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Welcome to Vegas Hockey Now

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Vegas Golden Knights, Vegas Hockey Now

Hello everyone and welcome to Vegas Hockey Now. We are launching at a unique time – the Vegas Golden Knights have just bowed out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing the Western Conference Final to the Dallas Stars. But there’s no time like the present to talk about one of the deepest teams in the NHL and the oddball season that was.

SO IT ENDS, SO IT BEGINS

I look forward to doing many things with you on this site. We will take a look back and examine the good and bad. We will also look forward to potential changes, cap considerations, and prospects in the pipeline. Plus I know that every player has a story, and I look forward to telling a few of those too.

We will provide a lot of free content for everyone, and for the more hardcore hockey fan, we offer premium subscription to VHN+ as well.

We’re proud to be a part of the National Hockey Now network of sites including our flagship Pittsburgh Hockey Now, and venerable beat writing professionals Adrian Dater with Colorado Hockey Now and George Richards’ Florida Hockey Now. We also have our flag planted in Boston, New York, and check out former VGK beat writer Sheng Peng in San Jose.

In total, we’re now seven markets strong and more are coming!

A little about me: I spent five years doing play-by-play for the Nashville Predators and have broadcasted professional hockey for almost 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of games at every level, and appreciate not only the speed and grace of the NHL level but the grind and determination it takes to make it from the minor or junior hockey. When it comes to judging a player, I want to see him play and how he performs. I’m not much of a fancy stats guy but believe they have their time and place. Hey, I’ve worked in sales. Numbers can be made to show anything you want.

You’ll find I strive for objective coverage, even when it means having an unpopular opinion or going against the grain. I’m not beholden to anyone but you, the loyal Vegas Golden Knights fans. It’s my job to break things down, explain them, and let you decide for yourself what to think. You may not always agree with me, but I look forward to the back-and-forth talking about the best sport in the world.

Thank you for joining us here at Vegas Hockey Now. I’m looking forward to the journey with you.

Yours in Hockey,

Tom Callahan

Vegas Hockey Now Editor-in-chief. Host, creator online hockey show @talkingpucktv. Yes I called NHL games.

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Vegas Reverse Retro Jersey Confirmed?

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Vegas Retro Red Jersey Golden Knights

Vegas Reverse Retro Jersey Appears Confirmed by Sports Business Journal Tweet

For the last few weeks there have been alleged leaks of different jerseys across social media including a red Vegas Golden Knights jersey. There have also been images of jerseys for the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsbrugh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and even San Jose Sharks.

However, according to San Jose Sharks President Jonathan Becher, the alternate sweaters were a hoax:

This tweet appears to refer to a Sharks jersey echoing the California Golden Seals that had been making the rounds, but also in saying “none” of these designs are real seems to be nodding towards all the designs floating out there. We’ve seen photos of jerseys for sale on eBay, posted on various websites, and proliferating on fan accounts. While I don’t always buy in to jersey rumors, in this case you could sense there might be fire and not just smoke.

This morning, Sports Business Journal put out the following tweet:

Interesting photo choice, eh?

This all but locks in that the NHL is indeed going to release the series of jerseys in a few weeks, including the red Vegas Reverse Retro jersey we spoke of last week. The jersey pays homage to the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder with its “V” shaped striping, updated to Vegas Golden Knights colors. The jersey also features the team’s secondary star logo as the main crest. The Knight helm is on the shoulders.

While reception has been mixed, I think that once fans have a chance to see them for real they’ll be a stunner.

The Vegas Reverse Retro jersey will be worn for “select” games this season. Perhaps they will be worn against other teams with the jerseys. Since the original leak photo juxtaposed Vegas and an updated Wild Wing Anaheim Ducks jersey, it’s fair to assume that will be a matchup featuring the jerseys.

