When Darren Dreger dropped this Tweet, he thought he was breaking news, not breaking the internet. Immediately after the well-known insider hit send, VGK Twitter went up in flames.
From the days leading up to the 2017 Expansion Draft, Marc-Andre Fleury was tabbed as the “Face of the Franchise”, the man who can do no wrong, the savior! A full-court press PR push accompanied the masked man, as Bill Foley and his cast of characters needed to assure fan interest, despite over 10,000 locked in as inaugural season ticket holders, many of those with multi-year agreements.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone
USA Today Sports
Nonetheless, this quiet, lovable goaltender became a celebrity, rivaling the likes of Wayne Newton and David Copperfield as far as Las Vegas is concerned. Mix in a tragic shooting in which the team lended it’s helping hand in recovery and you have the recipe for attachment.
If Malcolm Subban allowed a goal, he was chastised. Fleury allows a goal we pat him on the back and tell him he’s a good boy, it’s the defense’s fault. Same with the lone goaltender standing in Vegas, Robin Lehner. Lehner was too slow, too big, has too many demons in the shadow of the immortal Fleury. Lehner has played great since his arrival and that wasn’t good enough. Worth noting, Fleury’s performance this past season, a Vezina-winning campaign, did Lehner no favors.
As we all know, the National Hockey League is a business first. Whether it’s ethics, social responsibility, change, promotions, fandom, etc. the money always comes first. As a business mind, this was a good move, despite the lackluster return for such a storied goaltender, one of the best to ever play the game at that.
Mikael Hakkarainen is a former fifth round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks and he has yet to see significant time above the ECHL level. He is a few years out from any NHL contention.
Clearly, the Golden Knights feel the need to make changes. They fell short of the ultimate goal a following their fourth-straight playoff run. A Stanley Cup Final visit in year one catapulted the Golden Knights into “win-now” mode. A shoe needed to drop for the team up against the flat salary cap, due to hefty contracts held by Pietrangelo, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, and Fleury. With full confidence in Lehner, Fleury was shipped out.
Goal scoring was at a premium for the Golden Knights, particularly their expensive Top-Six forwards. The Stone line was thwarted by the elite Phillip Danault, while the second line regained their “misfits” season momentum. Danault was able to shut down the Vegas top line, on the Canadiens’ way to the Stanley Cup Final.
Could the newfound cap room go to a Danault contract offer? He was extremely effective in the playoffs despite a line devoid of offensive counting stats. Are they trying to make another big splash, by trading for Jack Eichel? Maybe even Gabriel Landeskog, the Avalanche captain that remains unsigned. Anything is in play with this franchise, evidenced by the unceremonious exile of the Face of the Franchise.
What makes this deal even funnier, is that Lehner was acquired FROM Chicago. The Golden Knights dealt Fleury’s backup, Malcolm Subban, in that trade. Now Subban will once again be stuck beneath Fleury on a depth chart unless the Vezina winner calls it quits, as rumors fly around.
One definite is the Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon speaking to the media at 12pm PT. He should have some perspective for us, or he will keep everyone in limbo until another trade comes or he start of free Agency tomorrow.
Standby for more details. THIS. IS. FUN!
As expected, McCrimmon explained that the rumors hit Twitter before they began the trade call. He did not get a chance to speak to the player before the rumors hit. According to the GM, they will never go to the player before a trade call is official.
McCrimmon gave both Fleury and Lehner credit “for the way they handled it (tandem)”, but he needed to make the team better which requires cap space. McCrimmon spoke to Alec Martinez, who this writer thinks they should let walk and also UFAs Tomas Nosek and Mattias Janmark.
In closing, McCrimmon was very complementary of the outgoing goaltender, his passion for the game and the person he is. The media call was very complementary of Fleury and he was sure to speak to the impact Fleury had on both the team and the city. At the end of the day, as mentioned above, it all comes down to business.
“I want to make sure Marc-Andre is recognized for all he did for the organization.”
- Kelly McCrimmon, VGK GM
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