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The Moments

By: Gary Lawless

If one is lucky enough, there are moments in a life which are special and impactful. When the movie of a life plays in someone's mind hopefully there are scenes to make that person smile. Triumphs and accomplishments.

The birth of a child. Graduations. Career achievements. Weddings. All of these moments make up a life well lived.

For a hockey player, the list of these moments is both personal and rooted in team. Being drafted, making an NHL roster, scoring that first NHL goal and the ultimate prize of winning the Stanley Cup are all touchstone moments players recall.

The Golden Knights organization is just in its third year of NHL competition but has already stacked up an impressive list of memories.

Since the expansion draft in 2017, the Golden Knights have been different than most startup teams. They've already earned regular season division crowns, a Western Conference championship and a berth in the Stanley Cup. Along the way there have been incredible moments on the ice, in the stands and in the boardroom.

The organization started with City National Arena and is in the process of building Lifeguard Arena. Recently owner Bill Foley purchased an AHL franchise, dubbed the Henderson Silver Knights, which will play in its own building in Henderson. The Golden Knights continue to check off boxes as a both a winning and successful franchise.

We talked to the Golden Knights players about the biggest moments of their careers and the answers varied from winning the Stanley Cup to being selected in the expansion draft to earning a silver medal in the Olympics.

Here's the list with a description in the words of the players:

Zach Whitecloud

First Game

  • Zach Whitecloud made his NHL debut with Vegas on April 5, 2018 in Edmonton against the Oilers
  • Whitecloud finished the game with a +3 inside Rogers Place
  • The Brandon, Manitoba native spent two seasons playing NCAA hockey at Bemidji State University before signing with the Golden Knights organization

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your NHL career so far?
Zach Whitecloud: There's two; obviously signing my first NHL contract and playing in my first NHL game.

GL: We've got to pick one, which is the biggest?
ZW: I've got to say playing my first game for sure.

GL: Why does it mean so much to you?
ZW: It's proof that everything I've sacrificed in my life and the things that I've gone through to take each step toward my dream was starting to become a bit more realistic. And obviously playing your first NHL game you slip your spot in the roster according to the NHL, but it's a step closer in the right direction. It was me realizing that I could play in that league and hopefully at one point have success.

GL: What was the day like leading up to the game?
ZW: I saw my parents that morning really quick at the hotel and that was it. I tried to lay down for a pregame nap and that didn't happen. Then I just did my normal routine. A lot of the guys said just enjoy it, have fun and do everything that you usually do, and everything will work out. It went by in the blink of an eye, really. It was like any kind of game day. I tried to make it the same, besides the pregame nap, but other than that everything was kind of routine for me.

GL: Who from the team was looking out for you during the day?
ZW: I think the whole D-core was. All those guys were trying to remind me to play my game, be calm and enjoy it. Just go out there and have fun. At the end of the day that's what you've got to do to be successful, just play your game, have fun and do your best. That's what they were trying to remind me of throughout the entire process.

GL: What do you feel when you look back at that moment?
ZW: Just pure happiness and pure joy. One of the things that sticks out to me was when I went out for my first lap, your rookie lap I guess you could say. The first person I saw was my best friend, my childhood best friend who was sitting in the corner across from the bench. He's seen the struggles and hurdles and been there for the whole ride. It was kind of cool to see him and see the smile on his face with him realizing that I made it and fulfilled my dream of making it to that league. To share that experience with him in that moment was really exciting for me.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that night?
ZW: Just pictures honestly and fond memories. I took pictures with a lot of family members that were there, some friends that had come to the game. Obviously, my mom recorded the game, so we still have that on the recorder at home. The team gave me my first NHL game jersey so that's something I hold close to me as well.

Brayden McNabb

Clinch vs. Kings

  • Brayden McNabb scored the lone goal in Game 4 of the 2018 opening round against the Los Angeles Kings on April 17, 2018
  • The tally against his former team proved to be the series-clinching goal as Vegas won the game, 1-0, and swept Los Angeles
  • McNabb previously spent three seasons in Los Angeles as a member of the Kings organization

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment in your career so far?
Brayden McNabb: The first year in Vegas, going through that year and obviously going to the Stanley Cup Final. Would've been nice to win it all there but getting that experience and going through four rounds of playoffs was exciting. It was exciting to see the city.

GL: Was the game-winning goal against LA the biggest moment?
BM: Yeah probably. That was pretty cool, especially to get it against my former team in the third period. That one definitely is one of my highlights for sure.

GL: What was it like that day overall?
BM: Honestly that series was long and grueling. We went to double-overtime one game and I think went to overtime another game, so it was pretty demanding on the body. My focus was just getting enough rest and enough food in my body to get some fuel. I didn't have my mind on scoring goals, it was more about taking care defensively. The opportunity rose and I was able to get one.

GL: Thoughts on your team scoring just seven goals in the four games?
BM: Yeah it was wild. That was a hard-fought series even though we swept them. It was pretty demanding on our bodies.

GL: What made it so special?
BM: Just to finish out the series. Obviously to get it against your former team is pretty exciting, especially when it is fresh in your mind when you were there the year before. Still got a lot of personal connections there and to get one against them was just a great feeling.

GL: Who did you share that moment with?
BM: My parents both texted me and they were jacked up. I got a lot of respect for the other organization and the guys there. A lot of those guys texted me and said congrats and were happy for me. Even (Kings GM) Rob Blake texted me and said congrats. It was pretty cool to see the support, even from the other side and obviously from my family.

GL: Do you have any keepsake from that moment?
BM: I have the jersey. I wish I would have gotten it signed, but I'm not a huge keepsake guy by any means.

GL: Why is that whole year so important to you?
BM: Honestly, I was watching our first-ever game yesterday on TV. It brought back a lot of memories and just how fun of a group that was and how much fun we had while playing. Obviously winning is fun and we had a lot of that the first year. It was just a wild ride, especially with October 1 happening and the city coming together and rallying behind us. It was an emotional year and a very exciting year.

Deryk Engelland

The Speech

  • Just days after the October 1 tragedy in Las Vegas, Deryk Engelland gave a pregame speech on the ice before the team's first home game of the inaugural season
  • Following the speech, Engelland added a goal in the first period, as the Golden Knights defeated the Coyotes, 5-2, on October 10, 2017
  • The veteran defenseman was selected in expansion from the Calgary Flames and spent two seasons playing for the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers earlier in his career

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your career?
Deryk Engelland: There is probably a couple of them. Obviously your first NHL game has to be up there with your biggest moment because that is when you finally accomplish the goal of making it here. That is pretty special. Other than that, it would probably be our first home game, with everything that happened in Vegas before the game on October 1. The speech and ended up scoring a goal that game. That was a pretty big moment. The other one would be Western Conference Final Game 5. Winning that was a big moment in my career. We didn't win the Stanley Cup, but it was the next closest thing.

GL: What was it like that day leading up to the home opener?
DE: It was weird. It was different because of October 1. On a normal home opener, you're extremely excited, pumped up and that is the only emotion running through you. With what happened and recognizing those people at the game, there was just a whole bunch of different emotions running through. Let alone, I'm not a speaker so I was pretty nervous having to get up and speak in front of 18,000-plus people.

GL: Do you ever look back at that moment?
DE: Yeah, of course. My wife framed a bunch of stuff and pictures from the speech and the celebration of my first goal as a Golden Knight in that game. You're reminded of those things around the house and stuff like that. You just think of how the whole city came around one huge tragedy. The team and community came together. To top it off with a goal that night, it was a pretty special night.

GL: How did you manage emotions during that game?
DE: It was tough. Like I said, it was a whole different feeling before the game. After seeing how much the first two games on the road uplifted people around the city and uplifted us as a team, we really wanted to come out flying in that game for all of the people that were affected and everyone at the game. Tomas Nosek scoring early just added more fuel. We exploded in that first period with four goals and it was just a whole lot of adrenaline and emotion. Nosek scores and it just snowballed. Every time something happened it came with even more adrenaline whether it was a hit, a good play or anything. It was a crazy night that you'll definitely never forget.

GL: Why was the speech so important to you?
DE: Personally, I think it's because it was an unfamiliar thing for me at the time. If you're someone that is getting up in front of thousands of people and making speeches all the time it is probably an everyday thing, like me putting on skates and playing hockey. To put hockey aside and make a speech in front of that many people was a different feeling. Still to this day, you have people telling you how that speech affected them and just makes it that much more special knowing you went out and did that and it helped people in many different ways.

Nicolas Roy

Claiming Calder

  • Before being acquired by Vegas in exchange for Erik Haula, Nicolas Roy won the 2019 Calder Cup Championship with the AHL's Charlotte Checkers on June 8, 2019
  • Roy collected 15 points (6 G, 9 A) in 19 playoff games, including three goals during the Calder Cup Championship against the Chicago Wolves
  • The Amos, Quebec native was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the fifth round (96 overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your career so far?
Nicolas Roy: I think it was probably when I won the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers. It was just such a good run with the boys. It was just so much fun, so I'd have to say that one.

