With media in from all over North America to cover what is likely to be one of the most emotional games in NHL history, coupled with the 2-0 start, the Golden Knights locker room was buzzing. But still missing from that was center Vadim Shipachyov. He was sent to the AHL, expected to rejoin the roster prior to Friday’s game, but that did not happen. Now, nearly a week later he’s still not with the team.
George McPhee held a press conference to give an update on his status. Here are the quotes on Shipachyov and SinBin.vegas’ best “translations” to help give the background on what he’s actually saying.
Vadim Shipachyov is still not on the roster at this point, is that a hockey decision or a numbers decision. -SinBin.vegas
That’s a numbers decision. As you know we had three guys who we could assign, and we did, to give us the room that we needed to carry what we are carrying. I do not have a specific date when that will change but we are working on things. -George McPhee
Translation: Shipachyov is waiver exempt, so the Golden Knights can (and did) assign him to the AHL without any risk of losing him on waivers to another team. Asking if it’s a numbers or hockey decision was to confirm that Shipachyov’s play on the ice was not the reasoning behind this decision. McPhee confirms this again later in the press conference.
Has this gone on longer than you expected? -Jesse Granger, Las Vegas Sun
No. We knew in the Summer that with Theodore and Tuch that we may have to send them down initially because we are going to have a lot of people that we are evaulating, and we are still evaluating. I don’t know how long it will take but I prefer to be in this position where we have enough people rather than not enough. -McPhee
Translation: As we explained throughout much of the Summer as well, the Golden Knights simply have too many players on NHL contracts to keep everyone. So, rather than waiving certain players, McPhee opted to utilize his waiver exempt players to allow him to continue evaluating the players on his roster.
The confusing part about this rationale is that three of the players he is likely in need to evaluating were inactive in both games this weekend (Griffin Reinhart, Brad Hunt, and Jon Merrill). Thus, how long this will take is still a major mystery. Of course, one injury would open a roster spot and allow for Shipachyov to return.
Have you been in contact with Shipachyov regularly letting him know what’s going on? -Granger, Las Vegas Sun
Through his agent yes. -McPhee
Has his agent expressed his disappointment with the decision? -David Shoen, Las Vegas Review Journal
Yep. They didn’t understand initially. But they do now. This is a roster move that’s not about performance. The three guys we sent down have all earned the right to be here. And we’ll get them here at the right time or as soon as we can. -McPhee
Translation: This is possibly where the reports of Shipachyov being unhappy emanated from. The original move was made on Tuesday of last week. His agent didn’t understand which likely meant Shipachyov would have been upset about the decision. McPhee returning to saying it is not a performance-driven decision while answering this question likely means there was at least a moment when Shipachyov believed it was performance based.