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Vadim Shipachyov Describes His Time In Vegas “Like A Terrible Dream”

The only player to ever retire as a Golden Knight is back in the news dropping bombs on the Vegas coaching staff, his agent, and even the city of Las Vegas. Vadim Shipachyov did an interview with Sports-Express.ru which touched on a myriad of topics surrounding his time in Vegas including how and why it all came to an end.

Note: The interview was conducted and printed in Russian so the translations are a bit rough.

I forgot everything that happened last season, like a terrible dream. -Vadim Shipachyov

Shipachyov signed with the Golden Knights on May 4th, more than a month prior to the Expansion Draft. When Vegas’ roster was set, Shipachyov’s two-year $9 million contract had the KHL import as the highest paid center on the team. When he arrived in Vegas, a few weeks before training camp, he was expected to be the Golden Knights’ top line center, and when camp got underway, the eventual Jack Adams winner slotted him on a line with Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith.

In a lose lose situation, the Golden Knights somehow won. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Shipachyov remained on that line through most of the preseason but was left off the Golden Knights opening day roster in Dallas. At the time it was described as a numbers move. Shipachyov was waiver exempt, so he could be sent to the AHL without the possibility of being picked up by another team, which allowed McPhee to protect players like Griffin Reinhart, Jason Garrison, and Calvin Pickard. Shipachyov did not report to the AHL, but McPhee said the team was okay with it. Then, Marchessault and Erik Haula were both injured in the same game. Both were placed on the IR and two NHL roster spots were open. McPhee recalled Shipachyov (and Alex Tuch) and he was played as the center of the third line with Tuch and Brendan Leipsic. Shipachyov played in three games, saw the ice for a total of 32 minutes, and scored one goal. When Marchessault returned from injury, McPhee chose to keep Tuch rather than Shipachyov, and this time Shipachyov was expected to report to the AHL.

He did… for one practice. Then he left and was formally suspended by the team. McPhee allowed his agent to seek out a trade but no agreement was found. Shipachyov then “voluntarily” retired, effectively ending his contract and taking his salary off the Golden Knights books. Shipachyov returned to Russia to his former team, SKA St. Petersburg. By the time the KHL season closed, Shipachyov had fallen out of the starting lineup and was a healthy scratch on the Olympic Athletes of Russia team that won the gold medal. He was not offered a contract by SKA St. Petersburg and will play this season with a lesser team in Dynamo Moscow. “Terrible dream” probably puts it politely.

Yes, a lot of things were written about me. I do not even want to understand it. There was too much untruth. -Shipachyov

Another portion of the Shipachyov “terrible dream” was a mishap at the time he originally signed with the Golden Knights. On May 4th, his contract was announced and he was introduced as a Golden Knight. On May 6th, the contract was voided by the NHL and had to be re-submitted. Reports as to why were that the contract included a “no move” or “no trade” clause that Shipachyov was not eligible for. In other words, Shipachyov and his agent were focused on one thing, making sure Vadim played in the NHL. When he was sent to the AHL, and told he had to report, he less than pleased.

Let’s say I did not know for sure that if you come in the first year, you can send him to the AHL for an indefinite period. Do you know how they explained to me? Like, go to the AHL, where you will earn even more than in the NHL since the contract is one-sided, and the escrow does not need to be paid. I did not understand this because I did not go to the NHL for money. I’m not interested in playing in the AHL. -Shipachyov

It is correct, playing in the AHL on a contract like Shipachyov’s would indeed have earned him more money, but that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to play in the NHL.

When I played three matches, I thought that in the future it will be better. I was ready to be on the ice for ten minutes, in the third or fourth lines. I did not see anything terrible in this. I understood very well that I still needed to get used to the NHL, to adapt. Still, I’ve never played in such a league. And if I were given this time, then I would be used to it. It is clear that in North America the game is played with more power and less space. But I felt I was progressing. -Shipachyov

Gallant and/or McPhee disagreed. However, Shipachyov doesn’t believe he was ever told the truth.