GL: Why does that mean so much to you?
NR: When you play a team sport it's your goal to win championships like that. We battle all year to be able to do that and to win the cup it was unbelievable.

GL: Do you ever look back at it and if you do what do you think about?
NR: Yeah of course I look back at it. They showed some of the games recently and it's so much fun to watch and see all of the effort the guys put in to win that cup. Some of the guys were playing injured and it was just so much fun to play in the playoffs with those guys.

GL: What did you take away from the experience?
NR: Of course, with every team I play I want to win, and I know what it takes in playoffs. It's pretty hard and you've got to battle through it, but I know what it takes now, and I'll be willing to do that with the Golden Knights and hopefully we'll be able to win a cup.

GL: Do you have a memento from it? Did you guys get rings?
NR: Yeah, we got rings around Christmas time.

GL: What does that mean to you?
NR: It's a pretty good gift. Of course, it means a lot having that at home when you look at it you remember all the memories from the run with the boys. It's a pretty good gift.

GL: What's your favorite memory from it all?
NR: Probably before the last game, game five against Chicago. We knew it was going to be a big game for us and we had a little conversation before the game in the room and the guys were just ready to go. It was such a nice moment because we knew game five was going to be the toughest to cross off the playoff series. It was a really good moment.

GL: What was that day like?
NR: Pretty much the same as every game day to be honest. You don't want to think too much. Pretty much the same. Morning skate, pregame skate, pregame meal, good nap. It was just a different mindset. We were just ready to go, and all the guys went for it.

GL: After it was over, other than your teammates, who was the first person you shared the moment with?
NR: My girlfriend and my sister were there, they made it to the game in Chicago. They were the first two people I went to see after the game, and it was really emotional. They were so happy for me and for the team. It was a good moment.

Jon Merrill

Jon's First Goal

  • Jon Merrill scored his first-career NHL goal on February 7, 2014 as the New Jersey Devils defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1
  • Merrill's first-career tally came in overtime to give the Devils the win at home inside the Prudential Center
  • The defenseman spent four seasons with the Devils before being selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment in your career?
Jon Merrill: I'd have to say my first NHL goal and the way it was scored. It was an overtime winner and pretty special against the Oilers at home in New Jersey. Just to get your first one that way was pretty special, and I was extremely excited. It was kind of a monkey off my back situation. I think I was 30-something games in, so I had been playing for a few games looking for that first goal. To have it come in overtime and a big win for the team, it felt really good.

GL: What was it like in the moment?
JM: I don't want to say it was a huge relief because the work is just beginning when you're a rookie that is 30 games in. But it was that first moment for me where while all my hard world has paid off, you start to feel like you belong a little bit more. All that hard work and all your dreams are coming true.

GL: How did you score it?
JM: A scrum in the corner and I was hanging out in the high slot at the top circle. The puck squirted out to me and I got a quick shot on net that went in.

GL: Who did you beat?
JM: Ilya Bryzgalov.

GL: How did your teammates react?
JM: So excited. I know we had a little thing we were doing back then where we gave the green jacket out after every game as a player of the game. That was the first game that I got to play a solid game and have the green jacket. You had to wear it on the plane that night into the next city. It was a fun thing to do and the guys were really excited for me.

GL: Who did you share that with after the game?
JM: My phone was blowing up from friends and family members that had seen the highlight or had been watching the game. For a couple hours after the game, I was just reaching back out to people because what you realize when you play in the NHL is it's not just your mom and dad or wife and kids. There are so many people invested in your career that have done things for you and still watching you. You don't even realize how many people still follow you and are proud to say that they had an impact on your career in any way throughout the process. It was a lot of people at the time, but that is what made it special. You know how many people care about you and are rooting for you and wanting you to do well.

GL: Do you ever remember it?
JM: Yeah, I do. I was thinking about it, and that is one specific goal or personal accolade that stands out. But for me, my best memories about the NHL are just going to the rink and being around the guys. Walking into NHL buildings through the security entrance. I just remember being a kid standing at the fence watching guys getting in their cars going in and out of the rink wondering what that must feel like to be an NHL player. When I think about hockey during these times, I miss that feeling of going into the rink and being around the boys putting in work. That amazing feeling of being an NHL player.

GL: Is this what you always wanted to do?
JM: Yeah as a kid I was into sports. I knew I wanted to be an athlete of some capacity. I played all sports, but as I got older my ability in hockey separated itself from the other sports, so I zeroed in and focused on being a hockey player. I went to college and they talked a lot about having plans and thinking about what to do if hockey didn't work out. I definitely tried to explore different avenues, but a hockey player was the number one choice.

GL: Did you save anything from the night you scored?
JM: I've got the puck. Most teams do a pretty good job of grabbing the puck after any milestone. First goal, first game and stuff like that. I have the puck with the tape around it. That is at my dad's house probably, back in Michigan.

GL: Who fished the puck out of the net?
JM: Probably Michael Ryder. He dished it to me and was a good buddy of mine that year. He was probably the guy that went and got it for me, but I don't remember for sure.

Reilly Smith

Selecting Smitty

  • Reilly Smith was selected by the Dallas Stars in the third round (69 overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft on June 27, 2009 in Montreal
  • Smith appeared in 40 games with the Stars before being acquired by the Boston Bruins
  • The forward played three seasons for Miami University, and was a Hobey Baker Finalist following the 2011-12 season

Gary Lawless:What is the biggest moment of your career?
Reilly Smith: Getting drafted was important for me. That was an eye-opener, when you're a kid and you have this lifelong dream and it's the first time you see that maybe there is a possibility to reach it. Other than that, I think playing in the Stanley Cup Final was an eye-opening experience. I remember being in the moment and thinking that you can't let any time off, you have to go in every single shift no matter how tired you are. It was a fun experience. While you're in it, you really do realize that you may never get this opportunity again, so you have to give it your all.

GL: What was it like getting drafted?
RS: I was pretty anxious. My family convinced me to go to the draft in Montreal. I was a little skeptical of that idea because I wasn't even sure that I was going to get drafted at all. I was thinking the best-case scenario was maybe the sixth or seventh round. I was nervous about going there and sitting in the crowd for that Saturday and watching pick by pick go by without hearing my name. It ended up working out great and it was nice to be in that organization at that time. They had a lot of younger people and it gave me an opportunity.

GL: Who was with you in Montreal?
RS: I had my family there with me. They were supportive of me my entire time growing up. Having my older brother drafted a few years earlier and seeing that experience for him, it was nice to have him there.

GL: Was your grandfather there?
RS: Yeah, he was. Every experience that I was able to share with him was truly remarkable. He was such a big factor in my development, not just as a hockey player, but as a human being and young man. It was really special for him and for me to be able to share that with him.

GL: Why was he so important?
RS: Growing up having two parents that worked all the time and two older brothers who played competitive sports, sometimes there were not enough cars to take everyone where they needed to be. He took a bigger role in taking me to my hockey games and practices since I was playing six or seven times a week. From probably the age of 13, he took a big role and we spent nearly every day together. You really get to strengthen those bonds you have, and he has always been my biggest supporter.

GL: What did he say to you when drafted?
RS: I think he was holding back tears. It was tough for both of us to get words out, but just the support that he showed me every single day was truly remarkable.

GL: What was going through your mind the day leading up to the draft?
RS: I had so many nerves, it was like nothing else I really ever experienced. There are stories of guys who stick with it, like Jonathan Marchessault or Nate Schmidt, who don't get drafted but are able to make it to the NHL without. In that moment, it still felt like it was make-or-break for me. I was either going to get drafted or probably give up and figure out another career.

GL: What happened after getting drafted?
RS: The first-round pick guys go and get on stage. For the second round through seven, you go down and meet with the personnel at their table on the floor. I was able to meet with them quickly and then put on a jersey and hat. They put you through a bunch of different rooms to take pictures and sign a couple things. Cool experience and definitely a whirlwind for me.

GL: Who paid for dinner that night?
RS: I hope it was my agent. I remember Brandon Pirri and I were with the same agency at the time, so it was nice to be able to share that moment with him and his family.

GL: When looking back, what goes through your mind now?
RS: There are a lot of mixed emotions. Incredibly happy after it and being able to share that moment with my family. But I think every moment leading up to my name being called I was just a big ball of nerves.

GL: Did you save anything from that day?
RS: I'm sure my mom saved absolutely everything from that day. She tries to keep everything she can, so there is probably a room somewhere in my parents' house that has that with the memorabilia.

