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Shayna Goldman The Hockey Writers

Published on Thursday, April 20, 2017





NHL Risks Overshadowing Expansion Draft

The National Hockey League announced that the Vegas Golden Knights will reveal their selections from the expansion draft at the 2017 NHL Awards. The NHL Awards will be held at the home of the Golden Knights, T-Mobile Arena, on June 21. The Golden Knights’ 30 selections from the expansion draft that will contribute to the team’s inaugural roster will be announced during the awards show.

Golden Knights owner Bill Foley expressed his enthusiasm about the historic event.

“June 21 will be an incredible day for the city of Las Vegas and our fans,” Foley said. “The anticipation around the Expansion Draft has been building for months and that excitement will continue to grow as we get closer to Draft Day. By combining the draft with the NHL Awards, Golden Knights fans will get to experience a monumental day in our team’s history while enjoying one of the premier NHL events that features the game’s biggest stars.”

2017 Expansion Draft

All 30 clubs must disclose their protection lists with the league and Golden Knights by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 17. The teams’ protection and availability lists must comply with the requirements set by the NHL, including a minimum number of exposed players meeting certain parameters.

The Golden Knights must finalize their selections and submit them to the league by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20.

There has already been negative publicity surrounding the expansion draft, as general managers recommended the league not publish protection lists in an effort to avoid further damage to relations with players they expose.

Had the league complied with that request, it would be at the expense of the fans, which would have been disappointing since the poor relationships have been caused by the general managers’ handling of the arbitration process.

Foley echoed the general managers’ sentiments about wanting the lists to be private.“I’d rather ‘we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise… I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks – particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise.”

“I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise… I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks–particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise.”

While his idea of drama making the draft exciting for fans is not necessarily inaccurate, it would take away from the overall fan experience and detract from the national attention the Golden Knights should receive. As the owner of a team, his concerns should be more focused on how it would affect the team and the fan, rather than the drama.

Both the general managers and Foley seemed to overlook that the NHL and Golden Knights are a part of an entertainment business. By fans being given something tangible and including them in the process, it would only expand the draft’s promotion–which should be the priority.

Ultimately the NHL decided that the protection lists would be publicized. This allows the league to control the narrative, since this information would inevitably leak and circulate to fans and players–negating both reasons Foley and the general managers wanted the lists to remain private. The transparency of the process not only highlights the NHL, but the Golden Knights.

Golden Knights Sharing the Spotlight

The Golden Knights sharing the spotlight with the NHL Awards when much of their long-anticipated inaugural roster will be announced is peculiar. Foley specifically wanted a dramatic process to draw in fans. Now, they will have to wait between awards to find out the draft selections, which may not be the type of drama or excitement Foley intended.

The decision is also perplexing because Foley was so reactive about the Oakland Raiders announcing their relocation to Vegas. Although he originally made a statement that welcomed the Raiders to Vegas, he soon after expressed his frustrations about it–including how he “would not have opted to have the Raiders come here” if he had control of the situation. And Foley stressed how the Golden Knights “are really Las Vegas’ original team” and “the first major league sports team in Las Vegas.”

For an owner that was so incensed over the Raiders joining the Golden Knights in Las Vegas, especially because it overshadowed his team, it seems odd that he would be willing to commemorate the announcements of the selections from the expansion draft during another major event.

Had the NHL decided to create a separate event for the Golden Knights, it would certainly generate attention–and not just from Vegas fans, but from fans around the league. Every fan has an interest in the Golden Knights because the expansion draft affects every team.

Besides the draft, there are other anticipated transactions surrounding the draft that will capture the attention of fans. Elliotte Friedman explained how the 72 hours before the Golden Knights submit their selections are expected to be exciting because “the Golden Knights’ George McPhee let everyone know [at the general managers’ meetings] that once the lists are handed to him, it’s an auction for any unprotected player another team might want.”

George McPhee, General Manager of Vegas Golden Knights

The focus will not be solely on the Golden Knights, which has been Foley’s primary interest since the Golden Knights’ inception. By making the announcements in conjunction with the NHL Awards, it is appearing that the NHL’s agenda of the promotion of the awards is the priority rather than the Golden Knights.

The league has complicated things along the way of the Golden Knights’ expansion process. The NHL could have announced its intentions to publicize the protection lists sooner, rather than letting fans doubt what they have anticipated since the league announced their expansion to Vegas. Instead, it created negative energy towards the league, general managers, and even to the Golden Knights.

Now, the NHL is combining the expansion draft with their awards more likely to promote their entity rather than as a way to facilitate the success of the Golden Knights. The Golden Knights deserve a special event dedicated to the Golden Knights’ announcement, just as the draft lottery and entry draft receive. If the NHL wants to support their newest franchise the focus should be solely on that team, rather than its own interests.

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