Another potential matchup for the red Vegas Reverse Retro jersey could be against the Colorado Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon posted a picture of Quebec Nordiques-color gloves on his Instagram with the caption “new colors crazy”. The Avs moved out of La Belle Provence in the mid-90s because of economic considerations. But the baby blue jerseys remain popular with the retro crowd to this day… and those of us old enough to remember what a fierce Adams Division rival the Nordiques were.

We’re also seeing Dallas teasing a jersey release for Wednesday by showing us just a black piece of jersey fabric. This morning they posted the following video:

So it looks like the Stars are going to be going either monochromatic, or perhaps have just a very slight reference to the team’s signature green in them. But this release doesn’t match up with the Reverse Retro. It seems more in line with the VGK Golds that were released a few weeks ago.

Give it a few weeks Golden Knights fans. We will see the new Vegas Reverse Retro jersey out there soon.

 

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Who Joins the Vegas Golden Knights in a Pandemic Division?

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Vegas Goes Gold

We here at VHN are in “fun mode” at this point of the off-season. It’s fun to follow thoughts and ideas that swirled at various points in the last few weeks but had to be shelved for stuff like “breaking news“, “Alex Pietrangelo” and “Robin Lehner vs. Marc-Andre Fleury IN A STEEL CAGE!”.

Well, maybe the last one combined reality with one of those crazy ideas…

But at this point, we don’t have any real idea of when the season will start. It appears less likely with the second wave of COVID-19 things actually do hit that January 1 initial projection. Vegas owner Bill Foley has speculated it could be February 1 if not later.

I think it’s a given that we will see a shorter season, likely 48 games. Historical precedence exists and for TV reasons the season has to end by the start of the Tokyo Olympics.

Likewise I don’t think you can play this season in a bubble, but you might be able to hub for part of it. If the teams did hub, I believe it would be at the start of the season. Once the border between Canada and the US is open again for non-essential travel I see things going back to what we consider “normal”.

So with that in mind, here are my predictions for Pandemic Division distribution for when the NHL would resume play in January/February.

Canadian Division?

Yes. A Canadian pandemic division would be essential and is actually a great size. Plus, it gives the Canadian networks must-watch matchups almost all the time to start the season. So we have Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver in the CD. Plus if the US/Canada border really does remain closed until at least January 1 if not beyond, it’s pretty much how the NHL has to proceed. So we might as well warm up to the idea now.

Look at the immediate benefits of Toronto/Montreal and Edmonton/Calgary hammering away at each other as they’ve always done. Then we have the potential for new rivalries with the Jets who are the only centralized team in Canada. Everyone else is closer to the coasts. Plus with Ottawa spending the way they are and with an owner saying they’ll win a Stanley Cup in four years, they’re a team to watch.

Obviously this leads to questions, such as structure for the remaining divisions, each of which will have eight teams because I’m having four divisions. What happens to the Golden Knights and the former Pacific Division?

What Happens To Vegas

The VGK will end up in a pandemic division with current rivals San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. But to fill out the last three teams in the division, I’m going to draw a new map and create some awesome rivalries. Coming in as the last teams will be the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, and St. Louis Blues.

This would undoubtedly be the most fun possible for VGK fans because it grows the rivalry with Dallas; Colorado/Vegas will turn out to be the marquee matchup in my opinion; St. Louis wants its mojo back and has something to prove. Plus imagine the Pietrangelo vs. STL storyline playing out six times or more in a season.

I realize you might think this sounds like the creation of someone with inherent bias, but geographically it makes sense. Ignore for just the start of the season how Dallas hated being in the Pacific and left for the Central. It rekindles those old Ducks/Stars matchups that used to get out hand. Everyone will be gunning for Dallas and for Vegas. Colorado could be the best team in the NHL to start the season if healthy, yet in a division like this it will be survival of the fittest. Plus, even if you write off Arizona and the California teams (sorry Sharks fans) for the season, this setup gives you the potential for a great clash somewhere every single night.