Chandler Stephenson

Stanley for Stevie

  • Chandler Stephenson won the 2018 Stanley Cup as a member of the Washington Capitals on June 7, 2018
  • The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native appeared in each of the team's 24 playoff contests
  • Stephenson was drafted by the Capitals in the third round (77 overall) in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your career?
Chandler Stephenson: Winning the Stanley Cup.

GL: What was that like?
CS: For almost a full year, it didn't feel real. It didn't sink in and it was almost like a blur. The start of the season I didn't make the team out of camp and played six games in the minors. After six games, I was up for the rest of the year and that was my first full stint. You put up with that for years to lead up to that. Wondering when you're going to go down again or when your time is up. You want to stay and do everything you can to stay. Lucky enough, I was fortunate to stay and then it was the playoffs. It was cool, NHL playoffs, but after the first round it was a blur. Everyone was saying they've never been up on Pittsburgh in a series and they've never got past the second round. Then we were past the second round, and the third round was with a juggernaut in Tampa. Being down 3-2 still felt like we were going to win the series. There was no doubt in our minds that we weren't going to go all the way. The whole thing just felt like, even when we were down, who was up next. We had that jump and that swagger that every team that wins has, just waiting for the next team. That was obviously something that to do my first year was so special and privileged. Now, two or three years later, it has definitely sunken in more. It's something that is still hard to believe that you did that. The thing that gave me the biggest smile was seeing guys like Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom finally do that after trying for 10-12 years. The joy and excitement that they had was so special.

GL: Do you talk about this with your new teammates at all?
CS: Yes and no. I'd love to do that with Vegas, win a second Stanley Cup. That is obviously even more special than winning your first Stanley Cup. To win two or three, that is something that just takes so much because of how hard it is to do. Some guys will ask about it or find little things to talk about it. It is never something that I want to remind the guys of when we beat them their first year. This is my team now and who I want to win a Cup with. Vegas is in their third season and to win here, I couldn't imagine how much fun, special and how awesome that would be.

GL: When looking back, what sticks out specifically?
CS: Obviously to score your first playoff goal, that was pretty special. I think getting past Pittsburgh because for however many years Washington could never get past Pittsburgh. When they did, it was like everyone had belief that this was the year. Obviously, Game 7, or Game 6 even, against Tampa being down 3-2 was the best that our team had played all year. Everybody was saying how that was the best game they had seen the team play and that was a do-or-die for us. It almost seemed like a Cinderella story. Everything fell into place and worked. There was no doubt, even when down 3-2 to Tampa. Going there for Game 7, it just didn't seem like there was any doubt. For me personally, every series and every game were just a blur. It didn't feel like it was the playoffs or the big stage with cameras and everything got to anyone. Nobody ever felt nervous or pressure or anything, which I think was a big reason why we did win.

GL: What was it like seeing your name on the Stanley Cup?
CS: Pretty crazy. Then to hear that I'll be 97 or 98 when that piece finally gets taken off was even more crazy. Only being 24 at the time and to have it on there for 70 years.

GL: Who did you look for when hoisting the Cup?
CS: Guys just started to make a line and file to who was next. I was nervous about how heavy it was; you don't want to trip or fall. There was a little more of those pressures, but obviously to see the pictures after and videos it gives you goosebumps. To have family and friends there, you couldn't have written it any better.

GL: Who did you share that moment with?
CS: I had my family there, cousins, aunts, uncles, girlfriend and her family. There was a full entourage of people that we got to celebrate with. That was something that Washington did a really good job with. If there was going to be a deciding game that we could win, they made sure that they got every family member there and room for them.

Nick Cousins

Nick's First Night

  • Nick Cousins made his NHL debut with the Philadelphia Flyers on March 17, 2015 in Vancouver against the Canucks
  • The Canucks defeated the Flyers in the contest, 4-1
  • Cousins was drafted by the Flyers in the third round (68 overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your pro career?
Nick Cousins: I would say my first NHL game. It's kind of cliché to say, but just being in the minors and sitting around waiting and you're seeing other guys getting called up while you're just grinding away. You're just waiting for that call and when you finally get it it's almost surreal. You work so hard. You work your entire life to get there. I would probably say first NHL game. All the buildup, the emotion, all of the hard work that goes into it finally pays off.

GL: That was with the Flyers, right?
NC: Yeah, correct.

GL: Tell me about the game.
NC: I had just gotten called up and I was just expected to be the 13th forward for the road trip because we were going out west. I remember we flew out to Vancouver and we had a day off in Vancouver. I was just the extra forward, so I didn't really plan on playing in Vancouver because we had 12 healthy forwards. I remember I was sitting at breakfast the morning before the game with one of the guys. I got a text from a coach and he just said that I was going to be in tomorrow because one of the guys had to head back home because his wife was having a kid. He was heading home back to Philly. That gave me an opportunity to play. Didn't really expect to play but it was kind of cool how it all played out.

GL: Who was the coach?
NC: Craig Berube.

GL: Craig sent you a text that you were going to go?
NC: Yeah it was pretty cool. I was just sitting at breakfast and I showed the guy I was sitting with right away. He was obviously excited. I ended up calling my parents and they were able to fly down and catch the game the next night in Vancouver. They flew out from Toronto and they ended up making it just in time for the game. It meant the world for them to be there, so it was kind of cool how it all played out.

GL: What was it like to play that game and have your parents there?
NC: It was awesome. It was my first time obviously playing in Vancouver and they were doing a jersey retirement. I'm not sure who it was for, I can't think of it off the top of my head. Obviously, it was a lot of emotion in the building and they had us all lined up on the blue line before the game. It was like a 30-minute ceremony and I remember just sitting at the blue line taking it all in with the guys. Vancouver's a pretty fun place to play. It feels like it's right on top of you. It was a good first building to play in, I think. I was really nervous in the first period but as the game went on, I felt better. It was a good moment for sure.

GL: What was it like after the game when you saw your mom and dad?
NC: They were pumped. I didn't get to see them before the game, and it was my first time seeing them in a while. They were excited and obviously really proud. It was cool to be able to share that experience with them. It was a lot of fun. One I'll never forget.

GL: How'd you play?
NC: Not bad. I felt pretty good. I almost scored, actually. I remember it like it was yesterday, but second period I had a chance in the slot. The goalie ended up making a pretty good save. I think I played just under 11 minutes. I had a couple shots on goal, and I think I was an even plus/minus so that's usually a positive.

GL: Did you get on the scoresheet at all?
NC: No, not in the first game. It took me actually a while. I actually didn't score my first NHL goal until I think like game 16. It took me a while.

GL: You can get on the scoresheet other ways, Nick. You've done that a few times.
NC: Yeah, you're right. It took me a while to get my first point. I think it took me about maybe ten or 11 games. No penalties though. I don't think I got a penalty for a couple games at least.

GL: Do you have a memento from that first game?
NC: In my basement I have the framed game sheet they gave me, so I have that. Then a plaque along with a puck as well. And I have from my first NHL goal a plaque and a picture and the date when that happened as well. It's kind of cool. I have just a little bit of memorabilia sitting in my basement on the wall.

Nick Holden

Nick's NHL Debut

  • Nick Holden made his NHL debut with the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 20, 2010 at home against the Anaheim Ducks
  • Holden finished the game with a +1 as the Blue Jackets won the game, 3-1
  • The defenseman also played with the Avalanche, Rangers and Bruins before signing as a free agent with the Golden Knights

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment in your career so far?
Nick Holden: I'd have to say my first NHL game.

GL: How come?
NH: Obviously just growing up in Western Canada that was just something you always dreamed about, whether you were out at a rink or playing road hockey was playing in the NHL. Just getting that opportunity was a very big moment for me. It was special.

GL: Where was it and who were you playing for?
NH: It was a home game with Columbus against Anaheim.

GL: What felt special about it at the time?
NH: I was just excited. Obviously, it was a lot of hard work to accomplish a goal that you've been reaching for and trying to get to. For me it was just awesome to get the opportunity after a lot of years of hard work.

GL: Who did you share that with?
NH: I was in Springfield when I got the call. Ang was living there. I was at the Basketball Hall of Fame with my wife Ang. Her mom was actually visiting, and I just got the call when we were there. I shared it with Ang and her mom. For the game my dad and a buddy were actually able to make it down to the game in Columbus. So, Ang, her mom, my parents and a friend of ours were able to make it to the game.

GL: What was it like to see that crowd after the game?
NH: I was just so excited. I think it was more exciting to be able to call everybody; my parents, my grandpa, my brother, my sister, my other buddies, everybody and let them know that I was getting called up and was going to be playing in the NHL the next day in Columbus against Anaheim. After the game it was obviously exciting seeing Mom and Dad and Ang and her mom and my buddy. I think the most excitement I had was when I got to call everybody and let them know.

