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A year after missing the playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s existence, the Vegas Golden Knights are considering a return with their third coach in six seasons.
Bruce Cassidy replaced Peter DeBoer after the two were fired from their respective jobs after last season.
Cassidy arrives from Boston, where he was 245-108-46 and led the Bruins to six straight playoff appearances.
DeBoer was fired 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, Cup in six” ahead of the team’s inaugural campaign, adding some pressure to Cassidy’s first season, which will also be Vegas’ sixth in the NHL.
Jack Eichel, who in November became the first NHL player to undergo artificial disc replacement surgery on his neck, had a normal offseason and entered training camp healthy for the first time since the start of the season. 2019-2020 campaign.
“It’s good to be healthy and to have peace of mind knowing where I will be in September and I will be healthy and have the opportunity to have a training camp and a pre -season and prepare for a regular season,” said Eichel, who had 14 goals and 11 assists in 34 games for Vegas last season.
STONE IN GOLD
The only discomfort Mark Stone has said he feels these days is the kind of pain he’s willing to endure. Feeling recovered from a lumbar discectomy in May, the team captain said he was enjoying the pain from training or daily practice.
“It’s in areas that are pretty stiff, using muscles that I really haven’t used for a full year,” said Stone, who missed 45 games last season. “It’s nice to have that leg pain back and stuff like that.”
The 37 games he played last season were his fewest since the 2013-14 campaign, when he played 19 games.
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After feeling “lost” the past few years in Arizona, Kessel said the opportunity to play for a team that wanted to fight was enticing enough to get him across the state line.
“I’m thrilled to be here, I have a lot to prove,” said Kessel, who finished with eight career goals and 44 assists last season. “I’m here to prove it’s the same me.”
Kessel has played 982 consecutive NHL games, the longest active streak, and is seven shy of equaling Keith Yandle’s record of 989. He is one goal away from becoming the 13th American-born player to score 400 NHL goals.
Off-season hip surgery ended goalkeeper Robin Lehner’s season before it started, leaving general manager Kelly McCrimmon in a dilemma as Laurent Brossoit’s status would come into question with his own off-season hip surgery.
Logan Thompson, the 2019 AHL Goaltender of the Year, could be the leading candidate to start. Thompson was 10-5-3 with a .914 save percentage in 19 appearances with Vegas last season.
Adin Hill, who the Golden Knights acquired in a trade from the San Jose Sharks shortly before training camp, and journeyman Michael Hutchinson, who made stops in Winnipeg, Florida, Colorado and Toronto, are also at the camp.
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LOOK AT THE CALENDAR
If all goes according to plan, Kessel will tie Yandle’s mark in Las Vegas on Oct. 24 against the Toronto Maple Leafs and break the record the following night in San Jose. The Knights’ longest homestand is seven games from Jan. 5 to Jan. 21, while their longest road trip immediately follows from Jan. 22 to Feb. 9. Cassidy will return to Boston on December 5 and the Knights will host the Bruins on December 11.