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A year after missing the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s existence, the Vegas Golden Knights look to return under their third coach in six seasons.
Bruce Cassidy replaced Peter DeBoer after both were fired from their respective jobs after last season.
Cassidy arrives from Boston, where he had a record of 245-108-46 and led the Bruins to six straight playoff appearances.
DeBoer was fired on May 16 after Vegas missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
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Vegas added veteran Phil Kessel to bolster the offense, which took a hit when Max Pacioretty was traded to Carolina to make room under the salary cap.
Owner Bill Foley proclaimed “Playoffs in three, Cups in six” before the team’s inaugural season, adding a bit of pressure to Cassidy’s first season, which will also be Vegas’s sixth in the NHL.
HEALTH OF EICHEL
Jack Eichel, who in November became the first NHL player to undergo artificial disc replacement surgery in his neck, enjoyed a normal offseason and arrived at training camp healthy for the first time since the 2019 campaign. twenty.
“It’s nice to be healthy and have peace of mind knowing where I’d be in September and I’d have my health and I’d have a chance to have a training camp and preseason and move into a regular season,” Eichel said. who had 14 goals and 11 assists in 34 games with Vegas last season.
The only discomfort Mark Stone said he feels these days is the kind of pain he’s willing to put up with. Feeling recovered from a lumbar discectomy in May, the team captain said he appreciates the pain from daily workouts or practices.
“It’s in areas that are really stiff, using muscles that I didn’t really use for a full year,” said Stone, who missed 45 games last season. “It’s good to get that pain back in the legs and things like that.”
The 37 games he played last season were the fewest since the 2013-14 campaign, when he appeared in 19 games.
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PHIL AN EMPTY
After feeling “lost” the past few years in Arizona, Kessel said the opportunity to play for a team that wants to compete was enticing enough to drive him across the state line.
“I’m excited to be here, I’ve got a lot to prove,” said Kessel, who finished with a career-low eight goals along with 44 assists last season. “I am here to prove that I am the same me.”
Kessel has appeared in 982 consecutive NHL games, the longest active streak, and is seven shy of tying Keith Yandle’s record of 989. He is one goal away from becoming the 13th US-born player to score 400. goals in the NHL.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Off-season hip surgery ended goalie Robin Lehner’s season before it began, leaving general manager Kelly McCrimmon with a dilemma considering backup Laurent Brossoit’s status would be in question with his own off-season hip surgery. .
Logan Thompson, the 2019 AHL Goaltender of the Year, could be the top candidate to start. Thompson went 10-5-3 with a .914 save percentage in 19 appearances for Las Vegas last season.
Adin Hill, whom the Golden Knights acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks shortly before training camp, and journeyman Michael Hutchinson, who has had stops in Winnipeg, Florida, Colorado and Toronto, are also in camp.
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EYE TO THE SCHEDULE
If all goes according to plan, Kessel will tie Yandle’s record in Las Vegas on Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and break the record the following night in San Jose. The Knights’ longest home stay is seven games from January 5-21, while their longest road trip follows immediately from January 22-February 9. Cassidy will return to Boston on Dec. 5 and the Knights will host the Bruins. on December 11.