Vegas Golden Knights are proof why Kellerman’s comments are way off mark

Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates a goal against the Dallas Stars. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Max Kellerman clearly hasn’t done his homework on the Vegas Golden Knights.

If you are not on social media then you probably would have missed the foolish comment made by the ESPN personality that insulted the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL.

Speaking on First Take, Kellerman was engaging with Stephen A. Smith, another notable talking head that divides opinion, over the mess that is Major League Baseball.

But, when trying to make his point, Kellerman decided to take an unnecessary and, quite frankly, uneducated swipe at hockey and the NHL.

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The money quote was “No one really cares about hockey.”

Now, Kellerman did preface that comment with “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” but we all know that just means you are going to proceed and hurt someone’s feelings or offend someone anyway.

The clip itself went viral on social media and rightly sparked outrage among the hockey community, with some notable NHL’ers coming out to call out Kellerman.

Philadelphia Flyers star and Captain Claude Giroux was one headline current player to come out and defend his sport, while other TV personalities also took offense at Kellerman’s comments.

The fact that Kellerman stated his belief that hockey isn’t one of the four major sports in the US is laughable anyway, but even more so when you consider that ESPN is currently trying to bid millions in order to get hockey back on its channels.

I wonder how ESPN bigwigs reacted to one of their star assets take a shot at a sport they clearly want back in on.

And the fact that Kellerman, who is a self-confessed boxing nut, has the cheek to take shots at hockey considering the state of boxing and its standing among sports in this country is just ridiculous.

Of course, and sadly, Kellerman isn’t the only ESPN personality to show a complete lack of respect to this great game of ours.

In the wake of the NHL announcing its Return To Play Plan, the great Michael Wilbon took to PTI to rip the NHL, stating that the 24-team format was confusing.

Now, I love and greatly respect Wilbon but his comments struck me as someone moaning about something for the sake of it, while not having any knowledge of the sport he was talking about.

Because, for any self-respecting hockey fan out there, there isn’t anything really that confusing about the NHL’s Playoff format.

As has been clearly stated by hockey experts such as the outstanding Pierre LeBrun, the Play-In games and the round-robin tournaments are NOT considered part of the postseason, so the Stanley Cup Playoffs will STILL be contested by 16 teams.


But, before I move on, I’ll give credit where credit is due because Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, the two main NHL writers for ESPN, do a fantastic job covering the league.

Anyway, I digress. Back to Kellerman and his naive comments.

Let’s delve into the cold, hard facts to prove why Kellerman had a seriously bad case of judgement when trying to make a point on national TV.

Firstly, the NHL is currently a $5 billion-plus business and that will only increase once a new TV deal is agreed upon.

The New York Rangers, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins are all valued over $1 billion according to Forbes, as are Montreal and the Toronto Maple Leafs in Canada.

Flagship events such as the Winter Classic attract a boatload of attention, while Kellerman’s comments that TV ratings aren’t there for the NHL are outrageous when you consider that Game 7 of the 2018-19 Stanley Cup Finals had the highest TV ratings in America of the last decade.

Then look at supposedly small markets such as Nashville and Tampa Bay where hockey has absolutely flourished.

Roman Polak #45 of the Dallas Stars skates the puck against the Nashville Predators during the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl.
Roman Polak #45 of the Dallas Stars skates the puck against the Nashville Predators during the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Cotton Bowl. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

I mean, just go back to the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals in Nashville when Music City absolutely hit a home run when it came to making the event a true spectacle.

And look at the Golden Knights. Since Vegas was awarded an NHL franchise, the Knights have absolutely dominated the sport in more ways than one.

On the ice they made a stunning run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural year, while they boast a 100% record when it comes to making the postseason.

And, off the ice, the Golden Knights are well on their way to establishing themselves as a hockey powerhouse, with fans packing out T-Mobile Arena on a game-to-game basis while Vegas dominates TV ratings even for games they aren’t featured in.

Plus, with the MLB content on wreaking major damage to itself, the NHL has a chance to attract major eyes to the sport when it comes back.

After all, the Stanley Cup Playoffs are one of the most entertaining spectacle in sports and the addition of a round-robin tournament for top seeds and a best-of-five Play-In series for bubble teams will only serve to add another layer of craziness to the best time of the year.

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I probably shouldn’t let Max Kellerman’s boneheaded comments get to me but, as all hockey fans can attest to, the lack of respect we and this beloved sport of ours gets is beyond a joke.

Maybe if Kellerman actually tuned into a game then he will realise just how great and how popular hockey and the NHL really is in America.