Business is certainly picking up for the NHL’s expansion franchise.
On Sunday, each team’s protected players list was made public by the league prior to the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. There were no big surprises for Pittsburgh, with the following all safe: Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist, Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta and Matt Murray.
It would seem, then, that Marc-Andre Fleury is likely to head west this week. We’ll officially find out Wednesday.
In the meantime, Vegas was busy filling out its hockey operations staff and received help from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Here’s the link to my story explaining why the Golden Knights were smitten with Doug Davidson and Kyle Moore.
Jay Mellette, who is featured prominently in the story, is a fascinating guy and easily deserves his own profile. Because he is very familiar with Las Vegas, I asked him how the city is embracing its new hockey team. He said the following in response to the idea of a professional sports revolution coming to the city:
Vegas is hungry. Hungry for professional sports, hungry for something different … I think it’s going to work well and be a very huge success. … Is it a revolution? I don’t know. Let’s look at what Vegas has become. Let’s just talk about sports and sports performance and sports medicine. You have Cirque du Soleil, such a unique group of athletes. Now, reach across the city and you have UFC. Talk about those guys as athletes. Now, you’re bringing in hockey players to this community. No,w you’re talking about football coming to the city, and all of these experts are supporting human performance of football players. This city is not in a revolution; it’s an evolution.
So, there you have it. Vegas is hungry for hockey. I certainly look forward to seeing the team take shape.
A quick recap of what has happened over the last few days:
- Grand Rapids beat Syracuse in Game 6 to win the Calder Cup. Wyoming Seminary product Eric Tangradi was on the team, along with former Penguin Ben Street.
- Former Penguins captain Ryan Craig was hired as an assistant coach by (sound familiar?) the Vegas Golden Knights.
- Bill Guerin was named Wilkes-Barre/Scranton GM. He’s been heavily involved with the team already, so not a surprise.
- Mike Buckley was promoted to Pittsburgh’s goaltender coach. He was instrumental in the development of Matt Murray and, more recently, Tristan Jarry.
Business will surely pick up once the expansion draft is complete in terms of the Penguins roster taking shape. In the meanwhile, be sure to get out and enjoy the summer air. If you see an errant frisbee headed in your direction, that’s just me learning how to disc golf.