NHL superstars roundtable: Is the Vegas Flu real?

Have you ever wondered what NHL players regret spending money on — and who learned that a $ 3,000 suit doesn’t look much different than one found at a department store? Imagine if we let NHL players pretend to be commissioner for a day: What change would they implement to make the game better? Looking back, was the Vegas Flu real? Any idea of what to name the Seattle team?

Glad you were wondering, too. In this mega roundtable, ESPN polled NHL superstars for their opinions on these questions. Here’s what the players had to say:


With time to reflect, how real was the Vegas Flu?

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks center: If I’m being serious, I think Vegas just played well; every game they had a chip on their shoulder. It was a tough building to play in, and they fed off that energy. Regardless, if other teams were having too much fun in Vegas or not, they were a really good team that was tough to play against.

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Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils winger: Looking back, I just think Vegas was a much better hockey team than everyone thought. I think the playoffs really proved that it wasn’t really the Vegas Flu, they were just a good hockey team. They were beating teams with their speed and their skill, and I don’t think it was because guys were partying in Vegas.

Max Domi, Montreal Canadiens center: It was totally different there. I remember the last game we played in Vegas, on the way to the game — I had a routine, it wasn’t going to throw me off too much, but I want to play one hand of blackjack before I play hockey. Just one hand, and I did it. I lost.

Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks defenseman: They were riding some momentum, and they were a good team and playing the right way. I don’t think anyone expected it, which made it even sweeter for those guys. We flew in the day of the game. We were avoiding it, I guess, at all costs in our organization, which is OK. It’s a short flight, so it wasn’t that bad. But it’s a fun place to stay the night. Really nice hotels, really nice restaurants, besides people saying, “Oh, you’re going out all the time.” It’s just a nice city.

Anders Lee, New York Islanders winger: We didn’t catch it, thankfully. We might have gotten the sniffles, but we came out on top in Vegas. We just handled it like professionals, go in and do the right thing. Thankfully we got in a few days early, so we were able to go out as a team and have fun, but we were able to get back to business and go about the game.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars center: No, I don’t think so. I think they were just a good team and good on home ice, but I don’t think many teams went out the night before games. Maybe stayed [after the game] and went out, sure.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights goalie: For visiting teams, yeah. They were probably looking for some reasons of why they lost.

Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks center: It was really tough; we knew that first-hand. We did have some good games there, but it’s a really electric building. The fans are crazy. They are right on top of you; it’s crazy loud in there.

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars winger: Yeah, it was real.

“Don’t buy two houses at the same time,” Rangers winger Chris Kreider says of his younger days. “I found that out the hard way.” Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

What’s one piece of financial advice you wish you knew as a rookie? Any purchase you regret?

T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals winger: Probably not pick up as many tabs as you did. Maybe save some money in the bank. I was pretty generous. I had a lot of friends. To me, I didn’t grow up with a lot of money, so if I spent it on my buddies, I was fine with it. I guess I still am fine with it, but once you get a wife and you have kids, you realize you want to be able to leave them something, maybe a little more than you wanted to pick up your buddies’ burgers and beers. I wish I would have saved a little more, but I still have a little room to get something going for the kids for when I’m gone.

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers winger: Be smart. Don’t buy two houses at the same time. I found that out the hard way.

Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks winger: I was in Atlanta, which was like the black Hollywood, right? I bought some jewelry when I was younger. I got some watches that probably weren’t the best purchases, but I learned pretty quickly after that.

Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs center: I think I’ve made pretty decent financial decisions so far. Is there one purchase I regret? I got bored this year and started hoarding random things for my apartment, just random stuff just for show. Like, it’s there, but why do you have that? What’s the need for a sign that you can put letters and words in, and light it up with a saying in there? Just because I was bored scrolling through online shopping. [When asked what he put on the sign, Matthews said: “‘Oh, for sure’ with a beer glass. Just super Canadian. I love when guys say, ‘Oh, for sure.'”]

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Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman: Get a financial advisor. Someone who can oversee your finances for you. Not tell you what to do with them — you should have control of your own money — but give you a general idea of where to put your money and general ideas of where to invest it and that type of thing.

Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche center: You don’t need a $ 3,000 suit to look good. They all look the same. I’m buying way cheaper suits now than I was when I was 18 or 19, for sure. Get them at Neiman Marcus.

Benn: Buy used. Used everything. Vehicles, boats.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals center: Spend it all! Enjoy the life. You have to learn from your mistakes. I did learn from my mistakes, and that’s the best part of my life. I used to buy a lot of cars, but then I stopped. I enjoyed that time. But I got to understand that when I was young. You have to be smart, and you have to listen to your parents. It’s hard to always listen to your parents before you have a kid, but when you have a kid, you start listening to your parents and listen differently.

Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators center: I bought a fancy car my third year in the league. A Ferrari. But I definitely don’t regret that.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins defenseman: Save, save, save. Save your money. [Defensive partner Zdeno Chara] is big on that. He’s been around a long time, he’s made a lot of money, and he’s pretty good about spending. He lectured me one time on agent fees. We were sitting in the cold tub, [and I said], “I think it’s standard everyone’s agent gets 3 or 4 percent.” He said, “You gotta tell your agent, like I did, 1 percent or I’ll go find a new one.” Or something like that.

