In this edition of Vegas Golden Knights news & rumors, there are some suggesting that management may look to bring in Barry Trotz as their head coach for the 2021-22 season. Of course, that all depends on whether or not they bring back Pete DeBoer, who George McPhee recently said will have no problems patching up his relationship with Robin Lehner if both do return for the 2022-23 campaign. Meanwhile, McPhee also let it be known that Jack Eichel battled a serious injury for a good chunk of the 34 games he played this year. Last but not least, Max Pacioretty is the team’s nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy.
Barry Trotz an Available Coaching Option for Golden Knights
Lou Lamoriello and the New York Islanders surprised many this Monday when they announced they had relieved Trotz of his duties as their head coach. Despite a disappointing 2021-22 season, the expectation was Trotz would have gotten another shot to turn things around given his success not only with the Isles but the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals.
Whatever the reasoning, Lamoriello chose to move on, much to the delight of many other clubs who will be in search of a new coach for the 2022-23 season. One of those teams may be the Golden Knights, who have yet to make a decision on DeBoer after their own disappointing 2021-22 campaign. Though he still does have one more season remaining on his deal, bringing in Trotz may be too difficult to pass up.
Over the past 18 seasons of coaching at the NHL level, Trotz has missed the playoffs on just four occasions. Not only that, but he finally got the Capitals over the hump back in 2018, as he helped lead them to their first-ever Stanley Cup Championship. On top of that, he also has two Jack Adams Awards under his belt and is regarded as one of the best head coaches throughout the entire NHL.
McPhee Believes DeBoer & Lehner Can Repair Relationship
Despite some rumblings surrounding DeBoer’s future, no decision has been made yet on his future by general manager Kelly McCrimmon. Plenty have suggested that DeBoer will not be able to return if Lehner is back, given the very clear tension between the two this season. However, speaking recently on the Bob McCown Podcast, Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee is of the belief the two will be able to get over their frustrations with one another.
“I’m not,” McPhee said when asked if he was worried about the relationship. “There’s been some noise about that, but people get over it.”
It has been widely reported that Lehner was not happy with how DeBoer blamed him for multiple losses late in the season while also dismissing the fact that he was battling an injury. DeBoer has since gone out of his way to deliver positive comments in regards to Lehner, though the goaltender himself has not commented on the issue. Until he does, questions will continue to swirl regarding the relationship between the two.
Eichel Battled Broken Thumb for Six Weeks
Another interesting storyline surrounding the Golden Knights this season involved their acquisition of Eichel. While everyone knows how elite of a talent the 25-year-old is, he didn’t have the best first season with his new club, managing a somewhat disappointing 25 points in 34 games. However, in the same interview on the Bob McCown Podcast, McPhee mentioned that the star forward had been battling a thumb injury for the final six weeks of the year.
“What most people probably wouldn’t know is that he broke his thumb in a bad way about three or four weeks into his return,” McPhee said. “It was non-displaced so he didn’t have to have surgery, but it was a bad fracture, and the guy didn’t miss a game. He toughed it out, we had to numb him up, and it wasn’t easy because when that wore off, he was in a lot of pain, but he toughed it out for six weeks with that.”
While Eichel’s late-season struggles were well-documented, it seems no one was aware of the fact that he was playing injured. This should not only give confidence to Golden Knights fans that he will be able to bounce back in 2022-23, but it also shows just how bad he wanted to help his team win. Many in his situation, given the immense pressure he was facing, would have made it known they were playing hurt, but instead, he kept his injury quiet and did everything in his power to try and get this team into the playoffs.
Pacioretty Nominated for King Clancy
While the 2021-22 season on ice was a bit of a frustrating one for Pacioretty, his work and leadership throughout both the community and the locker room did not go unnoticed by those in the Golden Knights organization. That was proven by the fact that the team chose him as their nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy this past week.
For those unaware, each team submits one candidate for the King Clancy, which has been given out annually since the 1987-88 season. It is given to the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.” The 33-year-old has made several contributions to the Las Vegas community, including helping supply teachers with teaching supplies at the beginning of the school year.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Yahoo Sports, Las Vegas Chronicle, Oil On Whyte, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.