Now isn't this one of the darndest things you've ever seen!?
Before every game, Nate Schmidt follows a certain ritual during warmups. Not as much following a certain order of stretches, routine or even trying to be the last player off the ice, as is a tradition that's been practiced by other players before.
No, Nate Schmidt throws a towel up in the air toward Golden Knights massage therapist Raul Dorantes, who's positioned on the bench.
Then during the towel's hang time, Schmidt tries to drink from three separate bottles, rapid fire, that he's lined up on the edge of the bench. Two are filled with Gatorade, one with water.
Same menu, every game.
If Schmidt finishes his drinks before Dorantes catches the towel, the two join forces on a dramatic high five.
Seriously, this happens every game, home and away.
"I honestly don't…I have no idea where I came from," Schmidt said. "I just started doing it. I did it in Washington before. We call it the Magic Trick. The magic show, before the game. It was just one of those things. It just happened.
"I used to do different kinds of bottles, I tried a couple waters. Can I have a water, can I have a Gatorade? I have Gatorade. Oddly enough, our old massage therapist in Washington, it was like water and Gatorade, I'd spit the water out. Then I asked for a towel. Then it kind of evolved. Now it's polished. It's pretty locked in.
"It does not matter what flavor of Gatorade. It just has to be two Gatorades and a water. Have to rinse my mouth out, because I don't want all that sugar on my teeth."
Oh my, there's so much to unpack here.
First off, how Dorantes was selected as Schmidt's Magic Trick assistant seems a bit unknown. From Dorantes' perspective, he was just minding his business on the bench a few weeks ago, and Schmidt approached him.
"I've seen a lot of guys have their own pregames," Dorantes said. "Sit in the same spot every single day, eat the same bar, same drink. This is the most fun I've been part of for sure.
"It just kind of goes along with who he is. He's just a fun, playful guy. He enjoys playing the game every single day. He just wanted to start something up. That's just his personality. He plays it as if he was a little kid."
From Schmidt's perspective, choosing Dorantes seems to be as much a choice of convenience as anything else.
"He seemed like, I know he's usually always on the bench. So one, availability. Two, a lot of the equipment guys (Dorantes is a massage therapist) are working on guys during warmups. So I want to get some who's not that he's not working, but he's available.
"He just kind of seemed like…we seemed like we had something going on between us."
Oh my, indeed.