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Golden Knights At The NHL Combine: Running Blog

Follow along in real time as the Golden Knights are in Buffalo for the first NHL Combine in team history

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

This week, the Vegas Golden Knights are attending the NHL Combine in Buffalo for the first time in team history.

With the NHL Entry Draft now only three weeks away, this is the team's final chance to evaluate the prospects that will be available in Chicago.

VegasGoldenKnights.com is on the scene to provide an on-the-fly chronicling of the team's activity these final two days.

Saturday: 8:59 PM (ET)

Our group has wrapped it up here in Buffalo and is en route back to Las Vegas. Especially with the Expansion Draft (June 21) and Entry Drafts (June 23-24) only three weeks away, our hockey staff is going to begin hunkering down in Las Vegas to make the final preparations.

Before we put a wrap on the week, Jay Mellette had one final message as we finish our first-ever trip to the NHL Combine.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: ������ out, Buffalo. Thanks for the hospitality! pic.twitter.com/SUj8n0ITcz

 

Saturday: 4:52 PM (ET)

While we've been busy in Buffalo, we just got word that our third Sticks For Kids drew more than 1,000 signups for first-time hockey players. These kids, ages 5-15, came out to Anthem Hills Park today despite the blazing temperatures, playing street hockey while it was more than 100 degrees outside.

This brings the total to about 3,000 signups across the first three Sticks For Kids events we've held over the past two weeks.

Hearing this is the sort of thing that really has us enthused for hockey's future in Las Vegas.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: With more than 1,000 Las Vegas kids playing hockey for the first time today at Sticks For Kids, it was a great day for hockey in our city������ pic.twitter.com/wbMrjgBFif

 

Saturday: 3:47 PM (ET)

For the past few hours, attendance at the combine has started to thin out, although George McPhee, director of sports performance Jay Mellette and strength and conditioning coach Doug Davidson have barely left the arena floor.

At this point, we're almost done with tests for the day, while much of the hockey people around seem to be shifting some focus to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, starting in an hour.

The internet, meanwhile, continues to be fascinated with #bikeguy

 

Tweet from @emiIysowa: can bike guy come motivate me to study for exams or https://t.co/0ovyB52eZQ

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: LRT"Get the highlighter out."As happy as #bikeguy is that Lauren's doing her chores, he'd be even happier if Emily studied for her exams pic.twitter.com/jyS1xu6vZE 

 

Saturday: 1:49 PM (ET)

While McPhee was speaking with the media, the fitness testing a few feet away didn't stop.

Since 7:30 this morning, groups of 12 have been going through every test, one group per hour.

Amongst the NHL teams, there is a lot of personnel breaking off with other members of their teams, as well as other teams. After all, the hockey world is an awfully small place. And while teams are in compeition to beat each other, everyone generally knows everyone.

The chatter among the hockey team staffs has been rather quiet, but obviously very diligent. 

Guys don't want other guys hearing what they're talking about, after all. The conversations seem to be an even mix of hockey conversations and social calls.

Meanwhile, #bikeguy has continued to get internet attention.

Especially as he provided a special message to a @GoldenKnights Twitter follower, Lauren, who told us earlier this morning that she wished someone like #bikeguy could motivate her to do her chores.

 

Tweet from @lowlz2913: I want that guy to yell at me to do my chores

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: LRT: Lauren said she wishes #bikeguy was telling her to do her chores. He was listening. pic.twitter.com/1CwyhRa7tJ

 

Saturday: 12:57 PM (ET)

McPhee spoke with the media for a little more than 20 minutes. While the NHL Combine and preparing for the NHL Entry Draft are the reasons that McPhee is in Buffalo, most of the questions were geared toward his Expansion Draft plans and potential trades.

Among the highlights of McPhee's remarks were....

