Goalie controversy, this is the Vegas Golden Knights. Golden Knights, goalie controversy. It’s been six months in the making, but the time has now come for you two to get acquainted with each other.
The inevitable was put into place on February 24th when the Golden Knights traded then back-up goalie Malcolm Subban for starter-to-be Robin Lehner. Despite the words of positivity coming from the front office and head coach about Fleury’s place atop the Golden Knights goalie depth chart, his role changed on that day, and it’s devolved ever since.
Today, one day before the Golden Knights begin their second round series with the Vancouver Canucks, what went from a potential hazard lurking in the distance stormed into the forefront and is now here to stay.
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) August 22, 2020
That’s a tweet from Allan Walsh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s long-time agent. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but this one really only needs to be worth four.
Fleury is not happy.
This isn’t a new move from the Walsh playbook though. He’s always been very active on Twitter and has even used the platform to stand up for another one of his clients in a nearly identical situation.
10 years ago, Jaroslav Halak found himself behind Carey Price. Halak was frustrated and his agent took to Twitter to voice his opinion on Halak’s behalf.
“Interesting stat of the night … Price is 10W, 32L in last 42 starts. Hmm.” tweeted Walsh.
Moments later, Montreal was figuratively lit on fire.
There was a high level of frustration from Jaro over the fact he wasn’t being given a fair opportunity to play. The goal was to create a stir while at the same time directing all the heat on me. The key was that no one blamed Jaro for what I tweeted; it was intended that way. –Walsh to The Athletic
The entire story, which can serve as a history lesson for everyone living the Vegas situation now, can be found in this article in The Athletic.
Walsh later deleted the tweet, but he still stands behind it to this day. In fact, he still frequently tweets the words “interesting stat of the day” as a joking reference to it. The moral of the story is that Halak did feel frustrated, he did want to play, and his agent wasn’t afraid to make that clear in the most public of ways while diving in front of the bullet and taking the heat all on himself.
Back to Vegas, where we now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fleury is unhappy with the decision Pete DeBoer has made.
According to several sources: the Golden Knights met with Marc-Andre Fleury this afternoon and are satisfied this will not be an issue as they chase the Stanley Cup. I'd expect Fleury to address this with media tomorrow.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) August 22, 2020
Allan Walsh sent the picture to express a point, but he also did it to take the heat off Fleury and put it on himself, just like he did for Halak.
When the inescapable goalie controversy eventually bubbled over, the heat never should have been on Fleury, and now that it’s here, it shouldn’t even be on Walsh.
This entire situation was created by the Golden Knights. They are the ones who fired Gerard Gallant, Mike Kelly, and Dave Prior. They are the ones who hired Pete DeBoer. They are the ones who made the decision to acquire a capable starting goalie at the deadline when they already had one. And finally, they were the ones that decided that Robin Lehner, not Marc-Andre Fleury, gave them the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.
But, like Walsh had a motive in his actions, so did the Golden Knights. George McPhee was just living up to one of his all-time favorite phrases, “the organization comes first, the individual a close second.” Quite simply, the Golden Knights are trying to win.
They made every one of those decisions because they believed it would give the organization the best chance to win 16 playoff games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The outcome has still yet to be written, so judgment on the decisions remains premature. But, they had to know this was coming, and now that it’s here, they better have a plan on how to deal with it. Because, if the outcome isn’t the inscribing of Robin Lehner’s name into the Stanley Cup, the collection of decisions that led up to the tweeting of a bloody sword going through Marc-Andre Fleury’s back with the name of the former San Jose Sharks head coach written on it will go down in history as one of the worst gaffes in NHL history.