Yes, we constantly talked with the head coach, with an assistant. But you know how it is in America. “Vadim, we are satisfied with everything, then you are growing great, everything is great.” And then they tell me that I’m not needed. (In Russia) they tell you what’s unhappy, they’ll say it in person, and you start working on some things. -Shipachyov

So, he couldn’t play in the NHL and he wouldn’t play in the AHL. The next option was to seek a trade. That sounded fine, until Shipachyov realized he would be stuck in the AHL until McPhee okayed a deal.

Then when another player (Marchessault) returned from injury, I started having problems. The next day I was told that I can go where I want to go. They were going to trade me. It was said so. The trade can happen either tomorrow, or in a month, or even later. I thought that I absolutely do not want to waste time, to wait for some decision, which, moreover, is still unknown when it would be accepted. Back in Russia, I would play at the Olympics. -Shipachyov

That’s why he retired. It wasn’t about money. It was about playing time, in the NHL, something he hadn’t earned in Vegas, and Gallant was not going to just hand it to him.

If a trade came up right away, he may have gone and played somewhere else because he didn’t mince words on how he felt about living in Las Vegas.

In Vegas, it’s hard to live. You can come here for a week for fun, but it’s impossible to live. We rented a house in a good, I thought, neighborhood, but there’s nothing there, and there is no one. You go out into the street, it’s empty, as if you live alone in this village. Once I took the children to the water park – I had to go through the casino. So I had to clamp my nose with my hands so that they would not inhale thick tobacco smoke. Well, yes, there is the Strip, it is possible to walk along it one way and the other. So what? Gambling does not interest me at all, and there’s nothing more there. -Shipachyov

He also immigrated, with his family, about a month before the worst tragedy in city history. 1 October was unsettling as well.

It was very unpleasant. But this is only one of many factors that I did not like in Vegas. -Shipachyov

Feel free to take this however you wish. Name calling of Shipachyov probably isn’t unwarranted, but here’s the truth, to the best of our knowledge.

The Golden Knights expected to be getting a high-end player. That’s not what they got. Instead, they got a player that admittedly needed to develop his game to fit the North American style. A disagreement over where and how that would happen is what ultimately sent Shipachyov back to Russia. A lot was likely lost in translation, but even if it weren’t, the honest truth was probably not completely conveyed by both sides at all times. So it ended as ugly as it could, with the player leaving and a team wasting an asset other NHL teams coveted. Now, he appears bitter, but the bitterness is probably not one-sided. No one won in the Vadim Shipachyov/Golden Knights saga. It’s over now, and things worked out much better for the Golden Knights than they did Vadim Shipachyov.

I’m glad that I came back, although I’m a little upset that it all happened. From Vegas I brought only the puck (his first goal), which I’ve since abandoned. But a negative experience helps all to realize and appreciate how everything was going in St. Petersburg. -Shipachyov

Let’s just say, Vadim Shipachyov isn’t the Golden Knights greatest ambassador. However, that doesn’t mean his advice for Nikita Gusev, a former linemate and Golden Knights prospect, would be to avoid Vegas at all costs.

Listen, any hockey player who wants to go to the NHL, I advise you to go and try. My example is not revealing. In addition, I was not able to adapt there to some everyday moments. Perhaps another person will find these problems unimportant. -Shipachyov

Hopefully the Golden Knights learned a few lessons too.

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25 Comments

  1. Albert Powers

    Sounds like, exactly what it was. He wanted to be gauranteed a spot while he was working on his game. But that’s not how most pro NHL teams operate. Gotta prove yourself in the minors.

  2. Arrogant. Glad he is gone.

  3. bob

    Just another example of all the right things the management accomplished last year. I am guessing the Olympic team did not know what they were doing either.

  4. Jaydt

    Probably not going to do us many favors in recruiting future Russian players.

