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Golden Knights Accountability Ladder



Mark Stone, Vegas Golden Knights, Stanley Cup
Mark Stone lifts the Stanley Cup in T-Mobile Arena

Raise your hand if you had one of those corporate jobs that used an accountability ladder of sorts. My hand is up. Raise your other hand if you gave an eye-roll the first time you heard about the accountability ladder at that corporate job. Both of my hands are up.

For those that don’t know, the accountability ladder is something to help identify an employee’s level of accountability with problem-solving or their ownership level in a project. The lower four steps mean nothing is changing. The top four steps are when change starts to happen.

We are going to compare the eight steps of the accountability ladder to important moments in Vegas Golden Knights history.

Using the Accountability Ladder to achieve career goals - Nicholas Alexander

Denial / unaware: No one in the Golden Knights’ front office was aware of what was going to happen in season one. Nearly every media outlet predicted the Golden Knights to finish dead last in the Pacific Division. Those same media outlets felt it would be a successful season if the Golden Knights did not finish dead last in the overall standings.

After the expansion draft, it was a wait-and-see approach.

Blaming: Referees Eric Furlatt and Dan O’halloran called the infamous major penalty on Cody Eakin in game seven of the 2019 NHL playoffs. The Golden Knights led the San Jose Sharks 3-0 and the Sharks went on to score four times during the man advantage. The Golden Knights lost 5-4 in overtime and their season was over.

The blame was on the poor game-seven penalty that got called. The bigger issue was Gerard Gallant and his inability to close the series out. The Golden Knights led the Sharks 3-1 in the series and went on to lose three straight games. Gallant could have used a timeout during the major penalty kill to slow things down.

Everyone wanted to blame the referees when Gallant was to blame for losing the series.

Excuses: The Golden Knights failed to make the playoffs in the 2021-22 season. The excuse was injuries. The Golden Knights had over 500 man games missed due to injuries.

It is fair to acknowledge the injuries, but what about coach Pete DeBoer? The Golden Knights played a very uninspired brand of hockey down the stretch that lacked creativity.

If general manager Kelly McCrimmon would have kept DeBoer for the 2022-23 season, injuries would have been a valid excuse. McCrimmon fired DeBoer after the 2021-22 season. Injuries were not an excuse for the team missing the playoffs.

Wait and hope: DeBoer was hired on January 15, 2020, and that is when the “wait and hope” era started for the Golden Knights. Let’s revisit the playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks from season three. The Golden Knights took a lot of shots and did not find the back of the net often enough. Most of the shots came from the perimeter with little to no traffic in front of the net. It was the same thing over and over.

The Golden Knights went on to win the series in seven games. But that was the first sign of trouble for DeBoer. The Golden Knights played a boring brand of hockey under DeBoer.

DeBoer has a great history of early success with teams. They do well in the regular season and faulter in the playoffs. How creative did the Dallas Stars play against the Golden Knights in the Conference Finals last season?

Acknowledge: Kelly McCrimmon acknowledged the reality that the Golden Knights overachieved in season one. He felt nearly every player on the roster had a career year and that level of success was unsustainable. Wholesale changes were made to the roster for long-term success.

Own it: Bill Foley has been very involved in all aspects of the Golden Knights. He is a very hands-on owner that spends a lot of time around the team. After the Golden Knights missed the playoffs in the 2021-22 season, Foley mentioned that he wanted more involvement in the personal changes. While it is unknown how much involvement Foley required, it is fair to assume that McCrimmon may have needed to run more things by Foley.

Create solution: After McCrimmon acknowledged issues with the Golden Knights early rosters, he put a plan into motion. The plan involved bringing in players with a pedigree of leadership and winning. The next step was to bring players in that may not have had the necessary support from their previous team.

When you put Jack Eichel into a locker room with Mark Stone, Alec Martinez, Jonathan Marchessault, and Alex Pietrangelo, great things happen.

Make it happen: All that was left to do was to win the Stanley Cup. Much easier said then done. A team must be ready to win the Stanley Cup. In 2018, the Golden Knights were not ready to win the Stanley Cup. In 2023, the Florida Panthers were not ready to win a Stanley Cup. Maybe the Panthers need to re-visit what step went wrong in their accountability ladder.

Do you think there is an accountability ladder handing in the back of house at City National Arena?

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