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: George McPhee provides insight into the philosophy he'll use to build our roster. pic.twitter.com/FeYqqW73qD

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: "There will be some deals." --McPhee

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: "You try to do the best deal you can on a team by team basis."--McPhee

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: "We have a lot of teams that are offering us big contracts...we'll take a few of those, for the right price." --McPhee

 

Saturday: 12:34 PM (ET)

George McPhee has arrived to chat with the media. Needless to say, there is a rather large scrum of reporters surrounding him.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: George McPhee is currently addressing the media at the #NHLcombine. pic.twitter.com/se0EEUImJQ

 

Saturday: 11:04 AM (ET)

While the NHL Combine is incredibly busy for our hockey operations staff, we've also been getting it going on Snapchat.

To get some exclusive looks into our first NHL combine, follow along with us on Snapchat at Golden.Knights.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: We're also live on Snapchat this morning. Head over to Golden.Knights on Snapchat to see what we're up to. #BoldInGold pic.twitter.com/bTv11MTOH5

 

Saturday: 10:09 AM (ET)

We tried to pay attention to other things, but just couldn't.

#bikeguy was just too compelling.

As soon as we thought we were out of following him, he pulled us right back in.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: What We Learned This Morning: Even if you're a top prospect like Nico Hischier, being yelled at by #bikeguy helps you perform at #NHLcombine pic.twitter.com/EbYyUagNUs

 

Saturday: 8:37 AM (ET)

The fitness tests started shortly after 7:30, with only NHL teams' hockey operations staff and some media scattered across the bleachers.

Although on the rink floor, where the tests are held, there's a long table the length of an NHL ice surface where some executives, such as George McPhee, can line up for up-close viewings of the tests.

The person that VegasGoldenKnights.com has taken the most notice of isn't a prospect or even a member of any team's staff.

It's #bikeguy.

We're told Jordan is his actual name, although #bikeguy seems a bit catchier.

#bikeguy is a combine employee who oversees the bike testing. 

All we can say is...this guy's enthusiasm has won us over.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: "Show me a winner now."That's not your Saturday morning wakeup call. It's just the beginning of today's fitness tests as the #NHLCombine. pic.twitter.com/nnjuthsjdP

Saturday: 7:08 AM (ET)

HarborCenter is the Buffalo Sabres' new(ish) practice facility, located adjacent to the arena. Over the past 3-5 years, it's really stunning to see the manner in which Sabres owner Terry Pegula has transformed the downtown area.

In places that used to be empty lots, he's built luxury hotels.

In spots that used to be city afterthoughts, he's built a downtown core, really revitalizing the area around the Sabres's arena.

The crown jewel of this construction is HarborCenter, which has been the home of the NHL Combine since 2015.

This morning at HarborCenter, from a Golden Knights standpoint, it's a particularly important day for director of sports performance Jay Mellette and strength and conditioning coach Doug Davidson, who'll be front and center as Vegas evaluates players' tests.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Early here in Buffalo (and pretty late back in Vegas��) as Jay Mellette sets the stage for today's #NHLCombine fitness tests. #BoldInGold pic.twitter.com/MaHGyjK8Bq

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: A look at the floor at the #NHLCombine, where final preparations are being made ahead of the start of today's fitness tests. pic.twitter.com/ffDkfjCDU3

 

Saturday: 6:16 AM (ET)

After some dinnertime meetings last night, most of the Golden Knights staff went to bed early. It's been an awesome, although very tiring week, and we all wanted to be at our best for the final day here.

The staff is just meeting in the lobby now and taking the quick trip over to the arena.

Friday: 5:15 PM (ET)

It's been 65 degrees and very pleasant in Buffalo, a far cry from the desert heat in Las Vegas.

With official team business for the day now concluded, most of the staff elects to enjoy the outdoors and walk the 20 minutes or so back to the hotel.

There will be a few internal meetings this evening to discuss what the team will be looking for during the fitness tests tomorrow. But for the most part, Friday is wrapped up.

We'll meet in the lobby early tomorrow morning once again, to begin the final day of the Combine.

Friday: 4:42 PM (ET)

This whole time, the Golden Knights staff has continued interviewing prospects in its arena suite.

