Wow, am I EVER getting the itch to unleash a ton of draft stuff over the next month! As of today we are only a month away from what since 2007 has become my favourite day of the year. It’s not a humble brag, and I can’t stand people who brag up their stuff, but if you go back and read my stuff on the last three drafts I’m sure you’ll find that it’s legitimately some of the best draft stuff out there. I work my ass off on it, and I’m proud of it. And this year I’m doing even more, so watch for that and check it out in the coming weeks if you’re wanting to brush up on the prospects and what the teams might do with their top picks. But we’re not there just yet. We got a game seven still to be played in the Eastern Conference, and we got a Stanley Cup final featuring the leagues freshest team which is who I’m going to write about today.
Let me kick it off with this blog/tweet:
Oh? It’s stupid? Ok. I’m not pulling for the Vegas Golden Knights, and while I see why it’s very positive for the market and the league, I also see this as a potential disaster for the league, and have very good reasons as to why (which obviously I will lay out as I go on). But I don’t think anyone who sees it otherwise is “stupid as hell”. Hey, hacks are going to hack. I wrote a piece on here in response to I believe one of Lozo’s former colleagues Joshua Cooper a little over three years ago talking about how sad it was that I was better at this than he was when he was trained to do it and had wrote at respectable newspapers previously, and I was just a guy who hopes to get a break but really just does this site as a passion project. Well, I don’t read Dave Lozo’s stuff. Never have, never will. As soon as you’re associated with “Puck Daddy”, that’s all I need to know about your knowledge of the game. I didn’t read that, and didn’t read this garbage at all. It could be awesome and make amazing points. But his reputation is that he’s a total hack. And he does a podcast with another guy who has the reputation of being a total hack. And from the few people I do know in the media, they say that the respect level for these guys is none existent. So…not something I’m hot about, but it caught my eye and figured since I had a Monday off to do it that I would write a counter piece.
In fairness to that hack however, it’s not just him. Ray Ferraro might be at the other end of the spectrum for me as one of the guys whose opinion I value the most in the media. Now he’s the games top analyst, not a writer, but nevertheless his opinions are right up there for me with Elliotte Friedman, Bob McKenzie, Ron McLean, etc.
Only helps – fans/media complain about markets that don’t support teams, low attendance etc. Why does this make people angry? Maybe bc it exposes their favourite teams https://t.co/nZ4qqcywUo
— Ray Ferraro (@rayferrarotsn) May 21, 2018
Ray probably wasn’t speaking to guys like me when he was tweeting this. The only thing I’m “angry” about with the Vegas run is that I was pulling for the Jets to take it all. But by no means am I angry. However, for me and a lot of my buddies anyway, they aren’t embraceable at all. The media wants to know why? Well, let me lay out all the reasons some people have for disliking this run.
Too much to play with
I love how I seen a lot of in the last two days where media guys were saying “where was this outcry a year ago?” when speaking to how the Golden Knights got far too much for an expansion team. Oh, it was there. Maybe it wasn’t as loud as it is now, but it was there. They got teams 9th-11th best skater/contract as opposed to the 12th-15th best skater/contract like they should have. And we now live in a cap world. Why are we setting this up so they literally don’t have to go get any UFA’s or anyone’s bigger contracts?!? I definitely wouldn’t have hoped for them to walk away with nothing in the expansion draft. And I actually thought they should have got the top pick in the draft for sure. There would be good players with inflated contracts still available in the expansion draft who would have been good for them to grab. Obviously George McPhee did a tremendous job, not meaning to take away from the job he’s done in the least. But they were given far too many advantages when the system already was setup to ensure they could be competitive out the gate.
This team never went on an extended losing streak, hasn’t sustained a long or season ending injury to a key player, has barely had even AN injury since November. Don’t confuse their man games lost and what not with actual injuries. David Clarkson, Mikhail Grabovski and Clayton Stoner run those numbers through the roof. The former two players were never going to play with the team, and the latter was likely never going to stick with the team, as Stoner has always been a fringe player while the regular D corps for the Golden Knights either had far more potential (Theodore, Miller, Schmidt, Merrill) or were just simply better (Engelland, McNabb, Sbisa). On top of no extended losing streak, and hardly any injury problems, they literally have zero pressure. Every other team in the league has some pressure and some baggage. But for the Golden Knights as an organization, there is nothing. And when you give them so much more than you should have thanks to the expansion draft rules and allow them to immediately put together a more talented team than a few of the other organizations were able to roll out this season, it is such a massive mental advantage for this squad.
