32 Teams In 32 Days: Vegas Golden Knights
When operating the team like a video game goes wrong
In today’s 32 Team outlook we examine the Vegas Golden Knights and their downward slide after their initial success.
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No expansion team of the modern era has ever had the immediate success of the Vegas Golden Knights.
They burst on the scene in their inaugural season and not only had one of the best records in the league, they went on an improbable and completely unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final. They ultimately lost in five games to the Washington Capitals, but it was still one of the wildest seasons and stories we have seen in pro sports in recent memory.
Most of it was made possible by the failures of the league’s 30 other front offices for mishandling the expansion draft. Instead of just losing one player, several teams completely freaked out and made nonsensical trades that saw them give Vegas *multiple* players (in many cases multiple *good* players) and draft picks (first round picks!).
It not only gave the Golden Knights an outstanding initial NHL roster, it also gave them the assets to be players in the trade market to acquire even more pieces.
That initial success also gave Vegas what appears to be an unquenchable thirst for blockbuster moves and a do-anything-to-win-the-Stanley-Cup mindset.
As a fan, you should always want your team to make an effort to win. Championships do not come easily and they do require a front office and ownership that is able and willing to make some moves.
It also requires a plan. And direction. And good leadership. And some common sense and restraint.
The problem with Vegas’ approach in recent years is it seems to be lacking that last part. All of it. Rather than having some sort of a set direction, Vegas’ plan, such as it is, seems to be nothing more than acquire whatever big star is available — money be damned, assets be damned — and just throw it all together to see what happens. They have been the most cutthroat team in the league in terms of personnel movement, while also making some curious moves along the way.
Despite consistent success from the very beginning, the organization is already on its third coach in six years (Gerard Gallant, Peter DeBoer, and now Bruce Cassidy) and has seen its roster be a revolving door of players to acquire the next big-name star that is available.
All of that has seen Vegas deplete its trade assets, wreck its salary cap situation, and it is now coming off of bitterly disappointing 2021-22 season that saw it miss the playoffs for the first time in its existence.
Given the way this offseason has gone so far, things are not really looking any brighter for the 2022-23 season.
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