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Screen Shots: Vegas' Goalie Problem, Hockey Quebec and Flyers Prospects Stuck in Russia

Adam Proteau returns with Screen Shots to talk about where the Vegas Golden Knights go now to address their goalie situation, Hockey Quebec's investigation into racism accusations and the latest surrounding two Flyers prospects in Russia.
Ivan Fedotov

Hello again, and welcome to another edition of Screen Shots, a regular THN column where we break down a few hockey topics into smaller bytes. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

– It has to be devastating for the Vegas Golden Knights to lose their starting goalie, Robin Lehner, for the entire 2022-23 season after the veteran underwent hip surgery. Backup Laurent Brossoit is in no way the answer in net for Vegas; three times, in limited action in the past five years, the 29-year-old Brossoit has posted a save percentage of .895 or lower. He’s also coming off an injury.

After that, Vegas’ goaltending depth chart has 25-year-old Logan Thompson, who has all of 20 games of NHL experience, and journeyman Michael Hutchinson, who is 32 and now on his fifth NHL team. Hutchinson has more experience – 137 NHL games – than Thompson, but there’s a reason why he was available and signed to a league-minimum-contract.

Good goaltending is a true rare commodity in today’s NHL, and Vegas now has the potential for a full-on calamity this season. No team is going to help them out by trading for a legitimate difference maker in net. Those kind of assets are too valuable to give up on. The best Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon can hope for is a young goalie at a crossroads with his current team, or a veteran whose performance hasn’t lived up to his salary – think Semyon Varlamov on Long Island, for instance.

The Golden Knights will have some salary cap space via Lehner’s $5-million salary on the injured reserve, but that won’t mean a lot if there aren’t any above-average goalies to trade for. McCrimmon has his work cut out for him, and he’ll be under the microscope as he tries to bolster his goaltending. All the efforts of star forwards Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and elite D-men Alex Pietrangelo won’t mean a thing if they don’t have a decent option between the pipes.

– It’s good to see Hockey Quebec launching an independent investigation into racism accusations in the Hockey Outaouais minor league. But there’s a larger point here – the fact that, despite the popular slogan “hockey is for everyone,” there’s a very long ways to go, in just about every league there is, before that is true. Far too many bigots believe hockey is only for people who look and act like they do, and that mindset is still poisoning too many minds.

Suppose Hockey Canada wasn’t such a disaster at the moment, dealing with sex scandals and Board of Governor's resignations. In that case, they might’ve been able to focus their energies on doing more, across the country, to make minorities more welcome and safer than they are right now. As demographics shift in North America, it is crucial to hockey’s long-term success that they find and fund programs that reach out to traditionally non-hockey-friendly communities and lay out a welcome mat for them. And they need to drive out racists who generally have no place in society, let alone a high-profile, high-status sport. Zero tolerance for hate in hockey.

– Finally, here’s hoping for the best for Philadelphia Flyers youngsters Ivan Fedotov and Mikhail Vorobyev, who are two victims of the millions of victims of the current heinous Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. Fedotov and Vorobyev, both 25 years old, have been conscripted into Russian war service. Still, both are currently in different-but-still-awful situations, and they deserve to be supported in every way possible.

Fedotov was reportedly arrested in July and charged with suspicion of evading military service, and his trial was expected to begin Thursday in Russia. He could spend as much as two years in prison if found guilty. Meanwhile, Vorobyev pleaded guilty to accusations of bribery while trying to evade war service. He faces up to 12 years in prison.

Clearly, this is outrageous. Vorobyev and Fedotov are athletes, not soldiers to be used as pawns in the madman Vladimir Putin’s psychotic power-grab attempts. We cannot let this baseless war fade into the background. The NHLPA and Professional Hockey Players’ Association should be doing everything in its power to set free those players, and protect all others unfairly connected to Russia’s war. If there ever was a reason to band together as a profession and a community and affect real change, this is it.

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