GL: Do you ever look back at it and if you do, what do you think?
NH: I don't think too much about it anymore, but when people ask me what your first NHL game was or could you tell me about it or whatever, it's just great memories when it gets brought up. I can tell where I was in the Basketball Hall of Fame when I got the call. I can tell you the pregame skate leading up to the game, all that kind of stuff. It's just a great memory that I was able to make. Looking back on it when people ask just fills me with joy and excitement.

GL: Did you save anything from the game?
NH: My wife's more of a saver. I think my wife got the program and I think my mom got a puck or something from the game. They're the ones collecting stuff. I think we still have it, but I didn't grab anything.

GL: What was it like when you walked out and saw your mom and dad?
NH: Just excitement. They were obviously super excited for me and I was just thankful and excited that they were able to make it there and watch and be there for my first game.

Alec Martinez

Marty's First Cup

  • Alec Martinez won his first Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012 as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils, 6-1, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final
  • Martinez won a second Stanley Cup with Los Angeles during the 2013-14 season
  • The defenseman spent 11 seasons with the Kings before being acquired by the Golden Knights

Gary Lawless:What's the biggest moment in your career?
Alec Martinez: I think I've been fortunate to have some pretty big moments throughout my career in youth hockey and in pro. The most exciting one was my first Stanley Cup. That was a pretty special moment being able to do something like that for the first time. It was pretty incredible and to be able to do it twice, I consider myself a pretty lucky guy. I'd have to say that first one was pretty awesome.

GL: So, scoring the winning goal in overtime in 2014 doesn't stick out as much as winning with your team in 2012?
AM: It's hard to pick. On a personal level, it was pretty cool to score that goal in 2014. I don't think that anything really replaces the first time you win something like that. I think that they were different in a lot of ways. The way that it all went down that first time was pretty cool.

GL: Why is it special?
AM: How much time have you got? Obviously, it's a pretty special moment and it's a privilege to play in the NHL. To even have the opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup is pretty special. Winning it is something entirely different. It's something that you dream about from when you're a little kid. Everyone scored that game-winning goal in their driveway in their head growing up. For me, it was shooting pucks in the driveway or the basement growing up in Michigan. To be able to actually hoist the Cup and know that's something no one can ever take away from you and know that your name is going to be on that trophy forever once it gets to the point where that ring goes in the hall of fame. To reach a pinnacle like that is something you dream about and it's a pretty cool moment. At the time, I was 24 years old, I was in my second or third-ish year in the league - it was my second full year - I was fortunate to win it that young. Sometimes that can be hard as a young guy because if it happens in your first couple of years, you think it's going to happen all the time. Since 2014, it's been quite a while since I really even played playoff games. It's something that you can't take for granted. I look around that team and see some of the older guys who had been playing the game for a lot longer than I had. They were really, really good hockey players and to see them hoist the Cup for the first time, that's one of the most special things about it. With the tradition of winning the Cup and getting your Cup day, it means a lot to be able to share that trophy and that moment with a lot of people you care about. There are a lot of people who play big roles along the way. Getting to see my parents, my buddies, other family and friends be able to enjoy it, that's one of the coolest and most special things about winning it.

GL: What's your favorite piece of memorabilia you've kept? Do you look at your Cup ring every once in a while?
AM: It's funny you mention the ring… I never bring out the ring. I'm never going to wear it. I think the only time I've ever worn a ring was at the dinner where you receive it. I think a few of us that were there for both Cups might have worn the 2012 ring to the 2014 dinner. I have a few of the small replica Cups they give you when you win with everyone's name etched on it. I have that on my bulletin in my living room. That's pretty special but I think that's probably the one thing. I have my stick that I scored with in 2014 and obviously that's pretty special. I tried to give that to my dad but he said, "That's yours, you've earned it." I guess I have those two things but it's funny you mention those because I kind of forgot that I have those because I just keep them in the safety deposit box at the bank.

Paul Stastny

Silver for Stastny

  • Paul Stastny appeared in the gold medal matchup with Team USA against Team Canada during the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 28, 2010
  • Stastny earned a silver medal after Canada won the matchup in overtime, 3-2, in Vancouver
  • The forward has played in two Olympics, while his father, Peter Stastny, played in a total of five during his playing career

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your career so far?
Paul Stastny: It's a tough question. I've been thinking about this. When it's your first NHL game or your first playoff game, I was asking my wife about that because it's hard for me to look at my career as it's going on. I think when I'm done, I'll be able to take a step back and really go over everything. There're probably three games that stick out in my mind, unfortunately one's a loss. One is a game seven win, St. Louis against Chicago. Or the Game 7 win against Nashville in Winnipeg. But it's got to be the gold medal game in 2010 when we played Canada and lost in overtime.

GL: How come?
PS: I just don't think it gets any better than that for hockey. I've been in two Olympics. My dad's been a part of five Olympics now, so he's seen it all. I think each city bring a different dynamic, each country brings a different dynamic. But I think that the Olympics where hockey is God - I don't think people realized how big the Olympics and hockey were in Canada. Having the US and Canada in game two or game three of the tournament and we beat them. I think that really woke the whole country up and from there on it was a collision course for the finals. As each game went on you could see the energy of the city get more excited and get more nervous at the same time. Obviously, the gold medal game is the last event in the Olympics and the closing ceremony takes place maybe two hours after that. You knew the whole world was watching. You knew all of Canada was super excited but super nervous, and I think for hockey itself it was probably the biggest thing ratings wise since the 1980 Olympics.

GL: What was it like waking up that morning?
PS: Nerves, excitement. I wish I would have been older because I would have taken it better. Being younger there was nerves, but I think everyone had nerves. I think it was just an eerie feeling not in the team but in the whole city. You could just feel the vibe. I think everyone was excited for the game to go. The worst part about hockey is the anticipation. It's the worst part of any sport when something good is about to happen, just waiting and the anticipation of it. You just want to get the game going as quick as you can, but you want to stay in the routine. It's just another game. You have to take a step back and realize it's just another game, but at the same time it just seemed like time was moving so slow and it couldn't come fast enough. I'm pretty sure the game was at two o'clock local time or something around there so you could wait fast enough for the clock to strike two.

GL: How special is it to have an Olympic silver medal?
PS: It's special. At the time it was very bittersweet. It was just sad. It was tough to comprehend. You lost the gold medal, but you did win the silver. As time goes by you realize how hard it is to make the Olympics, how hard it is to win any medal in the Olympics, let alone a silver medal, so that's something you can hang your hat on. To be part of that game, an evenly matched game too - it wasn't that one team dominated or got lucky - I think it was a back and forth battle. It was hockey at its highest standard. It was a joy to be a part of and obviously a tough pill to swallow when it ended, but it is what it is.

GL: It's considered one of the top five international hockey moments in North America. You've got the '87 Canada Cup, '72 Summit Series, 1980 and then 2010 is right up there. It's such an important game.
PS: Yeah, and as time goes by you come to appreciate it more and more, especially now that there's no NHL players in the Olympics. Hopefully that will change in the future, who knows. Like I said, the magnitude of the game and what made it so special was just the buzz and the excitement and how the whole country of Canada was on edge. Anyone that was there, I'm sure you know, everyone from Canada was watching it. Anyone who was in the city that week or that day leading up to that game and leading up to every game from the quarter finals to the semifinals. Every time Canada played everyone will tell you the streets were dead because everyone was inside the restaurants, everyone was inside the bars watching the games sitting on pins and needles. I remember they played Slovakia in the semifinals and I think they won by one. It was actually a really close game. They beat Russia, they spanked Russia in the quarters, but they beat Slovakia. I remember I was walking up and down the street with my dad after eating dinner. I think we played earlier in the day, so they played after us and you could hear nothing and all of a sudden it felt like a little earthquake and you go oh, Canada must've scored. Then you'd go inside a bar and everyone was going crazy and you'd see Canada was up 1-0 or 2-1 or something like that. They when Slovakia scored you wouldn't hear a thing, so by the time we got back to where we were staying, we looked to see how close the game was. That was just the semifinal one. I couldn't even tell you what it was like to be a spectator and being outside during the final.

GL: Who did you share that moment with?
PS: Obviously you share it with your teammates and your family. We all go through it and it was one of those moments where after the game I don't think anyone said a word because we were that close to winning. In 2014 it was different when we played Canada in Sochi. They were a better team all around. They were a dominant team and I think it was so hard to take in 2010 because we felt we were just as good or better. Of course, if you're a Canadian fan you couldn't have had it scripted any better where you have the golden boy of hockey, Sidney Crosby, score in Canada and it was the first time Canada won on home soil in I don't know how many years. In that sense when you read the history it's pretty cool to see, but when you're on the other side of history it sucks but you come to appreciate it as you get older and you look back on it.

