George McPhee was being interviewed by the local Fox Sports Radio affiliate Friday when the Golden Knights general manager was asked about forward Brandon Pirri and the fact that his name appeared on the American Hockey League transaction wire as being assigned to the Chicago Wolves the previous day, only to be recalled to Las Vegas less than two hours later.
“Well, there wasn’t a transaction,” McPhee said, “and so I don’t know where that is coming from. Um, and, so, nothing happened.”
Um, something happened, and it came from the AHL transaction list of which the Knights would have had to submit such information, so either McPhee had short-term memory loss or someone did it without his knowledge and needs to be fired.
Or he knew exactly what happened.
I’m going with that, because there is nothing McPhee doesn’t know about when it comes to his team.
Maybe it was the Transaction Fairy.
Maybe it was Chance.
By the way, each of the moves — Pirri going down and then coming back — was mysteriously removed from the AHL site Friday.
Or maybe it’s not that big a mystery when it comes to all things secretive in the NHL.
I know this: It’s a bigger issue than one set of transactions. It’s far bigger than Pirri, who while having played well in his time with Vegas, is with his fifth organization since 2009. Sorry, but complete players don’t move around that much.
He’s just the latest example by which there exists a disconnect between the Knights and those who cover them daily.
This isn’t some phenomenon unique to Las Vegas. Sports executives and many who work for them mostly exist within a sizable bubble of paranoia when it comes to releasing a shred of information regarding injuries or transactions or much of any news on players.
You want some real loons on this stuff? Think football coaches.
But what happens when details are hidden or skewed or outright lied about is this: What should be one story becomes 10. What could be a 24-news cycle becomes 72. What might be a short brief becomes a front-page column.
It occurs because those such as McPhee overthink the room to the point that what are really minor reports become mountains of rumor and speculation.
You might be among those who hate the media, who hate the guy writing this.
No problem. Join the party. I have plenty of emails supporting that stance.
Fans should care
But if you’re a fan of the Knights, among those who purchase tickets and merchandise and faithfully attend practices, know this: The less transparent McPhee and those who work under him are with us, the less truth you learn about the team you so staunchly support, financially and otherwise.
And you deserve that truth.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that McPhee and his executive staff respect Las Vegas media as overly hockey knowledgeable or savvy.
Trust me. They don’t. Not anyone.
That’s fine, too.
But what happened with the Pirri transaction nonsense and then something like Sharks superstar Erik Karlsson dismissing the media and refusing to answer questions after San Jose’s win Thursday at T-Mobile Arena is exactly why the NHL will always remain the fourth most popular sport in this country.
LeBron James might hate talking some nights, but you know what? He talks. So does Tom Brady.
The NHL lacks transparency in these matters and really doesn’t care, a byproduct of a commissioner in Gary Bettman who mostly comes off as arrogant as he does aloof. And with the Knights, it often puts coach Gerard Gallant in a terrible position of having to publicly support and deliver such obscure messages.
Who knows what happened Thursday with Pirri. Maybe a trade fell through. Maybe, as reported by the hockey website SinBin.vegas, the Knights were hoping to use a league rule involving an “emergency recall,” so as not to affect that 10-game limit in regard to exposing the player on waivers. Maybe the league blocked such an attempt.
Maybe it was something entirely different.
Maybe the fax machine was hijacked by Chance.
Pirri isn’t the issue. Those transactions aren’t the issue, nor is how McPhee answered a question about them.
(Well, that last part is actually a big one.)
Mostly, all of it is. Every last denial.
You can say it’s part of the culture in sports, specifically those on the professional side, more so in hockey than others. That’s always a popular excuse.
But there’s a disconnect between the Knights and those who cover them when it comes to this stuff, and it all begins at the top of the team’s executive chain.
You might not care.
But if you’re a fan who supports the team financially and otherwise, you should.
Contact columnist Ed Graney at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.