5/20/18 – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

An expansion team is going to the Stanley Cup Final. The flaming hot takes have been pretty funny which was to be expected if you could have possibly seen this coming.

I wish I was creative enough to see this coming because the schadenfreude is off the charts. I think once it was pointed out on Twitter that the twelve wins by the Vegas Golden Knights in one playoff run is more than the St Louis Blues have ever had in a single playoffs it hit me how funny this is.

I wrote that prior to the game and edited it to twelve afterwards. The Twitter reaction after the fact is even funnier. The revisionist history being thrown around is something to behold.

If I linked all the salty Tweets out there this would take all night. The number of people who genuinely believe Vegas drafted a stacked team is stunningly high.

William Karlsson had a 23.4% shooting percentage.

Marc-Andre Fleury had a .927 save percentage after a career .912 save percentage in his Pittsburgh Penguins career.

Erik Haula got power play time and scored with it after not getting any with the Minnesota Wild.

David Perron career’d at age 29 after not topping 50 points since 2014.

Dale Tallon inexplicably gave up Reilly Smith and Jon Marchessault.

James Neal had a normal James Neal season, and realistically could have been their best forward by a mile. He shouldn’t have even been in Vegas if the Nashville Predators had the good sense to trade him for anything rather than let him go for free.

Most of the salt is jealousy, but there will be many lessons taken from what Vegas has done when they inevitably walk to winning the Stanley Cup in the next two weeks. The most prevalent lesson going around Twitter now is that NHL General Managers are stupid. They aren’t, though some definitely are bad at their jobs (Tallon).

Two lessons that the Dallas Stars need to take away from this are to play fast (hello Jim Montgomery) and to trust the players you have identified as talented. This came into my timeline yesterday and stuck with me as I watched the Jets get eliminated earlier.

Too often the idea of developing players, employees, or anyone really is to punish for a mistake rather than emphasize the success. Flawed players only have their flaws pointed out so they work on becoming well-rounded players who fit into the traditional bottom six mold. They get discouraged from taking risks because they know if they take that risk and it fails they’re going to sit in the press box.

You can’t develop talent like that, at least not anymore. I mention teaching a lot, but I’ve seen it firsthand in my classroom. This year I’ve worked with kids who, outside of 16% of them, didn’t pass the 8th grade STAAR exam. Many of them have failed year after year. There are behavior issues, undiagnosed learning disorders, and kids who learned that if they shut up teachers will leave them alone. If I spent time focusing on what they couldn’t do instead of developing new skills we would never get anything done.

I can confidently say that 80% of my students can do actual Algebra now. I can also confidently say that 85% still can’t consistently solve problems with negatives, fractions, decimals, or lengthy word problems by hand. We adapt and work to their strengths to help them get what they need to graduate high school – to find success.

The kids are empowered to ask questions and find solutions. It builds confidence and lets them take ownership so they know it’s ok to take a risk by engaging in the class. If they screw up we learn from it as a group and keep moving. Being afraid to fail adds that extra pressure that doesn’t really help.

Vegas was in a prime position to not worry about that. No one expected them to do anything despite what some corners of Twitter will tell you. With no real expectations it’s easier to sell “make a mistake, it’s ok”, but NHL teams should take notice. Julius Honka, Jason Dickinson, Roope Hintz, and others like them deserve a shot to show that they really are as talented as the organization believes they are.

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