GL: Do you ever bump into guys you were on the team with and talk about it, or is that something for farther down the road?
PS: I think it's for farther down the road. We had such a special bond because I think Burke and the whole management staff did such a good job of putting the whole team together. They didn't take the best individual skill player at every position but blending a mix of players with chemistry that would be effective for this role, and this role, and this role. I think that every single guy pulled the rope in a different way and we became really close in that two-week time. Every time we won a game, I think our confidence grew and we were a lot better than what people were predicting us to be. You're always going to share that. When you have a special team like that you have a special bond on and off the ice and you stay in touch with all of those players.

GL: Who'd you play with?
PS: I played with Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner.

GL: Pretty good line.
PS: I think the first couple games all the lines were maybe messed up a little bit and then we tweaked a few things and it was a nice combination. I knew a lot about Zach but didn't know a lot about Langenbrunner. I think once you play with a smart player that's easy to play with - when you play with good players that you have chemistry with, you don't need to talk; you can just react. From the first shift we had from I think game two or three we were just building chemistry.

GL: Who played in the middle?
PS: I did.

GL: What was the environment like?
PS: The game was such a blur because you tie it up fast and you think you're going to win. There's so many highs and lows, but I will tell you the coolest part of the Olympics was we played at the Olympics at the Canucks arena. They had one fourth of the stands if you're looking from the benches straight out, basically that whole mezzanine level all the way up to the corners was all media. And you thought, 'well, this sucks.' Instead of having 20,000 fans you're going to have 12,000 fans or whatever it was. They took out all the seats. But I will say before the game, probably before warmups and before the game, so at about 25:00 on the clock you could just tell the arena was packed already. Everyone was banging the drums, hitting the glass, doing chants. You see those commercials where USA plays Mexico at the World Cup in Mexico. They're playing international soccer and they're in the locker room in Mexico and the locker room is shaking because the fans are right on top of them. That was the feeling you had. The warmup was louder than any NHL game I've been a part of. It was just because everyone was so excited for it. If that didn't get you pumped up, I don't know what did.

Shea Theodore

Theo sinks Tampa Bay

  • Shea Theodore scored the dramatic game-winning goal in the final moments of a regular season contest inside T-Mobile Arena against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 19, 2017
  • Tampa Bay, the NHL's top team to date, saw their seven-game win streak snapped as Vegas won the contest, 4-3
  • Theodore was acquired by Vegas during expansion from the Anaheim Ducks

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your career?
Shea Theodore: I think to date, it's got to be the game we played against Tampa our first year. There was a lot going into that game. We were first in the west at that time, and they were first in the east. It was a pretty big matchup. Scoring the game-winning goal with 2.3 seconds left was awesome.

GL: What went through your mind at that moment?
ST: Not a whole lot. At that point, I knew the clock was ticking down and knew that was the game-winning goal. Definitely I was pretty excited.

GL: What was that day overall like?
ST: It was a regular day, but at the same time going into that game it was a matchup that we had circled. You want to play against those high-offensive teams and show you can play with them. I remember it was just an exciting day.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that game?
ST: I thought I had the puck. We have a toiletry kit where I have my scissors and wax and all that stuff. I thought I had that puck in there for a long time, and then somehow it vanished. Over the period of time that I thought that was the puck, I remembered seeing something online where somebody had bought it. I'm not sure the exact story behind that.

GL: What is it like to win a game in the NHL like that?
ST: It's pretty exciting. I have a couple overtime goals, which are always fun, but when in its in regulation and such a tight back-and-forth game with virtually no time on the clock, that is a pretty cool feeling to win the game at that point.

GL: Who did you share that moment with?
ST: I don't necessarily remember sharing it with anyone specific. I know I was getting a ton of text messages and tweets on Twitter in my mentions. I shared it with all of Las Vegas I'd say, because it seems like any time, I meet somebody who is a fan or watches us play, it sticks out in their mind. Definitely shared it with everyone.

William Carrier

Will's Playoff Debut

  • William Carrier appeared in his first-career playoff game on April 11, 2018 as the Golden Knights defeated the Los Angeles Kings
  • Carrier finished the game with a +1 as Shea Theodore scored the lone goal of Game 1 at T-Mobile Arena
  • The forward was selected by the Golden Knights from the Buffalo Sabres during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your career?
William Carrier: I would say may first playoff game against LA. I think it was big for the team, big for everyone. There was one moment during my first shift where we all realized we were nervous, and we actually ended up scoring. That was a big moment in my career.

GL: Who scored?
WC: Theo scored. It was on the forecheck. I remember I hit [Christian] Folin, he went down, missed his pass and Nosek picked it up behind the net. Theo was at the blue line and he went post in. The crowd went crazy and T-Mobile was on fire. I just remember that picture.

GL: What was that day like?
WC: Normally I nap but I couldn't nap. I was so nervous. Guys get the butterflies for playoffs and even if you play 82 games in the season playoffs is another thing. It's way more intense. I was a little nervous and couldn't sleep well for the nap and got the butterflies for the first shift. After that, it kind of changed the momentum of the series.

GL: How did you get to the rink that day?
WC: I drove by myself. I've got a playlist that I put on that has a couple tunes on there. I try to do the same routine. Those kinds of moments put me back in like a bubble where even if I get nervous, I can just rely on some team stuff.

GL: What's on the playlist?
WC: It's just on Spotify. It's more like techno. A lot of guys listen to it. Look it up, it's about an hour. I think it's made for people working out, but it gets me fired up.

GL: Do you ever look back at that day?
WC: I still remember going around the net. I saw the puck going in and I remember that moment when the crowd when completely nuts. You want to play all season for that little moment in the playoffs where you get kind of a souvenir out of it. Every time we play in the season we are working on those points I'm thinking about that moment.

GL: What made it so special?
WC: I think with it being that first game, growing up I saw a lot of Montreal's playoffs and how intense it was. I didn't really know what to expect. I think I was more nervous than my first NHL game just because of everything behind it and fighting for the Stanley Cup. You don't want to make any mistakes and the butterflies and the first time I get on the ice that happens and it was just great.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that game?
WC: I kept a couple pucks from the series that year. They're probably just pregame. I'm sure the real puck is somewhere in the box or someone's got it. But I kept a couple pucks from the first year from the playoff run.

GL: At the time did you realize it was a big moment?
WC: At that moment it didn't hit me that hard because we were in the middle of the mix. We won that game and obviously it was tough going to bed. We were just thinking about the 48 hours where you've got to play a game again. It's more when everything is settled down and everything is done where you start thinking about those moments and that moment really popped out. At that moment I didn't really know that it was a big moment, but I do now that I'm thinking about it.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Flower's First Cup

  • Marc-Andre Fleury won his first of three Stanley Cups in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 12, 2009
  • With Pittsburgh down 3-2 in the series against the Detroit Red Wings, the goaltender made a combined 38 saves on 40 shots in the final two games to win the Stanley Cup
  • Fleury was drafted by the Penguins with the first overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your career?
Marc-Andre Fleury: I think for me, probably the 2009 Stanley Cup. The whole run because we started as a bad team when I got there. We kept drafting guys, stuck together and we learned to win. Then we finally made it all the way to win the Cup.

GL: What was it like?
MAF: A little bit surreal. I always dreamt or played in the street thinking of winning the Stanley Cup. Once it actually happened, it was a little bit hard to believe thinking it was true. Still feels good to taste metal when you kiss the Cup.

GL: Do you ever look back and think of those moments?
MAF: Sometimes. I feel like the past few weeks I've been asked about it. I do think of it. Great teammates, great memories from it. Once in a while I'll think about it or see a clip here and there. It brings back memories.

GL: Do you have anything from that moment?
MAF: I kept my hat, the champion hat. That is something I've got. It's just on the shelf back home in Quebec.

GL: Who all did you share that moment with?
MAF: The biggest person would have been my dad right away. I knew how much he loved the game and all the sacrifice he and my mom did for me and my sister. A lot of times he was with me at tournaments and hockey things. My sister is a big hockey fan too. All those years of work finally paid off and I was happy to be able to thank him and share with him.

GL: When looking back, was there one moment that stood out?
MAF: I didn't watch the clock because it was a little hectic at the end of the game there. I remember the puck going to my right in the corner and didn't hear the buzzer, but I knew there was not much time left. I didn't want to look up at the clock in case somebody would shoot at my feet or something. Then I saw guys throw their gloves up and that is when I found out.

GL: Who on the ice got to you first?
MAF: I don't know. Just a blur.

GL: What was that like finally celebrating with guys like Crosby, Malkin and Letang?
MAF: It was good. I think Jordan Staal was a big part of it too and Max Talbot also. Like I said, we lost a lot of games together and we sucked together. That is why it felt even sweeter because we learned from it as a group. We all got very close to each other and the chemistry was great. I was very happy to be able to share that moment with them.