The Leafs last made the final in 1967. Think their fans have suffered through enough? The Coyotes, Sabres, Jackets, Panthers, Wild, Preds, Sens, Sharks, Blues, Canucks, Caps, and Jets have never won a Cup. The Oilers just made the playoffs for the first time in 11 seasons last year, and have now missed 11 of the last 12. Haven’t won a Cup in close to 30 years. Next year will be the 30th season for the Flames if they don’t win. Ducks, Canes, Stars have only won it once. Rangers have only won once since 1940. Islanders have been mostly absolute garbage since winning four straight in the early 80’s, and it’s now been 35 years for them. If you’re a fan of ANY of these teams, how do you feel good for Vegas? And hey, a lot of fans of these teams do feel good for Vegas. But I don’t get it. Another aspect to the resentment of this for me anyway is knowing how giddy Gary Bettman is getting over this. This is his dream, and why he stacked the deck for Vegas compared to other expansion teams. He believes complete parity is the ultimate for the NHL. This is why games are officiated the way they are, this is why we’ve never moved to a three point system, this is why we have a cap (not that a cap is bad), this is why he does such an awful job of marketing the games top stars. He believes parity is the ticket for the league, and he has pissed on Winnipeg as a market more than a few times. So this last round in particular was annoying from that standpoint knowing how aroused it was making that schmuck that Vegas knocked off Winnipeg.
They’re winning “mostly goalie” more so than hockey
Last 103 NHL playoff match ups:
63% of the time the team with the starting goalie who had the better all situation SV% in the regular season wins the series.
Hockey should be called Mostly Goalie.
— Woodguy (@Woodguy55) May 21, 2018
Can we just all be honest about this? If the game is played five on five with empty nets, they’re likely nowhere near here. OBVIOUSLY that isn’t hockey, but the point is that we’ve seen this story a million times in the playoffs and that’s all this actually is again which is a team riding a hot goalie. In this case, the highest save percentage in the HISTORY OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS!!! (minimum 10 games played) Let’s not pretend that this “plucky, hard working bunch of nobodies” are filling the net and playing some of the most exciting hockey we’ve ever seen. They’re playing counter attack hockey, sitting on leads, taking very few if any chances, and looking to ensure every shift that their goaltender sees the weakest shots on goal possible. This was the 2012 Arizona Coyotes, and I don’t recall ANYONE raving about how great for hockey that run was.
One run doesn’t equal success
The Golden Knights are probably winning the Cup. And that’s obviously great for the market. Starting off white hot is vital for them with the Raiders coming to town next, and now talk of an MLB and NBA team likely on the horizon. But what happens if they miss the playoffs the next three seasons, and both the 2020 and 2021 seasons they’re near the bottom of the league? What happens? I’ll tell you what happens. The spoiled fan base is going to say “fuck this” and not go. Give kids ice cream for supper for a year, and it’s so weird how they get cranky once that goes away. Remember the 1996 Florida Panthers? Of course you don’t. How’s hockey been doing in Miami since the Panthers went on a very similar run in 96? I’m going to GUESS that there was a pretty similar sentiment in the media at that time. “Isn’t this great?! Hockey in South Florida, amazing city, nobody saw this coming, look at all the rats that get tossed on the ice, the NHL is going to be a force in Miami for years to come!!!” The Panthers attendance only went up by less than 1500 people the next season. The biggest attendance numbers the Panthers had were in 1999, the year they move into their new arena. So if the Golden Knights maintain a high level of success, THEN this is worth it. It’s all for not though if they come crashing back down to earth next season. And I don’t think its far fetched to suggest this could be a bad thing for the market in the long run. Their fans were prepared for bad this season, so anything better than bad was a bonus. Now, they’re prepared for amazing. Amazing is pretty damn difficult to replicate.
