‘Days like this are tough for fans’: Heartbreak for Vegas Golden Knights fans as Marchessault voices his disappointment

‘Days like this are tough for fans’: Heartbreak for Vegas Golden Knights fans as Marchessault voices his disappointment

The NHL’s free agency period began on Monday.

Several Vegas Golden Knights players, including Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier, Chandler Stephenson, Alec Martinez, Michael Amadio, Anthony Mantha, and Jiri Patera, have signed with new teams, causing disappointment among fans. The news follows the team’s recent trade of Logan Thompson and Paul Cotter.

On Monday, General Manager Kelly McCrimmon stated that he understands what fans are going through.

“Days like this are tough for fans and they’re not easy. The fans think they know our players. I know our players better than our fans do and I’ve got relationships with each of these guys. You have to respect their rights as unrestricted free agents. That’s the collective bargaining agreement. We didn’t trade these players. We tried to retain them. We’re not going to go into the weeds of what each contract negotiation was with each player but we were not after huge hometown discounts or anything like that. We made, I thought, real fair, reasonable offers,” McCrimmon said. “Part of the reason we won the Stanley Cup is we had so many players out-perform their contract. Well, when their contracts come due, they go and find market value. That’s the nature of the business. It hurts. We feel the same way that a lot of you do and a lot of our fans do. But again, it’s a part of the business that we have to respect and understand.”

Marchessault expressed displeasure to TSN, stating that he did not believe VGK did their utmost to keep him. However, McCrimmon claimed such was not the case.

“It couldn’t be further from the truth,” McCrimmon remarked. “Marchy is a fiery guy, so he might feel that way. I believe that anyone who knows me, Marchy, and our experience together in this company, as well as the value and regard we have for him, would disagree.”

The NHL raised the salary ceiling last month, giving teams extra money to pursue players in free agency. McCrimmon stated that the front office was aware of the impact this would have on player negotiations.

“This is a time where teams will look to shore up weaknesses from the previous year. When you look at some of the big spenders, it’s teams that are really trying to change course and made those corresponding moves to try and improve their team,” McCrimmon said. “We wanted to try to stay out of free agency because of the money that was being spent. Today felt like 2016. There was some money back in the system. There were a lot of contracts given out today that had big term and had big AAV … Traditionally, there’s a lot of mistakes made on July 1. Obviously, there’s a lot of situations where teams help their team by adding the right players at the right price but it doesn’t always work out with all of the transactions that happen on opening day.”

When questioned about future free agency activity and potential trades, McCrimmon stated both are possible.

“When we look at our team for next year, we believe we have a tremendously good goalkeeper, a great defense, and great centers. I believe we have some forwards on the wings who are prepared to take on more responsibility and larger roles,” McCrimmon remarked. “If you look back to the expansion year, it was all about guys coming in and receiving greater opportunities than the year before, regardless of where they played. We’ll see how that plays out, but we’re open to either option.”

Players departing the organization create opportunities for others to rise up. For example, on Monday, the Vegas Golden Knights agreed to two-year contract extensions for Kaedan Korczak and Pavel Dorofeyev.

“We expect in the case of Pavel, to really continue to blossom and the opportunity that he’s going to now have on our team and Kaedan Korczak will be a full-time NHL player this year,” according to McCrimmon. “Based on what we saw from his time with our team last year, he’s more than ready to step into an NHL lineup.”

The squad also signed goaltender Ilya Samsonov to a one-year contract worth $1.8 million.

“We did a lot of work on our goaltending with Sean Burke and Mike Rosati as well, who is in our organization evaluating goaltenders,” says McCrimmon. “Sean believes he’s a great goaltender who had a poor year and is an ideal candidate to bet on and bring in. “We had a similar mindset when we acquired Adin Hill.”

According to McCrimmon, while it is difficult to lose players who were integral to the team’s success, it is also important to focus on the future and construct the squad for next season.

“When you win a Stanley Cup, you’re going to have a connection to those people the rest of your life. Those are people that you’ll walk with forever. I know last year, when we would play teams in the playoffs that had our players on them, so when we played Winnipeg and we had Laurent Brossoit come into our locker room to present him with his Stanley Cup ring, when we gave Riley Smith his Stanley Cup ring at the White House, when we had Jonathan Quick come into our room and get his ring presented to him, those are really tremendous memories that aren’t changed by any of these things that happened,” McCrimmon said. “At the same time, we’re very excited about moving forward. We’re very excited to see what people can do that are going to get more opportunities, potentially, if we have more people come into the organization than what we are at presently. Those are all things that will play out. But our nucleus, the core of our dressing room, all of those things is still a very strong unit that’s made up of real good talent, real good people.”

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