I’m not sure how many media members who cover the Golden Knights passed out from shock following a morning skate Thursday at City National Arena.
The exact carnage wasn’t immediately reported across social media, probably because Erik Brannstrom couldn’t somehow be entwined in the narrative.
But hours before a 4-2 victory against the Islanders before an announced gathering of 18,226 at T-Mobile Arena, Knights coach Gerard Gallant said defenseman Colin Miller would miss the game with injury.
Which wouldn’t for a team that has been hit in this manner so often lately be normally viewed as significant, if not for the mixed messages filtering from the Knights this past week about who’s playing and who’s not and who might be hurt and who could be a healthy scratch.
It became a real scene, man.
If you believe the policy on performance enhancing drugs is the NHL’s biggest joke — don’t strain yourself, it is — how countless teams handle the dispersal of injury and lineup information on a daily basis flirts with such laughable status.
Gallant on Sunday morning before a road game against the Rangers said he would no longer address injuries or the lineup, this after he insinuated forward Max Pacioretty could be a healthy scratch for the team’s game against New Jersey two days earlier.
The Knights later clarified Pacioretty’s status as he would miss the game with a minor injury, but the rumor and hysteria train had already reached Twitter.
It ranged from the player’s agent demeaning anyone who believed his client and that four-year, $28 million contract extension would ever be a healthy scratch to credentialed fan bloggers suggesting Pacioretty might be the subject of discipline for breaking team rules.
Pacioretty, injured at Columbus on Monday, has been placed on injured reserve.
“I didn’t create this mess, you know,” Gallant said Wednesday when supporting his policy of no longer discussing injuries.
Sure he did.
Or general manager George McPhee did by possibly having a word with his coach following those comments about Pacioretty.
Or the ridiculous, bizarre, ultra-paranoid culture of their sport when it comes to such things did.
Here’s the problem: The league doesn’t have a prescribed policy regarding any of this, leaving it to individual teams to handle matters as they see fit.
So unlike the NFL, where teams must provide accurate and specific injury reports to fans and media for practice, pregame and in-game, or the NBA, which must do the same the day before games, or even baseball and its various disabled lists, the NHL has no such set procedure.
Make it simple
It’s pretty much a free-for-all in hockey, with some teams choosing to be candid and forthright and others, like the Knights, incredibly inconsistent with what they offer.
Example: On the same day Gallant ran into trouble with how he chose to discuss Pacioretty, the Devils announced star Taylor Hall, last year’s Hart Memorial Trophy winner as league MVP who had been nursing a lower-body injury, would be a game-time decision.
That’s it. That’s all. He ultimately didn’t play.
Why can’t the Knights make things that simple?
You might not care. Many fans might not. But a lot do. And a lot who purchase tickets and merchandise while also making wagers around town really do.
That’s not to say a leading concern of Knights management should be providing information specifically for gaming — although I would vehemently argue the league’s antiquated stance in this area should dramatically change now that it has reached an agreement with MGM as a betting partner — but they should at least offer the resemblance of being on the same page throughout the organization.
The mess that Gallant spoke of this week?
The Knights created it. Him, McPhee, a commitment to that ridiculous, bizarre, ultra-paranoid culture of their sport.
Who knows. Maybe all played a part.
But what occurred afterward is just your basic ode to social media frenzy, all of which could have been avoided had the Knights borrowed a page from those who know how to handle these things best: Just leave it at a game-time decision.
Easy enough, yes?
Contact columnist Ed Graney at email@example.com 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.