The Golden Knights have been to the playoffs every season they’ve been in existence. They’ve won the division two of the four seasons and tied for the crown in the most recent year. They’ve been to the conference finals every year but one.
But, none of it is good enough, and the front office’s actions have proven that time and time again.
From moving on from Gerard Gallant to shipping out lovable players like Nate Schmidt, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ryan Reaves to always being interested, and often landing, the biggest fish on the free agent market, the Golden Knights will stop at nothing to win the Stanley Cup.
In many ways, it’s everything a fan can ask for. Of course, it can be tough from time to time seeing all of the change surrounding the team, but in the end, the ultimate goal is to win and the Golden Knights are absolutely trying to do it.
From a player perspective, it should be the perfect scenario as well. Every player’s dream is to lift the Cup and see their name engraved on it immortalizing themselves in hockey history. It comes with a toll though.
Speaking in a recent interview on the Cam and Strick Podcast, goalie Robin Lehner explained the general philosophy surrounding the Golden Knights organization.
They want to win every year and they will do whatever they can to make the team better. If you don’t perform, you are out, end of story. If you can’t take that pressure you can’t play in Vegas. Because that’s what’s going to happen. You don’t perform in Vegas, you’re gone. –Robin Lehner on Cam and Strick Podcast
Lehner seems to have accepted it and even resigned to the fact that “it will eventually happen to me.” However, one has to wonder about the challenges that come with it for his teammates.
Many players on the Golden Knights roster signed long-term contracts expecting to play out the majority of their career in Las Vegas. They are all paid handsomely and probably couldn’t ask for much more in life, yet this harsh reality is always lurking over their shoulders.
Maybe the most difficult part is that it doesn’t take much to get a player, or coach, shipped out. Gallant had made the playoffs two seasons in a row steering the ship of the best expansion team ever. His team dropped out of the playoff picture for a week and he was gone. Nate Schmidt was the #1 defenseman for three years running. He struggled in the bubble in Edmonton. Gone. Marc-Andre Fleury was the face of the franchise, Mr. Everything to the Golden Knights. His father passed away and he had a tough few months followed by a pandemic break. Replaced and eventually shipped out for the contract of Mikael Hakkarainen.
There’s no doubting the motives of the Golden Knights front office, and based on Lehner’s quote there’s an apparent transparency that comes with it. One has to ask though, is this a healthy way to build a Cup-winning team?
They’ve done it again this offseason, which has further cemented the clarity of the management style of the Golden Knights. So far it’s led to massive on-ice success in the regular season followed by a quartet of disappointments in the playoffs.
Eventually, it must lead to a Cup. Otherwise, it’s just going to look cruel.