What is it like to play for an NHL Expansion Team?
Well, considering that the NHL hasn't expanded since the 2000-01 season, and only one active player - Marian Gaborik - played for an expansion team in its first season, there aren't too many men who can answer this question.
Brian Hayward, broadcaster for the Anaheim Ducks, is one of them.
Twenty-six years ago, Hayward was the goaltender for the expansion San Jose Sharks.
"I'd tell the goaltenders to do a lot of stretching," Hayward recently told #NHLFaceoffChat when asked about his advice for players who'll suit up for the inaugural Golden Knights next season.
Video: Brian Hayward discusses the Vegas Golden Knights
The inaugural Sharks that Hayward played for were one of the worst teams in NHL history. With a 17-58-5 record, the team was far and away the worst team in the NHL its first season, although it would improve to advance in the playoffs in both its third and fourth years in the league.
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As the goalie for those Sharks, Hayward was often a dartboard, routinely hung out to dry by the team's subpar defense.
But as Hayward has evolved into a longtime broadcaster in Anaheim, his expansion experience has become a source for wisdom as one of the few individuals intensely involved in today's NHL that has expansion experience to draw upon.
Although Hayward remembered his years with the inaugural Sharks as sometimes painful, his knowledge of today's game led him to suggest that the Golden Knights may not suffer from the same fate as their expansion predecessors.
"The new rules governing how you can protect players prior to the expansion draft are much more, I would say stricter on the current teams and more favorable for the new team in Las Vegas," Hayward said. "So I'd expect they'd be much more competitive than say the San Jose Shark team that I played on at the end of my career which was not really competitive at all.
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"Ottawa and San Jose come into the league at the same time. And both teams weren't very good at all.
"I think Vegas is going to do great."
Off Hayward's point, most expansion teams in the 1990s were pretty terrible in their first few seasons. Although many often improved rather quickly, such as the Florida Panthers who played in the Stanley Cup Final in their third season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning who won a cup by year 12, teams starting from scratch often faced a long road to contention.
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Recent NHL Expansion Teams In Their First Seasons
Florida Panthers: 33-34-17 (83 pts)
Anaheim Mighty Ducks: 33-46-5 (71 pts)
Columbus Blue Jackets: 28-39-9-6 (71 pts)
Minnesota Wild: 25-39-13-5 (68 pts)
Nashville Predators: 28-47-7 (63 pts)
Tampa Bay Lightning: 23-54-7 (53 pts)
San Jose Sharks: 17-58-5 (39 pts)
Atlanta Thrashers: 14-57-7-4 (39 pts)
Ottawa Senators: 10-70-4 (24 pts)
If the general consensus is that Vegas has a chance to be better than past expansion teams based on favorable draft rules, we ask you.
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Compared to recent expansion clubs, how do you think the Golden Knights will compare in their first season?