to happen.

It’s true jersey advertisements break tradition. They can potentially tarnish an already perfect team sweater by making it look cheap and commercialized. Overall it’s bad idea, but in this economy making money is all that counts. Especially if revenue from jersey sponsorships can get this NHL season off the ground. Using the NBA as an example, corporate ads can bring in bags full of cash.

So far, 19 of the 30 NBA teams have teamed up with an advertiser… The Warriors are getting $20 million a year for three years for the Rakuten ad on the upper left chest of their jerseys… –Steven Kutz, MarketWatch

The issue with business sponsorships on jerseys is finding the right fit, for the right cost. Most importantly, how to make sure they don’t become an on-ice eyesore.

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Pietrangelo Signing Reaction, The Untouchable Reilly Smith, Kicking The Tires On Taylor Hall, Steven Stamkos And The Ripple Effect Of It All

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

It was the biggest signing of the offseason, changing the landscape of the NHL. When Alex Pietrangelo signed his seven-year deal with the Golden Knights the league wildly reacted to the deal and its effect on the franchise.

They don’t lack for boldness. The end of the road map for them, like every team is the Cup. Their path seems to be a lot more direct. I don’t know if it’s going to work. They’re dancing on a wire… The Stastny thing I guess opens the door for Cody Glass. If you take Stastny and Schmidt out of the lineup and just put in Pietrangelo, I don’t know how much better they are. I think Pietrangelo is really good, but you’re taking on two pretty important players. I really don’t know what to think of it.-Ray Ferraro, TSN on TSN1050

Another pundit, however, understood the mindset of the Golden Knights front office aggressive nature.

They’re a no nonsense franchise. They’re all about winning. That’s what Mr. Foley their owner is about. They make no bones about it. George McPhee is all about that. Kelly McCrimmon’s about that… They hate San Jose. They don’t dislike San Jose, they hate San Jose. When Pete DeBoer got fired by San Jose, the team they hated the most and probably the coach they hated the most they hired him because they thought he gave them the best chance to win. They’re about winning they don’t worry about all the other stuff, the window dressing. It’s not everybody gets a trophy in this league. They’re a hard edge organization.-Pierre McGuire, NBCSN to TSN1200

By this point Golden Knights fans are aware of the front office’s hard edge, win at all costs mentality. The massive commitment to Pietrangelo proved that, as well as the difficult decisions to trade Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny.

I heard the deal in Vegas was going to be 7x$8.5M. It came out 7x$8.8M. It’s got the no move protection. I’ve been told it has the protection that Pietrangelo wanted. The buyout protection later in the deal it’s there, in the form of a signing bonus. I heard it was a grind… I do think there were some other teams that wanted to get in on Pietrangelo but I don’t think Vegas was going to let that happen. No matter how grindy the negotiations got, he was their target, he was the guy they wanted. I think Vegas was always Pietrangelo’s first choice.-Elliotte Friedman, 31 Thoughts Podcast

Friedman relayed some of the information he gathered surrounding Pietrangelo and gave detail to why certain players in the organization were irate hearing their names circling around the rumor mill.

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Will Positive Tests Around The League Affect The Golden Knights Preparation?

Yesterday was a tough day for the NHL and their attempt to award a 2020 Stanley Cup champion. News broke that the Tampa Bay Lightning temporarily shut down their facilities due to three players and two staff members testing positive for Covid-19. The anxiety escalated even more when it was reported that Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews tested positive as well. Leaving fans concerned for the players and their return to the ice.

Locally, it’s been quiet. According to GM Kelly McCrimmon, none of the Golden Knights players have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus.

Since NHL clubs were permitted to open their training facilities on June 8, all players entering these facilities for voluntary training have been subject to mandatory testing for COVID-19… All players who have tested positive have been self-isolated and are following CDC and Health Canada protocols. The NHL will provide a weekly update on the numbers of tests administered to players and the results of those tests. The league will not be providing information on the identity of the players or their clubs. -NHL PR

With the latest news from around the league, the question around Las Vegas is how will this affect the Golden Knights and their preparations?