Mark Stone

Mark Gets His Start

  • Mark Stone made his NHL debut with the Ottawa Senators on April 21, 2012 in Game 5 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-Final against the New York Rangers
  • Stone recorded his first-career assist on Jason Spezza's goal in the opening period
  • The Manitoba native was drafted by the Senators in the fifth round (178 overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment in your NHL career so far?
Mark Stone: I made my NHL debut as a 19-year-old kid coming out of Brandon in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs first round at Madison Square Garden. That's probably the craziest thing I've ever been a part of.

GL: Tell me about that.
MS: I remember our season ending in Brandon. I got a call saying that Ottawa wanted me to go and see everything and learn. I did two skates with the Black Aces and right after Game 4, Daniel Alfredsson got hurt and Paul McLean's first pick to put in the lineup was me. I don't know if Brian Murray was completely on board with it, but he agreed and called me up after a Black Aces skate and said I had to take my stuff up to the main room and be ready for practice tomorrow. Bring your passport to the rink because you're going to New York. I went there and practiced with the team and at 5 p.m. on I think it was April 21st I was getting ready to play my first NHL game.

GL: What was it like waking up knowing you were going to play in an NHL playoff game that night?
MS: I was just soaking it all in to start because I really still didn't believe I was going to play. I went with the team, flew in. Nick Foligno, Zach Smith and Rob Klinkhammer we had a team dinner, but it was a bunch of separate tables. Those were the guys that kind of took me under their wings. I'd never been to a steakhouse like that and all I had was my $100 per diem. Nick Foligno helped me out and paid for my dinner that night, which was pretty awesome. He probably doesn't remember it, but for a kid at 19 he kind of showed me the way of being a good pro and making sure you take care of young players. That was the first eye-opening experience. And then walking to the rink and getting to Times Square and getting to Madison Square Garden, walking up the five story ramp to pregame skate, walking down the tunnel and seeing all of the people who've performed at Madison Square Garden, taking pregame skate, going back to the hotel, seeing how awesome the pregame meal was and trying to get a nap in and not even closing my eyes. And then just showing up at the rink and playing. I don't remember the game as much as I remember the buildup.

GL: Who'd you play with?
MS: I started the game with Zenon Konopka and Jimmy O'Brien. After we killed a penalty those two were my two linemates. They killed the penalty and Milan Michalek was also killing penalties. I took a shift with Jason Spezza and Colin Greening and got my first point.

GL: Was that the winning goal?
MS: It was the only goal scored in the game until Spezza scored the empty netter.

GL: How did you get the assist?
MS: I jumped over the bench and skated as hard as I could to the far blue line on the right wing. Filip Kuba sent me a -- don't quote me on this but I think he was passing to me -- but it went right over Spezza's stick, right on to my stick and I crossed the blue line and feathered one through the defender's feet and Spezza did the rest and went five-hole on Lundquist.

GL: So you made the pass?
MS: Yeah, I made the pass.

GL: Why is it so important to you?
MS: I think when I played in it, I maybe didn't feel the most comfortable and I knew that I was going to become a better player, but at that point I understood that I could compete at that level. Like I said, I wasn't the most comfortable playing in the game, and I knew that wasn't the best that I was going to play and the best player that I was going to be. At that time, I knew that I was good enough to compete at the level. For me, that gave me the drive to become better. If I could do this at this level, if I could just get ten percent better than I could become such a better player and that was kind of the feeling I had. I spent two more years in the minors after that and I obviously didn't want to be there, I wanted to be in the NHL, but the one guy that didn't want me to max out at that level was Brian Murray. I wouldn't be the player I am today if I didn't go through that experience and work on my craft in the minors.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that day?
MS: Yeah, it's hanging on my wall at my house in Vegas. It was Jason Spezza's goal, so my first point with a picture of the celebration and one other picture of me skating around framed.

GL: Who got you that?
MS: Ottawa did it. And I have my Hockey Night In Canada towel from after the game.

GL: You were on Hockey Night In Canada that night?
MS: Hockey Night In Canada did the postgame interview. I don't think they would let me do any in between interviews so they waited until the game was over, which I still respect Brian Morris for doing.

GL: Who'd you call after?
MS: I just had so many texts. When I called my mom and dad it wasn't really emotional. We kind of just laughed. I'd been through so much. I played the World Junior that year. I had so many fun memories, but that was just a storybook year for me. When I called my mom and dad, we all just kind of laughed together.

Max Pacioretty

  • Max Pacioretty was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round (22 overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft on June 22, 2007 in Columbus
  • The New Canaan, Connecticut native officially signed with Montreal after playing one season at the University of Michigan, collecting 39 points (15 G, 24 A) in 37 games as a freshman
  • Pacioretty went on to play 10 seasons in Montreal, and spent his final three serving as captain of the Canadiens

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your career?
Max Pacioretty: To this day I think my greatest accomplishment was getting drafted in the first round. Tie that together with playing my first NHL game I just think it's such a privilege to be a professional athlete, especially a professional hockey player. To accomplish my dream of always trying to be a player that plays in the NHL was my greatest achievement. I'm looking forward to hopefully sometime soon winning the ultimate prize.

GL: Take me back to that day. What was it like to get drafted?
MP: Getting drafted was very special for myself and my family. No one in my family ever had any ties to hockey with my mom growing up in Mexico and my dad in California. Hockey became a genuine love in our family when the Rangers won the cup in '94. All of us kind of fell in love with hockey in my family. It was just cool that I was able to sit there that day with no ties or any family ties or anything to the sport of hockey at all. We were new to the whole experience of the life of a pro hockey player. On the day of the draft when my name was called I didn't know exactly what to do but just kind of followed the players that got drafted in front of me and made sure I didn't make too much of a fool out of myself.

GL: What was it like putting the jersey on the first time?
MP: It was definitely very special. I didn't know much about the history of the Habs, but my grandmother was actually born and raised in Quebec so I knew that part of it was pretty special, especially for my dad knowing that his mom was born in Montreal.

GL: Looking back on that day do you ever just shake your head thinking about how new you were to all of this?
MP: I don't want to say I took it for granted, but I definitely didn't know the scale of the importance of everything that was happening. Our best draft story is actually the draft was in Columbus and my best friend's whole family came and his dad, who is my father's best friend, wore my Michigan jersey. We were in enemy territory in Columbus, Ohio. My dad's best friend was wearing my Michigan jersey and when I got drafted the jumbotron camera somehow sniffed him out. He was on the jumbotron with my jersey on and a large section started to boo him and throw hot dogs at him because he went to go grab a bite or something. He wasn't sitting with us at the time. I just heard the boos and looked up and saw my best friend's dad on the jumbotron and everyone was throwing stuff at him. To this day we have a good chuckle about that.

GL: What happened after you got drafted?
MP: After you get drafted you go up to the suite and meet all of the people in the organization, all the staff. As I mentioned being so new to it we had all of our tickets booked for the next morning, but that's not how it works. We had a draftees dinner the next day, or a cocktail hour or whatever. We had to change our flights. I think the girls in the family had to go shopping for a new wardrobe as they only packed for one night there. We ended up going to the cocktail hour and met everybody. Now I know who everyone is, but at the time me and my family being so new to the sport had no idea who some of these legend hall of famers were.

GL: Who'd you meet?
MP: Well Guy Carbonneau was the coach at the time so he was there. Bob Gainey was the GM at the time, so he was there. The story that he talked about was when Bob Gainey introduced himself to my family my mom asked him if he had ever played hockey and that's the story that when we want to give my mom a hard time we always go back to that.

William Karlsson

Karly sinks the Sharks

  • William Karlsson scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 3 in the second round against the San Jose Sharks on April 30, 2018
  • It was the forward's fourth goal of the postseason after collecting a career-high 43 tallies during the 2017-18 regular season
  • Following the win in Game 3, the Golden Knights went on to win four out of six games against the Sharks to advance to the Western Conference Final

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment in your career?
William Karlsson: There are a few. If I start by going back in time, I think of World Juniors when we won gold. It was a huge deal back home too, so that was maybe the first taste of attention that I got. World championships too with Team Sweden was also cool. Since being with the Golden Knights, it is probably the overtime goal in Game 3 our first year against the Sharks. Also making the Stanley Cup Final, of course.

GL: Which is the most special to you?
WK: I guess Game 3, because I scored. That was more of an individual moment for me. You always dream about scoring an overtime goal in the playoffs and that is what happened. It wasn't a Game 7, but still it was a pretty cool feeling. I remember everyone was so tired too after the game. Some guys thanked me for finishing that game. It was just really cool.

