Tim Speltz has been on the job for about a month. But he feels completely at home in Henderson as the Silver Knights’ general manager.
The Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL team opened training camp Monday at Lifeguard Arena amid optimism and excitement. They’ll play a full schedule and will finish the season in their new arena, the $70 million, 6,019-seat Dollar Loan Center. It’s a far cry from last year’s uncertainty and issues of playing hockey during a pandemic with a reduced schedule and lots of empty seats.
Speltz, who was the Toronto Maples Leafs’ director of amateur scouting before accepting the job with the Silver Knights, has seen a lot in a short time. He watched some of his players compete against other prospects. He watched them go up against NHL-caliber players the first four games of the Golden Knights’ preseason schedule. Now, with a workable roster, a game on Wednesday in Tucson, Ariz., against the Roadrunners and the AHL season beginning Oct. 15 against Colorado at the Orleans Arena, Speltz is seeing his operation coming together.
“What I like is the progression of the players,” he said. “We started with rookie camp and there’s been some nice growth.”
Second-year coach Manny Viveiros had 25 players on the ice and there may be some changes between now and the 15th. But for the most part, he knows who will be on his lineup card and like Speltz, Viveiros has been impressed with the quality of players who will wear the Silver Knights sweater.
“Having been here a year with a lot of these players, we have a better feel for what they can do,” he said. “The training camp with the Golden Knights was so valuable for those guys. They know the system and we’re able to get more done.”
Viveiros got an unexpected boost to his lineup when the Golden Knights reassigned defenseman Daniil Miromanov to Henderson Saturday after Miromanov was so impressive in his NHL debut with three goals in two games against Los Angeles.
“We knew going forward he was going to be with us,” Viveiros said of Miromanov. “He’s a very talented kid and he’ll get a chance to work on his game here.”
Speltz said of the decision by the Golden Knights to send Miromanov to Henderson: “We’re on the same page. It was really beneficial play those preseason games. It certainly elevates his stock in our eyes.”
Miromanov said he’s fine with skating as a Silver Knight.
“I was pretty realistic,” he said. “I’ tried to make a good impression and I’m just going to focus on my game and try and get better.”
The first day was up-tempo as the team tried to go through its drills at an NHL pace. Instead of the traditional grease board, a video screen was set up near the bench to point out what Viveiros and his coaching staff were trying to teach.
“You can see they’re trying to maintain that NHL speed here in Henderson,” he said.
After playing just 39 games last year and winning the Pacific Division with 51 points in their inaugural season, Year Two will be exciting for the Silver Knights. Not only do they have a talented team, they will eventually finish the season in the Dollar Loan Center. Construction is moving along and the arena is expected to be finished in time for the scheduled April 2 opener vs. Bakersfield. The first 26 games will be played at the Orleans Arena, the team’s home last year.
“Everything’s on track,” Speltz said. “We’re very excited about opening the Dollar Loan Center. But we’re comfortable playing at the Orleans. it’s a fantastic facility for hockey.”