  5. RJ

    The Shipachyov saga is definitely the ugliest part of this team’s first season. I’m glad to read his side of things, but honestly I’m glad it’s over and I’d rather not think about it much going forward. No matter what the real story is, it’s ancient history.

  6. Jonathan

    He wanted to be handed things and wasn’t a team player. Beyond that though, what is there in all of life that isn’t present in Vegas?! What does any other city offer? I’m sick of hearing nonsense like “oh Vegas only has gambling.” Vegas has the best chefs and restaurants in the world, it has amazing hiking around the city and public parks, it has no income taxes, it has light traffic for a metro area, it has almost endless activities from arcades and firing ranges and world class golf courses to some of the best comedy shows, variety shows, concerts, and even just wacky things to do like ride the High Roller or some roller coaster. If you don’t like the Strip, what would you be doing in any other city?!? Netflix at home, grocery shopping, watching a movie at theaters, walking in a park maybe, some shopping (The District, Downtown Summerlin), literally nothing special you can’t do in Vegas too. People really are idiots about that. The average city offers nothing but basics, whereas Vegas has all of that and way more.

    • KnightedByMidas

      Amen. That part of his quote rubbed me the wrong way.

    • Jackbortnik

      Well said!

    • Michael

      It’s subjective – nothing wrong with his opinion. I lived in Vegas 14 years, and moved to Denver recently and like it way better. People see things differently. He is also from Europe, where there are more people in the street (I grew up in England). America can feel like a zombie ghost town when you are used to seeing people out everywhere. It’s fine we don’t all like the same things, and I don’t think he is wrong to express that.

    • HawskFan

      Are you an American? This man was from another country. He wasn’t here long enough to adjust. There is more to NV than Las Vegas and there more to Las Vegas than the strip. He would have learned that had he been here longer. And the AHL he was sent to is in IL..cesspool of a state in this country.

      • Joe

        The guy was sent to Rosemont, not the middle of nowhere. The biggest issue would have been the noise with the proximity to O’Hare. With a one way NHL contract, he could have lived where ever he wanted around Chicago.
        Michael isn’t wrong about not seeing people on the street by their homes. I noticed that too when I first moved here 21 years ago. The majority spend it in their house or in the backyard.

    • Stephanie

      Agreed and Well said

  7. Jeff

    While I agree with most if not all of the comments here….you don pay a guy 4.5 mil to toil and find his game in the AHL. Management made a poor assessment of the player and offered him a terrible contract. Then he comes over and turns out to be a selfish player. Blame goes to both sides.

  8. Jason

    Just homesick. Was not mentally mature enough yet.

  9. MG

    And he walked out on my friend for a years rent on the beautiful house he leased to him. One months rent and back to Russia. Best thing that ever happened to the Knights was letting him go

  10. Athl33t

    Reading is tough, “he is not a team player”?!?! The dude said he was willing to play on the 3rd and 4th line. He was the KHL’s leading scorer the prior year and was completely understood he wasn’t ready. He is 100x better than Reaves, Eakin, Lindberg, and Carpenter. And as far as his opinion on Vegas, they were shipping him to Chicago every month so his exposure to our community and atmosphere was minimal. Gusev was the MVP in the KHL so it is the same scenario, let’s hope the front half office doesn’t lie to another talent and screw us over. See Panarin, Datsyuk, Anisimov, Kovalchuk…we missed out

  11. ILOVEVEGAS

    Just another example of a turd who has no clue to the offerings of this city. GOOD. Stay away. Me and my friends who grew up here and know all the amazing things there are to do beyond your goofy idea of what Vegas is (the strip), will be less burdened by your touristy ass. Please, do tell your friends not to move here. They sure can visit and piss their money away by all means, but keep your ass on the strip away from our beautiful local spots (none of which I will mention, for obvious reasons).