Seguin: What’s that line? If it floats, flies or something else, rent it? I guess I spent money on some cars that I should have leased, but … I love cars.

Hall: I don’t spend a whole lot of money. I don’t think I’m cheap by any means, but I’m not a big spender. So if there’s anything I could say, it would be to spend a little more and enjoy it a little bit more.

“Spend it all! Enjoy the life. You have to learn from your mistakes. I did learn from my mistakes, and that’s the best part of my life. I used to buy a lot of cars, but then I stopped. I enjoyed that time. But I got to understand that when I was young.” Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov

If you could make one rule change to make the NHL better, what would it be?

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers center: I’d make goalie equipment smaller. As long as they’re protected, that’s the main thing, because guys shoot the puck so hard now. But it doesn’t make sense for a goalie to be 160 pounds and when he gets out there, he looks like he’s 250. A skating player can’t fake how big he is.

Kreider: I love that they keep making the goaltender’s equipment smaller. If they could keep doing that … goalies are so good now.

John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs center: I don’t know about a rule change, but I’d like to see the rink just a hair bigger. Not very much [wider], just five feet or two feet just [longer] to give a bit more space.

Matthews: Bigger nets, for more goals. That’s what everyone wants to see, right?

MacKinnon: No icing the puck on the penalty kill. That could improve goal scoring and takes more of a skill to get the puck out.

Oshie: [Teammate Braden Holtby] is going to hate me for this, but I think the chest protectors, if there’s a way to get those a little bit smaller. I think the pads are small enough. Typically, it’s the chest protectors that are saving so much. When you go to shoot, and there’s just this huge chest in front of you, you can’t get around. The goalies are so good these days, and they’re so fast with their reflexes, that I think just slimming down the chest protectors a little bit would bring more goals in. Not more than you think, but the shots that are good shots will go in as opposed to a good shot not going in because a pad is too big.

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Kane: I would say the “boxing out” in front of the net is really just interference. It takes away scoring opportunities, and it’s interference. It’s not boxing out.

Horvat: Maybe not a game every day. Maybe spread it out a little more.

Kuznetsov: Nothing. I like the way it is right now. Everyone keeps talking they want to change something, but I think we have a good balance right now. But some of those TV timeouts? I would cancel them. They just kill the game. It’s like one minute you sit in the bench, sometimes you want to go for a skate, and the referee say you can’t, so those TV timeouts kill the game.

Jones: You should be able to kick pucks in. I think that’s a skill. If you’re able to kick a puck in around the net, that’d be my change. It’s using your body. Not using your hands — you shouldn’t be able to throw it in. But kick it in.

Hall: I think they’re going in the right direction making goalie equipment smaller. I think it’s really good for the game. Some of the goalies look so big in net, then you see them off the ice and they’re like 160 pounds. As long as the goalies are protected, I think we’re going in the right direction.

McAvoy: I think USA hockey is trying this out, with their ADM, but you can no longer ice the puck when you’re shorthanded. I think that would be a crazy twist because penalty killing, obviously five on four, a great opportunity to score. But as penalty killers, you get fatigued. Usually the average shift is about 20 seconds, you ice the puck and you get off because you don’t want to risk getting stuck out there and being tired. So if you couldn’t ice the puck, take that out of it, I think you’d see a lot of fatigued players and a lot more goals.

Benn: I want smaller sticks for the goalie. Chop their sticks off above their blocker. I tell that to [Stars goalie Ben Bishop] every day.

Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings center: No icing. Maybe a two-minute penalty for icing. That would make for more power plays.

Matt Duchene, Ottawa Senators center: I think we got a little out of hand with the challenges. Maybe just alter it a little bit. I think it messes with the linesmen sometimes and the referees. It doesn’t let them do their job quite as well. I’m sure they liked it the old way, too, where they had the final say.

Will the Seattle expansion team use a color scheme similar to the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds? Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

What would you name the Seattle team? Any suggestions on color scheme?

Jones: Supersonics. And bring a basketball team back, too.

Matthews: Supersonics. And get basketball back, too. I like the WHL team’s colors, the Thunderbirds, or the Seahawks, that navy and neon combo.

Tavares: Probably not the Supersonics. Maybe the Storm. I’d do something along the lines of the Seahawks [for colors], something in the same scheme: green, neon green. That would be interesting.

Oshie: The Totems. There’s a history there, with the Totems. My youth coach went on to create a junior team there called the Totems. When you drive around, even if you’re not on a reservation, you see totems there. So I think it’s something that’s pretty native to the area.

Jaccob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman: They were the Metropolitans before, but I think that’s too long. Names are tough. I’m not good with names, but … the Tropics?

MacKinnon: I’m not the most creative guy. Maybe the Sonics, because they don’t have a basketball team anymore. They could be teal, blue.

Johansen: The Sonics? The Seattle Sonics? It’s a great name.

Kuznetsov: I’ve never been to Seattle, so I don’t know. Seattle SeaDogs? I would like some blue probably, like light blue color. There are too many dark colors in the league. You need something else. Gold color, something like that.

Duchene: Gee, I don’t know. There are some cool things about that city. I’ve never been. I’ve heard it’s awesome, so I’m not too sure what their big thing will be. I think they should go the same theme as the Seahawks, that green and blue. That would look really cool.

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