The team seems generally optimistic about how the process is run, although probably also a bit excited to see the interview sessions give way to the fitness tests tomorrow.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Golden Knights scout Erin Ginnell updates the status of our team's first visit to the NHL Combine. pic.twitter.com/J4iJcvvwJO

 

Friday: 3:31 PM (ET)

The main event of the fan festivities outside is a meet and greet with some of Central Scouting's top ranked prospects.

The five players who've been selected have just finished a brief session with media, arranged within one of the league's trailers, out of sight to the public.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: 21 days before we make our 1st selection in the NHL Entry Draft, the NHL's top prospects are now meeting with fans at the NHL Combine. pic.twitter.com/udy5ZCXSPL

 

This is followed by the same five players being introduced on stage and beginning an autograph session with fans.

 

Friday: 2:50 PM (ET)

As the team's interviews continue inside of Key Bank Center, a different scene is developing outside.

In a less serious portion of the festivities, the NHL has assembled a fan fest in the arena's Alumni Plaza.

This is open to fans.

While a good portion of them seem to be attracted to the visiting Stanley Cup or an interactive street hockey rink, we're more focused on one of the league's trailers.

After all, it's been amended to have 31 team logos on it.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: The NHL trailer has made a �� addition since last year's combine. It's great to see our logo and be included. #BoldInGold pic.twitter.com/FtBfaZv370

 

Sorry for the extra work, NHL.

 

Friday, 1:20 PM (ET)

The team's staff is going through its interviews, rapid fire. There's usually a quick debriefing after an interview before the next player enters.

It is awfully interesting to see players who leave the suite pass other team's suites, where friends and maybe even some teammates wait to be called in by other squads.

This is the fifth straight day of this for the Golden Knights, and this has been going on for hours, minus a brief respite for lunch in one of the arena's clubs, where most team hockey ops staffs have chosen to dine.

During all of this, Director of Hockey Operations Misha Donskov stopped by to briefly chat with us during a respite in the action.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Director of Hockey Operations Misha Donskov checks in from outside our interview room with the status of today's meetings at the NHL Combine pic.twitter.com/1Vlw0itAdU

 

Friday, 8:55 AM (ET)

When players enter the Golden Knights staff, the team's staff stands. Handshakes and light greetings between the player and each Golden Knights representative follow, with interviews generally ranging in the 20-30 minute stretch.

"This" is what a player interviewing with the Golden Knights would see.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: The scene inside the Golden Knights interview room, where our hockey ops department is continuing to interview prospects at the NHL Combine. pic.twitter.com/lKj6ZPcsLt

 

Friday, 8:47 AM (ET)

It hasn't taken the Golden Knights long to get right down to business.

On the suite level of Key Bank Center, each NHL teams is assigned one of the arena's luxury suites. As you walk down the hall, team logos are emblazoned beside the door to designate.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Prospect interviews in progress... pic.twitter.com/HaJod2Egtk

 

Within the suites is where teams have been conducting their interviews with prospects all week. Today's the last day.

On this early Friday morning, about 10 members of the Golden Knights staff are inside, prepared to interview their first prospect of the morning.

As you walk down the hall outside the suites, there are single folding chairs left adjacent to the doorway.

On these chairs is where players sit and wait to be called in for some of the most important interviews of their lives.

It's quiet as the grave in the hallway and very businesslike, making the prospects waiting quietly in their chairs almost seem like kids waiting outside the principal's office.

 

 

Friday, 8:11 AM (ET)

It's been a long week for the Golden Knights.

The team's hockey staff has been in Buffalo for the NHL Combine for four days now, while select members of the team's business staff survived several travel delays to arrive in the wee hours this morning.

The team briefly congregates in the lobby of its downtown hotel, and is about to catch a shuttle for a quick ride over to Key Bank Center, the home of the Buffalo Sabres and most of the day's activities.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon sets the scene on the final day of NHL Combine prospect interviews here in Buffalo. pic.twitter.com/xzJBvtmwTU

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