So far 11 NHL players have tested positive since June 8th. However, over 200 players have been tested multiple times and results came back negative. While the positive test news may sound grim, it doesn’t appear it will delay the opening of training camps scheduled to begin on July 10th. Even if more players fall ill, according to the league it won’t impact the Golden Knights groundwork.

The league had a conference call with all of the general managers tonight, and I think the word is ‘let’s see where this goes.’ I don’t think there’s any movement at this point in time of changing the opening of camps on July 10th. I think they’ve set it so the final day of the Stanley Cup Final, if it happens on schedule is October 5th. -Elliotte Friedman, SportsNet

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Games Without Fans Create Problems For TV Networks

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With the continuation of uncertainty, one thing that seems certain is fans will not be able to attend games when the league resumes. The plan would be to broadcast the games on TV networks like NBCSN, TSN, or Sportsnet and feed them across the US and Canada. League and broadcast officials are still trying to find the best, safest way to pull it off.

We’ve had numerous meetings with the league… The first thing that we all talk about is safety. The existing broadcast enviornment is not a place where you can properly practise social distancing.-Rob Corte, VP of Sportsnet and NHL Production to Sportsnet

The safety concerns are not only for the fans and players but the people running the broadcast as well. Sure it’s important to produce the best broadcast, but outlets cannot put their own employees at risk while doing so.

Live trucks tend to have a large video switcher, audio, replay and video editors, chyron operators, producers, etc. It’s close quarters. It’s literally on the back of a truck. There’s the possibility that you can offload some of those editors and replay operators outside of the truck. The switcher needs to be there. As does audio and producer. Perhaps editing and replay could be done back at the studios, but then you are only getting replays of whatever was fed to them, not of alternate angles. So it’s not ideal. -Shawn Tempesta, Las Vegas Media Professional

Local broadcast media pro and good friend of the site, Shawn Tempesta, told us broadcasting games will be a challenge, but it is possible to work around certain problems. Maybe networks will scale back, limiting the number of employees working in the same areas.

Graphically it will be tough. Usually each game has two crews, two production trucks, etc. You could see graphics handled at their studios versus at the arena. Or maybe what Olympics do with generic graphics. Chances are they do a bare bones, clean broadcast and move the graphics to the home studio. -Tempesta

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Hockey World Weighs In On Vegas’ Shocking Coaching Change

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The dismissal of Gerard Gallant and hiring of Pete DeBoer came as a shock to the hockey world as a whole. Here is how some of the most powerful voices in the game reacted.

He’s known as a good coach, a coach that’s beloved by his players. The players work hard for him. He holds them accountable but does it in a way that is respectful and not demeaning. By all accounts, he’s one of the best coaches out there… By anyone’s standards would be an incredible two plus years with an expansion team. How do you explain dismissing Gerard Gallant?… It seems knee-jerky too me. I just don’t like this. I don’t understand it, and I don’t I really like it. -David Amber, Sportsnet

There are other elements to this. You have a 75-year-old owner in Bill Foley who wants to win now. I’m telling you do not underestimate that factor in all of this. I think there was a lot of pressure from above here. I think there was frustration. I don’t think Bill Foley thinks about what the team is going to look like five years from now. I think he worries about what the team is going to look like right now. -Pierre LeBrun, TSN

They felt that their team was massively underperforming. They feel that with Pete DeBoer there available, a different hand can help fix some of the wounds there. They’re sloppy in their zone, they’ve been an inconsistent team. I was just surprised that a really good coach was let go given the position they are in. I don’t know that they would’ve made this move if Pete DeBoer wasn’t sitting there. -Ray Ferraro, TSN

George McPhee ran the Washington Capitals since 1999 and a lot of games were played against the Florida Panthers when Pete DeBoer was coaching there, and a lot of games were played against the New Jersey Devils when Pete DeBoer coached there. So there’s a huge reference point for George McPhee. -Pierre McGuire, TSN

There is probably a dark poem to be written about the impact that phantom major penalty call that in Game 7 last spring had on both Gallant and DeBoer. With the chirping going back-and-forth that series, Gallant called DeBoer a clown. Now their legacies are linked. -Frank Seravalli, TSN

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