(Las Vegas) Bruce Cassidy has only been the coach of the Vegas Golden Knights for a year, but he knows the history of the “Unloved” very well.
In what turned out to be the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals, Cassidy sent five of the Knights’ original edition players into the fray to start the game. The sixth hit the ice the next shift in a 9-3 win over the Florida Panthers.
“These are the original players, aren’t they? The foundations of this team, Cassidy said Tuesday. It all started with them. They have been there since the beginning. Like me, they lost a final. I know how it feels then and I’m very happy for them. »
Cassidy lost Game 7 of the 2019 Finals to the St. Louis Blues while coaching the Boston Bruins.
This half-dozen Knights were from the 2017-2018 edition, which had nicknamed the Golden Misfits (“Golden Misfits”), since it was made up of players rejected by all the other NHL teams.
This team lost in five games to the Washington Capitals in the final. This time around, those players were an integral part of the roster that eliminated the Panthers in five games.
Jonathan Marchessault, one of the players who witnessed the Caps celebration on the ice at T-Mobile Arena, won the Conn-Smythe Trophy, given to the playoff MVP.
“We’ve waited a long time to relive that moment. We wanted to make sure we didn’t miss out this time around. »
Captain Mark Stone, as tradition has it, was the first to lift the Stanley Cup. He then passed the 37-pound trophy to Reilly Smith. Marchessault was next, before handing it over to William Karlsson, then Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore and William Carrier.
All but Stone were part of the first edition of the Knights.
“I don’t think we planned that,” Carrier said. The guys were calling the next one, it was unprepared. The guys have been here from the start; they fought. A lot of hockey has been played over the past six years, there have been several practices. So it’s to highlight this group of six guys who are still here. It means a lot. »
These six players have not only won a cup, but they have played in the team’s two finals, in addition to reaching the semi-finals at least four times.
Not too bad for players left unprotected by other NHL teams.
McNabb said the idea of winning the Stanley Cup didn’t even cross his mind when the team was formed. The Golden Knights selected him in the Los Angeles Kings expansion draft.
“I was only hoping to break through the formation,” he said.
McNabb started the game on the blue line with Theodore, the line of Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith in front of them. Carrier jumped on the ice at the first change.
“I won’t lie to you: it was pretty cool,” Karlsson said. It was good to give a nod to this group of players, to start the game with these original players. »
And they didn’t just make up the numbers. Smith scored a goal and added an assist. Theodore finished the game with three assists. McNabb, Marchessault and Karlsson were all partners in a goal. Only Carrier did not get on the mark, but he finished the game with a plus-1 differential.
Owner Bill Fowley had a goal of winning the Stanley Cup in six years. It’s mission accomplished, with several Unloved playing key roles, though the roster has seen significant changes over the years.
“2018 was a magical year,” Karlsson recalled. We had passed so close, unfortunately, we had come up short. But this team will always have a special place in my heart. I’m glad there are still six of us still here. To win for this first edition is incredible. »