Comparing the Expansion: Vegas vs. Seattle Round 1: General Manager

The Seattle 32nds are just three off-seasons away from being a real team and we all know that they’ll constantly be compared to the Vegas Golden Knights because…well, why not?? They’re both coming into the NHL within five years of each other, they both are going to fill out the Western Conference, and we’re a culture of comparisons and results– therefore, it’s time to get the wheels going on the comparisons for nothing more but summer content.

On Thursday, the Seattles made their first plunge into the world with Ron Francis being named the team’s first general manager. Francis comes from the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was GM from 2014 until 2018 when he was let go after new owner Thomas Dundon came in. While he had a year off, Francis will have a fresh slate to start off with being at the helm.

VGK COMPARABLE: The Golden Knights were introduced in June of 2016, with their hiring George McPhee in July of 2016. With only two off-seasons to prepare, the Seattles definitely are giving Francis more time to settle. McPhee was still within the game after being dismissed as the Capitals GM in 2014, though– like Francis– had a year off before moving on in his personnel career.

Back to Francis, his tenure in Carolina was short and not so sweet. With only four seasons, Francis didn’t see the playoffs at all and never cracking the 90-point plateau. While the young core was building, he didn’t get to see it through with his dismissal before this miraculous run this year in the playoffs. While he does have that “good hockey guy” label, it’s not necessarily a good thing if he cannot get results from this new team that he’s specifically putting together.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee stepped into Vegas with 14 years of GM experience with the Capitals, including eight 40-plus win seasons, seven Division titles, one Presidents Trophy, and one Stanley Cup appearance. He was through the ups and downs and ups again with the Cup final, blending into the desperate times of acquiring an unmotivated Jaromir Jagr which led to the Caps Fire Sale and then the building up the team around Alex Ovechkin. Being through all of those events definitely helped McPhee be able to adjust and got some fate from VGK owner Bill Foley to give him the reins of the team.

The next big step is to start looking for a coach. With the team not starting for another three seasons will be a hard sell for Francis, which is not something Vegas had to deal with as they only were one season out from their start. The biggest question is will Francis go with someone who’s established and already been through the cycle of the NHL or will he actually start with someone fresh and clean and ready for an opportunity like this.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee was able to get Gerard Gallant in April of 2017 in the off-season before their start. Thanks to the Florida Panthers silliness, McPhee really lucked out on him and it’s been the best choice so far, as the Stanley Cup appearance and two consecutive playoff appearances have showed. While it is a bit of a luck of the draw for coaches, you can say that Vegas put their money on the right number on the coaching roulette table.


So there we go– the first round of the comparisons everyone is going to make. When you look at it long-term, Vegas has the advantage in spades. They got a GM who was established, knew the league, knew what to do in different situations, and knew who to put in charge. No disrespect to Francis, but his short track record is suspect; though you can say it may rank up with an “Incomplete” grade considering he was there for a shorter time than some.

Butthurt Fans Fuel My Golden Knights Love

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It’s funny to see the reaction of people who hate the idea of the Vegas Golden Knights being this close to a Stanley Cup Final appearance. The claims of unbalanced Expansion Draft rules, unfair trades so some guys wouldn’t get picked in the Draft, and other wild, butthurt claims that makes me want them to win the Cup more than ever.

And look– as a Caps fans, I know what it’s like to have a team that struggles and has the talent, but never tastes anything close to the Cup. It’s a bit annoying to see the success of the Golden Knights out of pure jealousy– but when I step back from the fan-view; it’s a great story. Not just in the NHL, but in sports overall. It’s a movie script to be honest– unprotected by their team, picked by this new, put together team, and have this amazing season that still isn’t done yet.

However, to say that they did it by nefarious means is downright outrageous. William Karlsson has talent, but he wasn’t going to get a chance in Columbus with John Tortorella at the helm. You can’t tell me that you thought Karlsson was going to have a 40-goal season in Columbus when he only hit 14 goals in his previous two seasons combined. Oh, and he also was picked AT THE REQUEST of Columbus, while also giving them the salary of David Clarkson. Alex Tuch was a throw-in from the Wild for the Knights taking Erik Haula, Fleury was who the Pens wanted the Knights to take, Reilly Smith was traded to make sure that Jonathan Marchessault was picked by the Knights.

Yup– really unfair when the guys who turned out to be the best players on their team are basically having their old teams BEG VEGAS TO TAKE THEM AWAY!!

You want motivation?? How about when you have teams giving you away because they wanted to make sure someone else got taken. You want to prove value?? You shove it up their ass. That’s motivation. And to have someone like Gerard Gallant– who was last seen in the NHL having to get his own cab– at the helm of this rag-tag team of players; you have 30+ guys with their hearts and minds dead set on proving everyone wrong.

This was a team that most people thought were going to finished dead-last in the league. This was a team that people had not getting to 70 points. This was a team that people believed would have visiting fans outnumber the home fans by a country mile.

So much for that.

No one would have guessed this season would happen. I’m sure some of the guys on the team– despite saying they believed in themselves– would have thought they’d go this far. Five guys with 20+ goals, using five goalies in the first two weeks due to injuries and STILL WINNING, and believing enough in their roster to make very limited moves and sticking with the horses they have. Now, as of the time of this writing, they are one win away from getting to the Stanley Cup Final.

What’s the point of my ramblings?? Well, it’s because fans ruin everything thinking they know what the story is supposed to be for any franchise. Just because your team had to have hardships doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for every team. Just because your team had the top-priced talent doesn’t mean value picks can’t get it done. Just because your team waited X-number of years to win a Cup doesn’t mean this team can’t do it in a single season.

If you can’t enjoy this for the story because it’s a first year team and you’re a jealous fan– fine. But don’t say these players don’t deserve it because everyone– including myself– didn’t think this team would do shit for shinola.

Good on them for shoving it up everyone’s ass.