In 1999, the Atlanta Thrashers paid about $80 million for an expansion team (I think...correct me if I'm wrong). In their first year, they finished last in their division, never got a off to a good start and some years later were off to Winnipeg... 17 years later, Foley pays $500 million for a franchise. Whether or not you think that a franchise should have gone to Las Vegas, I think that most people were okay with expansion parameters that would be a bit more generous...But what would be the ideal equation? I think that the biggest change in the expansion draft from '99 to'17 was that each team protected 2 less players (again please correct me if I'm wrong). In hindsight, should that maybe have been 1 less player? How could you know what numbers would be the right numbers? You and I know that there are many GMs in this league that would have taken the same opportunity that McPhee had...and would have botched it completely. Then, the VGK's would have finished out of the play-offs and then, those same parameters would have been okay, right?...
Yes, McPhee was given a better leg-up than his predecessors had, but jeez, give him some credit...he rode that pony like a boss. That was some masterful horse-trading there! The Fleury thing was just pure luck. Re: the goalie part of the equation, McPhee was working with the same guidelines as those before him. (I think that Fleury was considered past his prime). Even with McPhee's masterful job, how could he have projected that Fleury would have one of his best years ever, or that several players would elevate their games to the best they ever had or probably ever will. They hired the right coach, implementing the right system, which the players executed. Throw in a lot of puck-luck (how many times through the playoffs did we see Fleury "patting the post"?), and some fortunate timing...(had Hellebuyck been on his A-game in the Vegas series, it would have been Washington-Winnipeg). The whole Vegas success was lightning-in-a-bottle... At a time when the city needed something positive, I find it almost unbelievable that "that something" was given to them by ...a hockey team??...That's great for the fans in Las Vegas, and for the NHL.
As far as being "mean-spirited" I can't believe the hate that was heaped on the VGK franchise, the city and its fans in general. I kinda felt for the fellow board members like Lee Noire that live in Vegas.
I got somewhat involved in the Las Vegas process...I made up the T-shirts for these guys in Las Vegas on their "team-announcement-night"...
...pretty regular folks, with pretty regular jobs, life, etc., that are ecstatic about finally getting a team of their own. I'm happy for them.
Off the ice...yeah, the opening schtick before the games was a little cheesy...but so what. If it works for them..great.
I probably have more reason to dislike Foley as anyone...but I have to give credit where it's due...After the botched name reveal, they seemed to do everything right...the opening night tribute to the victims and responders of the shooting... Deryk Engellend's speech...the players involvement in the community...the relationship with the city...little things like hosting some members of the Humboldt community ...Golden Pipes allowing Winnipeg fans their "True North" moment during the anthem...(telling Carrie Underwood "No Thanks")...etc. etc....I thought they showed a lot of class.
Congratulations to the Golden Knights for a great season...and to the Caps...another great story...the near-perfect ending IMO.