Maybe it was a throwaway line. Maybe he'd been sitting on it for a while. Maybe it bubbled up out of his frustration and just came out in the moment. Wherever it came from, Gerard Gallant used Excalibur to stab home his point late Friday night after watching his team lose 6-3 to the Winnipeg Jets and run its recent record to just three wins in 11 starts.
"Well, I hope as a hockey player you find it and you look in the mirror and say, 'I have to do better than I have done.' Recently, we have to find the 'Misfits' again because I don't see them lately. I don't like what I'm seeing, and I don't like our game."
There was no hyperbole. No foaming anger. Gallant isn't a speech guy. He's not an actor. He doesn't torque his talks with the media. Plainspoken could go on his gravestone. It's who he is and it might be his greatest strength as a hockey coach. His players know where they stand with him. At all times.
What Gallant said publicly Friday isn't a secret within the walls of the dressing room. Here's what Jonathan Marchessault had to say postgame Friday.
"There is no work, we don't work. When we're a hardworking team good things happen. When we don't work, that's why we lose," said the forward. "There are no excuses, there are no excuses to not be working. Everybody has control on how you're going to work in a game."
Marchessault and a number of other veterans have been pointing out this lack of consistent work ethic for some time. Which leads to the question: How do they fix it?
"It's mental. You've got to be ready, it's not physical. This time of the year, everyone is in game shape and everyone is ready, the playoffs are around the corner," Marchessault said. "Why would you not want to play at this time of the year? There is no secret method, it's just hard work."
Everywhere the Golden Knights went last season, the opposing coaching staffs said the same thing over and over: "Vegas is the hardest working team in the NHL."
Arguably, the Golden Knights are a better team on paper than they were last season. Paper is easily crumpled and discarded. Misfits, however, have proven much harder to put down. Gallant is right. The Misfit mantra took this team a long way last season. Almost over the top. Is that mystique gone forever? Or can it be recaptured? Time will tell. And the answer will tell us how this second version of the Golden Knights will ultimately be judged.