We’ve heard the media drooling all over them all playoffs
Seriously. The media as a whole have a tendency to ruin everything. What person loves hearing reporters get horny over getting to go to Vegas for work? And then it makes you wonder if they’re rooting for Vegas so they can go to Vegas for work? And they probably are! Doesn’t exactly help the Golden Knights look that adorable when that’s all you read on social media from the guys covering the sport. Not to mention, media guys will claim they have no rooting interest, they just root for the best stories. Well, Vegas is the best “story”. Sooooooooo you’re rooting for them? It’s disgusting. Even though so many of them don’t believe they’re showing their cards on social media, they’ve got their whole hand turned for everyone to see. And none of them are honest about Vegas, just like none of them are honest about any team that goes on these kind of runs in the NHL. The 2014 Avs finished first in the best division in the league one year after picking first overall. And it was Patrick Roy, and it was the team speed, and it was Nathan MacKinnon. And the whole time I’m sitting there saying “there’s no way Roy is this good of a coach, and this blueline is worse than the Oilers!” Well, they were a fluke. 2015, Calgary Flames “they just out work EVERYONE and are the hardest working team in the league and they never quit!!” If they were the hardest working team in the league, why did opponents dominate them territorially all season? It’s the same here, and people will call it a “miracle run”, and then if those same people hear someone say “it’s been pretty lucky” they’ll look to rip you a new asshole. What exactly is the difference between the two?! Isn’t “miracle” just a nice way of saying “fluke”?
Like, did anyone watch games three, four and five against the Jets? You’re SERIOUSLY going to tell me that the Golden Knights were the better team in any of those games? Reilly Smith scored the GWG in game four, the guy mishandled the puck right before he shot it! It bounced up on him either as or right before he shot it, which is why it fooled Hellebuyck. The GWG in game five went off a Jets stick, then Ryan Reaves, neither intentionally. That’s a planned goal?! And again, they’ve got the bounces ALL SEASON. No injuries, no bad bounces against them, a shit load have gone for them, and when all that starts to happen (just like it did with Colorado and Calgary), your team just has a feeling of invincibility. And you could tell with the Jets in game five, they knew the Golden Knights had that advantage too, and mentally they looked like they gave up. The effort was there, but the belief was completely gone. That’s what is going to make them nearly impossible for Tampa or Washington to beat, is they don’t know how to lose at this point. Sure, they’ll lose a game here and there, but they just know that they’re going to get the large majority of the bounces, and there for never are gripping their sticks, never making bad mistakes, everything is easy. They work insanely hard….but it’s easy as fuck for them to do because they’ve got to a level now where they believe the harder they work, the more it’s going to go their way, and while that SHOULD be how life works, for 99% of us it isn’t. I’ve done this blog for seven years now, and any break I looked as though I was getting as a result of it I had the rug pulled right out from under me. AJHL colour commentary gig, gone. HF Boards writer for the Canadiens prospects, gone. Writing for an upstart Oilers page, gone. None of those were leading me to the promise land by any means, but were chances to branch out and do more and as a whole hopefully it would all lead to something. Nobody is telling me what a hard worker I am for continuing to fail and still try. Hell, I’m short, fat, have anxiety and mental health issues, now 35 years old, it’s not exactly easy street for me in general! There’s a lot of days I want to quit doing this site and think it’s a complete waste of time, but I still do it because it’s ingrained in me to keep trying no matter what. You know when it is easy as hell for me to do this site? When I start seeing the numbers go through the roof. Its a breeze to work my balls off when that starts happening. You know when it’s easy for me to get on my treadmill and have a good workout? When I’ve been able to maintain my diet for a few days and get on a bit of a roll. All of a sudden, 40 minutes on the treadmill is the easiest part of my day. I guarantee you, its easy as hell for the Golden Knights to work as hard as they have all season. So just MAYBE, we should ease up a bit on how wonderful their work ethic is and praise that they “never give up”?
I’m sure you now think that I am angry, which I said I’m not. And maintain that I’m really not. That was actually a shot at the media and society in general for how we look at work ethic. More of a rant than I meant to get on, but hopefully it was an entertaining read.
I’m not looking to piss on anyone who loves what they’re seeing. There is hardly anyone on that team I dislike in anyway, I am ecstatic for Gerard Gallant after how he was ditched by the Panthers early last season, I’ve always thought George McPhee was a top GM in the league (look at his run in Washington, the system was always loaded while the team was near the top of the standings), and so if that is where people are coming from on there like of Vegas, or they just love what they see on TV from a presentation and crowd standpoint, I completely understand it. But that’s not where I’m coming from. I’m coming from the feeling of resentment, coming from the feeling of knowing that Gary Bettman is completely getting off to this after stacking the deck for this team in so many ways compared to any other expansion franchises, and of the fear that long term this really could be horrendous for the league if this style of play becomes the norm around the league. I had to live through hockey in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it was awful. The large majority of the games were completely unwatchable, and the league just sat there and let it happen because they’re too scared to actually improve the product.
So members of the media, enjoy this all you want. I’m cool with that. But shut the f*** up and quit trying to lecture those of us who don’t believe this is the greatest story imaginable. It really isn’t, and could end up being a massive disaster in disguise.
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups