Bruce Cassidy has been the Golden Knights’ coach for only a year, but he knows full well the history of the Misfits.
So in the game that would win the Stanley Cup for Vegas, Cassidy started five of the original Knights and sent the sixth one in for the second shift Tuesday night in a 9-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.
“They’re the original guys, right?” Cassidy said. “They’re the foundation of this hockey team. The first building blocks started with them. They’ve been here since the beginning. They lost in a final like I did. I know how that feels, so very happy for them.”
Cassidy lost in Game 7 of the 2019 final to the St. Louis Blues when he coached the Boston Bruins.
The half-dozen Knights were on the 2017-18 team that dubbed itself the Golden Misfits because it was a collection of players from all over the NHL.
The original Knights fell in five games to the Washington Capitals in the final. This time, they were an integral part of the championship team that knocked off the Panthers in five games.
Jonathan Marchessault, one of the players who watched the Capitals party on the T-Mobile Arena ice, won the Conn Smythe Trophy for playoff MVP.
“We waited a long time for that moment to come back,” Marchessault said. “We wanted to make sure we cashed in this time.”
Captain Mark Stone, as is tradition, was the first to skate with the Stanley Cup. Then he handed the 37-pound trophy to Reilly Smith, and soon after it was passed it to Marchessault and then to William Karlsson and then to Brayden McNabb and then to Shea Theodore and finally to William Carrier.
All, except Stone, are original Knights.
“I don’t think we thought about that or planned that,” Carrier said. “It was just off the call, guys calling out to one another, not well planned. The guys have been here, they’ve been battling. It’s been a lot of hockey the last six years, a lot of practices, so it’s a credit to this group of six guys that are still here. It means a lot.”
Those six have not only won the Stanley Cup, but played in the final twice, and made the NHL semifinals at least four times.
Not a bad resume from players mostly left unprotected from other teams.
McNabb said the thought of winning the Stanley Cup wasn’t even on his mind when the team was formed. Vegas picked him up in the expansion draft from the Los Angeles Kings.
“I was just hoping to make the team,” McNabb said.
McNabb started with Theodore on the blue line against the Panthers, and the Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith made up the Misfit line. Carrier, a forward, entered on the game’s second shift.
“I’m not going to lie, it was pretty cool,” Karlsson said. “It was nice to throw it back to old school group, starting one shift, with that original group.”
And they produced.
Smith scored a goal and assisted on another Tuesday, Theodore finished with three assists, and McNabb, Marchessault and Karlsson each had an assist. Only Carrier was left off the scoresheet, but he had a plus-one rating.
Owner Bill Foley had high hopes for this group from the beginning, proclaiming it his goal that the Knights would win the cup in six years.
They did just that, the Misfits still an important part of the team, even if the roster has gone undergone major changes in the years since that inaugural season.
“That was a magical year (in 2018),” Karlsson said. ‘We were close, but unfortunately it didn’t go our way. But that team will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m happy there’s six of us here still, and to kind of get to win it for (the original team) is incredible.”