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Tag: Wil Nichol

Rookies Will Give First Look At Bruce Cassidy’s System This Weekend

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke,

New coach, new system. That will be the main focus of the Golden Knights training camp when it opens next week. It’s not just the NHL-level players that are being drilled on the ins and outs of how Bruce Cassidy likes his teams to play hockey though. The Golden Knights plan on running the system as soon as in the rookie games in San Jose this weekend.

You’re not going to see his system midseason form, just like you probably won’t see that in the first or second exhibition game, it’s going to take some time and reps. But yes we are trying to implement some of the teaching points and some of the language he uses. We’re going to try to implement it as much as we can without it being too much. -Wil Nichol, Director of Player Development

The Golden Knights rookies, including first round picks Brendan Brisson and Zach Dean, and a few other NHL hopefuls like Kaedan Korczak and Ivan Morozov will play three games this weekend at the Sharks’ brand new practice facility.

Vegas’ first game is tonight at 4:30, then they take the ice again tomorrow at 2:00 and Monday at 12:30.

There’s a new system, so we needed to go over that. Especially for the guys who will more on to the main camp, we kind of need to know the system, so there was a lot of learning today. -Zach Dean

Cassidy’s system calls for keeping pucks to the outside, limiting high danger chances, and making zone entries difficult by stacking the blue line. Also, the hybrid zone defense is a bit of a change from the high-pressure overload style the Golden Knights are used to. But, both Nichol and Dean said it’s not a radical change from what they have been doing.

In the end, it’s hockey. You have the system, but you have to read the play as well. It’s not overly different, it’s a little bit, but you still have to play hockey and read the play. -Dean

Things like pressure points, where you pressure and where you don’t are the main difference. -Nichol

Typically, rookie games are a bit frantic, so it’s likely not going to be the best indicator of exactly how the systems will look when they are operating at peak form. Nonetheless, it is the first opportunity to start seeing some of the differences and keeping an eye on how VGK’s future adapts to them.

Development Camp Day One Interviews And Observations

The fist day of Development Camp is in the books and there were certainly some standouts. Here are our observations from the afternoon at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

  • Two players really stood out, one in each session. In the first session it was Alex Tuch. He looked like a man among boys on the ice. The other was Keegan Kolesar, the player acquired in the draft day trade with Columbus.
  • Reid Duke seemed to take on somewhat of a leadership role on the ice. It’s possible we made this up, but Jason and I both recognized it separately, so we are going with it.
  • None of the goalies really stood out. One in particular had a rough day, but I’m choosing not to say who it was because it was the first day of camp and that’s just mean.
  • Gallant’s role was somewhat secondary. Dave Prior did most of the coaching with the goalies, and Gallant stayed to the side until it was time to address the team in huddles.
  • The main focus from the management team, and specifically Wil Nichol, Director of Player Development, who said it in a media scrum, was to teach the players the culture of the Golden Knights. That mainly meant, take care of your business on the ice and get out in the community and be great people off the ice.
  • The Creator was present in the rink for the first half of the day before he took off for Montana. He was having a great time watching his players, talking to the media, and even taking some pictures with fans.
  • We spoke to a ton of players after the practice and there was a majorly positive attitude accross the board. All seemed to be pumped to be in Vegas, but even more so understood the expansion team likely offers them the most opporunity, and you could tell many expect to seize it.

Here’s our recap of a few players we were able to interview including Tuch, Kolesar, Duke, Nick Suzuki, and Jack Dugan.

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Mike Levine, Brown University Assistant Coach Reportedly Hired As Scout

UPDATE (9:31 AM 8/24/16): The organization sent out a press release today confirming Levine’s role as a scout as well as in player development.

We’re still waiting to hear back from the organization, but according to the Providence Journal Mike Levine has taken a job with Las Vegas as a scout.

We’ve reached out to multiple sources trying to confirm the hire, but have yet to hear back.

Levine has been an assistant coach at Brown University since 2013. He was the head coach at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, New Hampshire prior to that.

If the news is accurate he’ll almost certainly become an amateur scout focusing on college players in the Northeast area of the U.S. We will update this story the moment we hear back confirming or denying this report.

Vojtech Kucera Hired As Director Of European Scouting

From Washington Capitals Media Guide

From Washington Capitals Media Guide

It appears George McPhee is back at it, filling the seventh spot in the Las Vegas front office with the fifth person who was a member of the Washington Capitals staff when he was let go.

According to a tweet from Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas has hired Vojtech Kucera as Director Of European Scouting. Here’s the tweet, because I think stories look cooler when they have embedded tweets.

Kucera has been a European scout for the Caps since 1999 and was directly linked to the selection of Jakob Vrana by McPhee in the first round (13th overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

He was one of many players in the 70’s and 80’s to defect from Eastern Europe to pursue a career in the NHL. Kucera, however, never played a game in the league. He has retraced his roots to the Czech Republic where he owns the Ice Arena Letnany.

Kucera becomes the second scout, with Wil Nichol, to leave the Capitals organization and join McPhee in Las Vegas.

UPDATE (10:29 AM 8/16/16) – An official press release has been sent out confirming the hire.

It’s Not About Friendship, McPhee, McCrimmon Proving It

Superstar reporter, and quite possible the winner of the award “National Media Member Who Cares Most About The Goings On In Vegas,” Josh Cooper from Puck Daddy had a chance to catch up with our new Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon.

In the interview Kelly talks about all sorts of different topics from living in Vegas to analytics to running a business. One thing in particular struck me though.

I didn’t have a relationship with anyone in the organization. -Kelly McCrimmon, AGM

It’s so simple, yet so important. Every hire the team has had to this point, and every hire they make over the next few months, media everywhere will try to connect the dots to any prior relationships the new guy has to the people already on board.

With McCrimmon, the only connection we could find was that both were linked to the job in Toronto last year.

Since the beginning, there’s always been a bit of concern over what people refer to as the “Boys Club” where guys hire friends and other guys they know. In the rare case of having the chance to build a full organization, that’s not a great way to fill out a staff. The hiring of McCrimmon shows McPhee, The Creator, and anyone else involved are trying to hire only the best, even when it hurts other’s feelings.

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Wil Nichol Announced As Director Of Player Development

The first of the five new staffers George McPhee mentioned he has signed to contracts has been announced by the organization. Wil Nichol, formerly an amateur scout with the Washington Capitals, has been introduced as the Director of Player Development.

Nichol becomes the first of what we expect to be many former Capitals staffers that will make the jump to join their old boss in Las Vegas. Nichol was also the coach of the University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point hockey team from 2007-2011, a team in which he played for from 1994-1998.

Nichol pictured in the Washington Capitals Media Guide

Nichol pictured in the Washington Capitals Media Guide

With the team not able to add any players to its roster until June of 2017, Nichol will likely act as a scout working with McPhee, McCrimmon and the rest of the staff to be named before transitioning into developing players as the title suggests.

During his coaching tenure at Steven’s Point his team was 46-44-7, qualified for the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA) tournament each of his four seasons, and won a tournament game snapping a 12 game losing streak for the school.

His rise has been pretty impressive since finishing his playing career in 1998. He instantly became an assistant with Steven’s Point the following year. He then went on to become the assistant coach of the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League. After a year coaching a junior team, he returned to the Steel as the Head Coach/GM where he won Coach of the Year in 03-04. He was there until 2005 and sent 30 players on to Division I NCAA hockey. Then on to UWSP, then the Capitals, and now officially as the third person hired to the NHL’s 31st franchise.

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