GL: What led up to you getting that shot on goal?
WK: I had some energy left and got a good burst there. I remember James Neal dished it out on the side. I got some room to tee it up and got away with a great shot.

GL: This was a great pass from James Neal…This was a great pass from James Neal…
WK: Yeah, he dishes it out perfectly. It doesn't look like much, but the timing, everything and dragging the defense to one side to give me room to come down on the right side to finish it off.

GL: What did you say to James Neal?
WK: Honestly, I don't even remember. We were just so caught up in the moment. I think we were just very happy that we won that game. It was a big one to win. I can't remember what I said, but I'm sure I thanked him for the pass.

GL: Was that day any different?
WK: Just a normal day. Obviously, it is a little more exciting, the anticipation before games when it is the playoffs. The series was tied going into Game 3 and obviously you want to get the lead. It was a hard-fought game. They came back at the end to tie it up, so it was a good thing that we got away with the win there in overtime.

GL: What was it like after the game?
WK: Of course, my phone blew up, but at the same time I realized it was just one game and had to recharge. I was very tired after the game, so got back to the hotel for a nice meal then just went to bed. The next day, we had practice to get ready for Game 4. You try to tone it down a little bit. It was great for that moment, but after that look forward to what will come.

GL: The goal shows off the versatility in your game...
WK: Yeah, it started from my own end and can't remember exactly but I got it to Jonathan Marchessault and he got it to James Neal. I had some energy left, but after that I was done.

GL: Where did you get that late energy from?
WK: I think that is why everyone works out, especially when you're doing the conditioning stuff. You want to believe that it pays off in the end. I think it did at that game.

GL: What time was it in Sweden?
WK: That is a good question. Maybe 9 in the morning. I think a lot of people woke up early to see the game. Might have been like 8 or 9 back home. People that I know got up and watched the rest of the game. Especially since it went to overtime.

GL: Did you keep anything from that game?
WK: No, I didn't actually. YouTube is good so I can watch from there.

GL: Do you ever go back and watch?
WK: Yeah sometimes, I've seen it. I've been tagged in videos of that goal too. It pops up as a reminder sometimes. It feels good to see it.

Ryan Reaves

Reavo's Hometown Silencer

  • Ryan Reaves scored the series-clinching goal against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of the 2018 Western Conference Final on May 20, 2018
  • Reaves scored his first goal with the Golden Knights in his hometown of Winnipeg, at the Bell MTS Place
  • The Manitoba native played three seasons with the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings and was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth round (156th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment of your career so far?
Ryan Reaves: Biggest moment, that's easy. The game winner in Winnipeg to go to the Stanley Cup in the Conference Final the first year here. Obviously, it was my first goal as a Golden Knight. The only bigger goal you can score is winning the Stanley Cup. For me that was hands down the biggest goal, biggest moment, most memorable moment of my career.

GL: What was the day like prior to the game?
RR: A lot of excitement. The team was walking around with a lot of swag. We lost the first game and then we won three in a row. I remember I walked from the hotel to the arena that day and I had a lot of confidence in my walk. I think the team had a lot of confidence and we went in there knowing we were going to win that game. But a lot of excitement. We were in a spot nobody ever thought we would be in. I know I was only there for a couple months and I didn't think the team was going to be there before I got there. Before the playoffs started, I don't think anybody thought we were going to be there. Just a lot of excitement. Especially since it was my hometown, I was excited to do it in front of them.

GL: Do you ever look back at it and what are your emotions?
RR: It's one of those moments that gives you chills every time you see it. I talked about it with Shane Hnidy on Instagram a couple of days ago. It's just one of those moments where you can't help but smile when you watch it over. It was a nice tip, maybe a little bit of an overexaggerated celebration for a goal in the second period. It was just a lot of fun.

GL: Who did you share the moment with outside of your teammates?
RR: Right after the game you have to do the interviews, so I was late getting out to my family, but I had my mom and my dad and a couple buddies out there. That was obviously really special to be able to play in front of them. The one thing I do regret is my wife and my kids weren't there, but my brother ended up signing a contract with the CFL a day or two before that and he ended up having to leave that morning. He was supposed to be at the game, but he didn't actually get to see it. I had four or five friends there, my mom and my dad, I had some other family members that were wearing Jets jerseys and that was disappointing and fun at the same time to rub that in their face. It was fun to see my family in a crowd like that.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that day?
RR: They took my stick and put it in the hall of fame, and I think that's as good as me keeping something. To know that a so-called enforcer who you would never think anything of mine would go in the hall of fame and my stick gets to go there. It was pretty cool, so I'll take that.

Jonathan Marchessault

Marchy's First Goal

  • Jonathan Marchessault scored his first-career NHL goal on April 11, 2015 as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Boston Bruins, 3-2
  • Marchessault's first-career tally came in the second period to give Tampa Bay the 1-0 lead inside Amalie Arena
  • The forward spent two seasons with the Lightning and one season with both the Blue Jackets and Panthers before being selected by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment in your career so far?
Jonathan Marchessault: You know what? The biggest moment of my career… there are a lot of good moments and they all keep you humble and bring you back down to earth a bit. The first time that I signed my contract, I had stability for my family, my kids, my wife, and have a home and things like that. I think that was a moment I was really proud of. Biggest moment I think is overall that first year with VGK. That's tough to beat, it's by far the best year. Honestly, the first goal in the NHL is the biggest singular moment. It's what you've been working toward every year your whole life. I think my first goal in the NHL would be my biggest moment. It was the last game of the year for Tampa. I was doing super well in the AHL all year and I was just replacing somebody because they were managing their players before playoffs, I guess. I got called up and it was a pretty big game against Boston with the divisional rivalry. I was able to get a loose puck on the right side at the top of the circle and I released it from there on Tuukka Rask. It beat him short-side top corner. It was a really, really nice shot and it's one of my most proud moments for sure.

GL: You wore No. 42 then, how did you get that number?
JM: Tough number. They just gave it to me and the next year after I was up all year with them and I still had 42. They said, 'you can have whatever number you want.' So, midseason, after like 40 games, I just switched and the next day I was No. 81.

GL: What was it like to get that goal?
JM: When you work your whole life to get to be on a team, even when I was young it was always 'oh he's never going to make that team, he's too small,' or 'he's never going to get to that camp, he's too small,' or 'he's never going to have a good season, he's too small.' It was 'he's never going to play junior, he's too small,' and then 'he's never going to do well in junior.' It was the same thing when I went pro. 'He's way too small to play pro,' and when I arrived in the AHL, I started having success immediately. So, it's one of those things where you work, and everyone tells you that you can't do it your entire life. Well, I went there, and I did it. I get goosebumps every time I think about it.

GL: Who'd you call after that game?
JM: My wife. I met her my first-year pro, so she's been through the ups and a lot of the downs when I was in the minors. It was one of those things where she was so happy for me and I think my whole family was watching back home because it was only like my fourth game in the NHL. Every time you do something great, your phone blows up. That was one of the times my phone was blowing up with congratulations and things like that.

GL: Have you got a No. 42 jersey somewhere?
JM: I do back home. That year I scored my first NHL goal and then went back to the minors for the start of the playoffs. We started the playoffs and we didn't have as good a team as Wilkes-Barre, so we lost in the first round and, after that, I was a Black Ace. I went up super early and I remember Tampa was playing against Montreal in the second round. I arrived there and I'm a Black Ace the entire series. Ryan Callahan had to have hernia surgery and I'm doing what a Black Ace does - I'm at the restaurant having fun with a couple of cocktails. I remember it was like 9 o'clock and I'm two or three cocktails deep. I know all the boys are going out after and the head coach calls me. He says, 'hey buddy, you're in tomorrow.' It was Game 6 in the second round of the playoffs against Montreal and it was so surprising because they had Jonathan Drouin who was healthy scratched and Vladislav Namestnikov who was scratched as well. So somehow, I got in the lineup before those two guys and I did super well. After that was Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. That was when it really hit me that I was doing something amazing. Conclusion, I still have one of my jerseys because I played in the playoffs with them. We went to the Finals and I didn't play one game in the Finals, but we could keep our jerseys.

GL: When you have special moments now, do you ever look back at that moment?
JM: Along the years I've been collecting a few things. Every year I go back in that room, I have a small room here where I keep a few jerseys like from when I had a hat trick in Florida, Team Canada jersey, all my jerseys I've played with in the NHL, but back home I want to do something bigger and I'm building that house right now so everything is in a closet right now. It's one of those things where I look at it and I see my first AHL game with the Connecticut Whale, so I see that jersey and I think 'wow, it's been a while already.' I like to remind myself of my first goal as well. I still have the puck as well. Tampa is a really high-class organization, so they made a nice frame with the scoreboard and everything.