  12. Neil Shafton

    I’m not sure the franchise really tried to help him acclimate to his new city, his new house. There are a lot of houses for sale or rent in addition to a lot of houses empty due to various factors. New country, very little English and even with his family they felt isolated and alone. I can understand it was going to take a while to get used to a new country, new city, new climate and feeling alone. I also understand he could have asked, or if he did, did the franchise go out of their way to try and give him someone that could give him transition assistance. I understand there is also an expectation for an older player or a world class player that they believe because of their prior success in another league that would rate in-between the AHL/NHL they assume they have a space saved for them. Unfortunately someone didn’t tell him that just because they signed you to a pretty decent contract, you were not guaranteed a roster spot with the big club, you had to earn that. If these issues weren’t properly attended to, then there can be blame assigned to both sides, but ultimate responsibility should have been on Vadim. This is a good guide going forward for the Golden Misfits to be very attentive to, so that when a Gusov does arrive, he won’t feel so alone, and also understand that just because he was drafted, and had played in the World Championships and Olympics, doesn’t mean anything. You are going to have to earn your spot and you may be asked to play in a lower division AHL to get used to the size, speed, strength. skill and conditioning that is required to play in the NHL. Lessons learned by both sides, hopefully Vegas will be on top of this with all players getting accustomed to playing for a NHL franchise, along with transition assistance for players coming from different countries, especially those coming to North America for the first time, or an extended time.

    • Cappy

      Good observation. Does Vegas even have a Russian community? That could have a huge impact on a player if there’s no one around who speaks one’s language. GMGM knows that’s important and that English language lessons are also helpful.

      Probably didn’t want to find himself with another Alex Semin on his hands.

      • Neil Shafton

        Going forward it would be wise to have someone who works for the team to act as that person. A majority of NHL players who come from Europe know some English, even if it taken as a second language, and the ones that don’t will seek out or the team will seek out a translator and teacher.

        Geno Malkin came over knowing pretty much little to no English and although he has been playing in the NHL 12 years now, he can converse in very bad English.

        Every little bit helps, and perhaps Vegas will address this, maybe they already have, so the player is shadowed by someone who can act as both teacher, translator and transition assistant who can prepare ahead of time.

        It’s a given that someone is responsible to scout the city or areas where they already have a good number of teammates are living.

        Just knowing that they are going to be living among, or near teammates will help them get comfortable with their new team, new city, along with feeling more secure, less anxiety.

        The sooner they can have the player and their family settled down on the home front, the faster the language barriers can be improved, and the more familiar they will become with their surroundings.

        If they choose to leave their families back home, they can also ask for the team to assist them with placement options like finding a billet or seeing about living with teammates or members of the organization whom might be familiar with the city, and area which can go a long way to helping their adjustment.

        There is also the option of finding a residence for them to live alone but very close to fellow teammates.

        Here in LA, the Kings players and families all live pretty much in the same area of Hermosa Beach, it’s almost like a luxury house/townhouse neighborhood and a planned community so the players are around their teammates and members of the organization.

        This makes the team more tight because they are always around each other, and their wives/girlfriends/children are also supported by people they have become friends with in the organization.

        A lot of the players are also making LA their home so they are around all year having made that choice, further strengthening the support network.

  13. Cappy

    Dynamo Moscow, a lesser team…. Good enough for that Alex Ovechkin guy for four years, plus a stint there during the last lockout, bringing along that Swedish guy named Nick Backstrom.

    McPhee has a history with Russian players who don’t want to step up. He knows he can’t force them to get their acts together. Life is too short to worry about emotionally-stunted athletes who appear to feel the world owes them.

  14. harry kane

    thanks

  15. Vgk4life

    I truly believe he could’ve been a very talented player for us. A combination of him feeling he deserved an NHL spot and his family not acclimating to Vegas made it a complete disaster. I can understand his original feelings on Vegas as I felt much the same. I found some good friends and have since found what a terrific place this is, and I haven’t been on the strip in near 7 years. Next time I hope we as a franchise help a guy out some more and next time we get someone who is a bit less demanding.

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