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The Vegas Golden Knights are at risk of missing the NHL playoffs for the first time in their young franchise history, which should be considered a disappointment at best, an embarrassment at worst given the lack of divisional strength.
JULIAN MCKENZIE: If Vegas-- I mean, as we're doing this, they are out of a playoff spot right now. If Vegas misses the playoffs-- I understand they had the injuries that they had, but we could still call this a failure, right? This is a team that is designed to make the playoffs and compete every single year. How much of a disappointment would this really be if the Vegas Golden Knights-- for the first time in their team history-- with Jack Eichel on their team-- missed this year's postseason?
RAHEF ISSA: Disappointing. And I think a big part of that-- or a big reason for that-- is something that we said about the Vancouver Canucks. It's like, the division that they play in is just so god-awful compared to the other divisions in the league. So when you're a team like Vegas, and you have Jack Eichel-- I mean, yes, he was injured, like you said, Julian. The injuries are definitely a thing. But I still think it's a disappointment, considering the division that they're in.
SAM CHANG: Yeah, I absolutely agree with Rahef. I think more than a disappointment, I think it's an embarrassment if they don't make it. You look at that roster, you look at the steps they've taken to-- we'll use the word "manage", their cap space. That's embarrassing.
OMAR: Yeah, I agree. I'm on Sam's point. I think it's more embarrassing than disappointing. Just because from the beginning of the season, weird decision after weird decision. They trade Marc-André Fleury for nothing. For nothing! The reigning--
OMAR: Like literally. And then they end up running into goaltending troubles. They can't manage their cap. Which, again, is wild, considering that they just got here. And I know a lot of people will think like, oh, they've been in the playoffs every single year, how can it be disappointing?
Look at the division around them, man. Every single year Vegas has had a incredible shot to not only make the playoffs, but to also go far in the playoffs. Things have gone wrong. Last year, especially after last year, where they literally-- man, a lot of people say-- will make comparisons to the Leafs' series versus the Habs, and the Golden Knights Vegas series versus the Habs.
Yeah, the Leafs losing-- we're up 3-1, we lose, that sucks. But I look at Vegas, I'm like, how the hell did you lose that? Again, I know that sounds crazy, but Vegas had every opportunity to go back to the Stanley Cup Final, and they just dropped the ball. Yes, injuries, absolutely. But still.
And then you come into this season, you make the huge trade, you get Jack Eichel. There's a whole bunch of hype around him. And you can't get into the playoffs in this division? That's wild. So I know some people might say changes will come, it's Vegas, teams are going to go hopping regardless. But I don't know, maybe as a front office, you take a look around and think, hey, maybe we have to rein back the way that we've been doing business.
This whole like cutthroat, cold-blooded, throwing players over the fence thing. I really think they need to take a step back with that. And I don't think they can keep relying on the idea that oh, it's Vegas, players will want to come here. Yeah, but players also don't want to be disrespected all the time. You can't commit to a player and then check them out after two seasons.
So maybe this is the wake-up call. Or, I don't know, maybe they're just back in the playoffs next year.
SAM CHANG: I totally agree with that. I think part of the magic of Vegas and why they did so well in their first season was this whole "Golden Misfits" thing, right? That was their team culture. That was their team identity. And they've completely tossed that overboard over the last couple of years. Not the players, but the way that the team has been managed.
And I think this reputation they have has, I think, really taken away from that "misfits" culture that really worked for them.