The North

This pandemic division was also altered from my first call. Originally it was an easy time to lump Buffalo, New Jersey, NYI, NYR, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh and Columbus together. Nice and tidy. But that left me with that oddball “South” division which wasn’t very southern for half of it.

So as I always say, sacrifices have to be made, but the division might be better for it.

Now, I have a lineup I’m pretty happy with. I take the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.

Wow – really shook up some things there! And broke off the traditional rivalries that go all the way back to the Patrick Division days with PIT/PHI and the NY teams. But let’s look at some of the crazy awesome upside here.

FOUR of the Original Six teams are in a division together. For Detroit, they only recently came back to the Eastern Conference. Chicago has been in the West for a long time and is now the only O-6 team out there. But look at it now! Hawks, Wings, Rangers and Bruins all in the same division. Rangers/Bruins has deep, angry roots and would be awesome to see renewed. Wings and Hawks much the same. Plus now Minnesota and Buffalo fans get a different perspective on things as well. I like how this works out for my “Southern” division as well. And for Buffalo it’s a chance to really finally establish that downstate rivalry in hockey.

The South

Hopefully the NHL embraces the rare chance to realign and perhaps stoke some other unique rivalries. Initially I had this pandemic division looking somewhat differently than my final alignment. I had constructed a division that included the obvious Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers triangle.

Is now the time to say I miss the Atlanta Thrashers? RIP ATL hockey.

I was going to lump Washington in here with pretty much the rest of the Central Division, but I now realize that’s not going to play out as well as I first imagined.

So for my remaining five teams, I bring in the Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

And believe it or not, I think there’s some nice synergies here.

Nashville and Pittsburgh rivalry? Well, the Penguins (and former Pred Patric Hornqvist) did deny Music City a Stanley Cup. This also keeps the Crosby/Ovechkin thing going – but I’m really over that narrative. However it appears the NHL and NBC are not.

Nashville and Columbus used to be rivals in the Barry Trotz/Ken Hitchcock days, but that’s faded with the CBJ in the east. Perhaps now they could rekindle that, especially with John Tortorella as the new protagonist.

I also think that Philly, Washington and Pittsburgh are good teams that will compete with each other every night. Now you have a division with legit contenders and a defending Stanley Cup champion going head-to-head to start the season almost every night. And let’s face it, Columbus can completely spoil an evening for anyone every time out.

Conclusion

In creating my pandemic division setup I allowed for some rivalry retention as well as nods towards recent clashes. I think this is the best balance of geography and rivalry, but what do you think? How would you align your four divisions? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

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Tom’s VHN Daily

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VGK Top Playoff Performer Shea Theodore

Welcome to Tom’s VHN Daily, where we list the day’s most interesting, entertaining and informative links.

Arizona’s top draft pick was convicted for bullying a black, mentally-disabled teen. (AZCentral)

The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking for a new AGM if you want to drop them a resume. (PittsburghHockeyNow)

Speaking of firing your AGM, Florida continues to change things up under new GM Bill Zito. (FloridaHockeyNow)

Even though it’s kinda quiet right now, it doesn’t mean we won’t see some movement still. Here are six names that could be on the move yet. (The Score)

I’ll be honest. When it comes to winning in sports, I feel like “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” Intelligent hockey fans know what’s going on with their team. Chicago needed to write a letter to tell fans they’re rebuilding? Apparently. So is Boston next? (Boston Hockey Now)

We here at VHN hoped that Friday’s virtual GM meeting would shed light on when next season might begin. But as TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports, that didn’t happen. He did, however, suggest the league would like a big-time opening whenever that may be. (TSN)

When it comes to Anthony Duclair, I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-meter cattle prod (bonus points if you get that reference). But Christian Arnold says the Islanders should make it happen. (NYI Hockey Now)

Are you into analytics or not? I’m a big believer in the eye test to judge a player, but those fancy stats do have a place. Just not in the locker room, according to Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson. (SanJoseHockeyNow)

That’s it for today. Look for another edition of Tom’s VHN Daily every weekday!

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