Nate Schmidt

Nate Becomes a Knight

  • Nate Schmidt was selected by the Golden Knights from the Washington Capitals during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft on June 21, 2017
  • Schmidt collected a career-high 36 points (5 G, 31 A) after appearing in 76 games during his first season in Vegas
  • The defenseman signed a six-year contract extension with the Golden Knights following the 2017-18 season

Gary Lawless: What's the biggest moment in your career?
Nate Schmidt: The biggest moment was being drafted here. Obviously, I'd say the biggest moment would be that first game, I'd say that was my favorite moment of my VGK career. But I'd say getting drafted here and here's why: When I was picked up, it was bittersweet. We'd just lost in Washington, I was playing on a really good team, I was finally playing with John Carlson and at the end of the season they were like you're the guy. You're playing with Carlson and this is what we want going forward. Coming here I was excited because Erik Haula was coming here to Vegas, but you're going from a winning team to an unknown. So, the biggest moment was that whole process in that couple months mulling over what was happening and then getting here and seeing what all happened. So, it wasn't maybe that one day, but that moment of being drafted and seeing what it was in the present, what it looked like to what it has evolved into.

GL: What was the day of the expansion draft like for you? Did you know you were getting drafted?
NS: No, so I knew before they announced it. It was between me and this one other guy, me and Phillip Grubauer. I sat in my parents living room for like the entire day. In the morning I was sitting there, and I was coaching a hockey camp and I had to be at the rink, and I called them and I'm like, hey I'm sorry I can't make practice today. I'm sitting there and I'm pacing back and forth. I get a call from my agent and I get a call from Brian MacLellan, and all of a sudden you get a call from your mom telling you to put the oven on and you freak out. You're like mom shut up! The meatloaf! It was pretty nerve-wracking because again, it was that moment of looking where I was at. I was kind of hoping because every day for a week my agent would call me and be like 'you're going to take it.' And the next day, 'nope they're going with Grubauer.' It was just such an emotional rollercoaster for I don't know how many days because I'd get excited about going back to Washington and then he'd be like 'nope, you're going to Vegas.' I was coaching my team that afternoon and they're in their teens and I was on the bench and I get this phone call and I was like, I don't keep my phone on, and these kids were like it's a big tournament for that. And I get this phone call and it's from George McPhee and I look at the head coach and was like, hey I've got to take this. There's nothing behind the benches so I had to climb over the glass in the middle of the play and I'm running down the hallway. And then I stop and was like "Hey George, what's up?" That's when I found out. I knew at the expansion draft. That night I gave my speech to the 102 kids. It was still, hey we're taking you, but it seemed like a little bit of an unknown still because MacLellan had told me they were going to make one last ditch effort to try and keep you. But George told me he was taking me. So, there were kids on their phones in the middle of my speech telling them about my journey telling me you just got picked up by Vegas! It was funny. I'll never forget that. We sat there and talked about it for a little while and it was cool.

GL: Do you have a keepsake from that day that reminds you of that day?
NS: To be honest, every time I go back to the camp, I think about it now. I told the story last year, and I was going to tell it this year, I remember sitting here when I got picked up by Vegas. I can always remember sitting on that bench.

GL: What was the camp?
NS: It was at St. Cloud State. It's a camp to send the kids to the national camp. It was Minnesota's best 15-year-olds.

GL: Who did you share that news with?
NS: I'm pretty sure I called my dad first to let him know. I think he was with my brother at the time, so I called my best buddy. Ally and I were in our first-year dating, so I think I called my family members and she found out later in the day. Actually, hold on I may have called Phillip Grubauer first. I'm pretty sure I called him first because he had started looking for houses here already. They were like, they're taking you, Dave Prior loves you and the whole year that was what everyone was talking about. When I look back at it, I'm pretty sure I called him first. I let him know that hey man, they called me, and they said they're taking me. I think it was the right thing to do because I would want to know. I don't know is it better to hear from a player or is it better to hear from them?

GL: From your buddy for sure.
NS: I think so too, even though sometimes it's not the best news.

Alex Tuch

Tuch Breaks Through

  • Alex Tuch appeared in 78 games during his first season in Vegas with the Golden Knights
  • Tuch had previously played in just six NHL games, all with the Minnesota Wild
  • The forward was selected by Minnesota with the 18th pick in the first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your NHL career?
Alex Tuch: The biggest moment of my career was becoming a full-time NHL player with the Golden Knights. I know my first-ever goal was an unbelievable experience, but for me to call myself a full-time NHL-er was something that I always dreamed about and always worked towards. With that being said, making it to the Stanley Cup Final will always be remembered as well.

GL: Why was becoming a full-time NHL player so important?
AT: I've worked tirelessly since I was three years old. Every waking moment I've just thought about what it would mean to myself and my family. I've never not thought of playing in the NHL. I've never said I'm 100% going to do it, but I've never said I would not be able to either.

GL: When did it click-in for you that you made it?
AT: It wasn't one exact moment. I played each game with the mentality that they could send me down back to the minors if I don't play well. I wanted to take each game shift-by-shift, game-by-game and really go out there and enjoy myself because it is such a special thing to be part of and a special team to be part of. Over time, I made it. Once I got the housing letter, that was a big mark. It was, 'go get a place, you're going to be here for a good amount of time.' It was a really special moment and I was able to share it with Shea Theodore on the same day. We were both very excited.

GL: How does that work?
AT: Well we were staying at the Red Rock Hotel and Casino. I had been there for a little less than two months; Shea was there for about a month and a half. He actually saw the email first and then told me to check my email. I saw the email and we embraced each other. It was a really special moment. A housing letter means that you're going to be around for a while and to go out and get a place. It is something that you never forget.

GL: Who sends the letter?
AT: It was an email from the Golden Knights. I can't remember exactly who sent it, but I know that George McPhee was the one who signed off on it.

GL: Do you still have it?
AT: It is deep in my email, but yeah, I do.

GL: What happened next?
AT: At that point, we decided that we were the youngest guys on the team, and both just got our housing letter, so looked for a place together. We decided to rent a house and used the real estate agent that most of our teammates used. Really good guy that helped us get a place.

GL: What was the place like?
AT: We did a whole walkthrough; it was a nice four-bedroom home with a pool and putting green in the backyard. It was a little older home, but really good size for when our family wanted to come and see us so they could stay with us. We turned it into a bit of a bachelor pad. It was all fully furnished, but we went out and bought ourselves a nice lounge couch. We had a lot of fun; it was a great place.

GL: Who was the better roommate?
AT: Honestly it just depends on what you're used to. I'd say that he might have been a little bit tidier than I was, but we had a really good system where I cooked most of the meals and he would do most of the dishes. We drove together during most of the travel to the rink and the airport and games. We had really good chemistry on and off the ice.

Robin Lehner

Robin Wins On The Island

  • Robin Lehner earned his first-career playoff win on April 10, 2019, inside Nassau Coliseum, as the New York Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime, 4-3
  • Following the completion of the 2018-19 season, Lehner was named the recipient of the Bill Masterton Award, given annually to the NHL player that best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey
  • Prior to the 2018-19 season with the Islanders, the goaltender publicly revealed addiction and mental health issues that he faced earlier in his NHL career

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment of your career?
Robin Lehner: It's really tough to say. Being in the League now for almost 10 years, there have been a lot of good moments. It's hard to pinpoint. You can go back to the Calder Cup championship with Binghamton was a cool moment, but honestly the first playoff game with Long Island at home in the coliseum was one of my favorites.

GL: Tell me about it…
RL: The personal emotions were just a collective part of the whole season. That fanbase was just so spectacular in supporting me and my journey from day one. I still remember the first preseason game that I played in the Coliseum that year. When they introduced my name, I pretty much got a standing ovation from them and it was something I never expected because I never really had that before in my career. The continued support I had throughout the whole season with that fanbase and team made the season so special for me. It really supported me and made me play better. When we walked out there for the playoffs, it was something special for sure. It is hard to put words on it, because it was not attached to the game. It was something special, the connection that I had with that fanbase. They were helping me to perform and turn around my career.

GL: For clarity, expand on what you went through before your time with the Islanders...
RL: I wasn't exactly popular in Buffalo; you know what I mean. I didn't really have a great summer interviewing with teams and the way Long Island took me in and helped me get back on track. I obviously helped them get back on track as well. It was a mutually beneficial relationship that just turned into something bigger with that fanbase. That fanbase is incredibly special and incredibly personal towards all their players. It was just some type of really special chemistry with that fanbase. Middle class, very hard-working fanbase that really connected with me and I connected with them. They supported my journey and my story. They wanted me to succeed and they helped me to succeed.

GL: What was that day of the first playoff game like?
RL: I have a pretty good ability of just approaching each day the same as everything else. I remember it was a very exciting day. When I pulled up to the rink, everyone was tailgating in a filled parking lot from very early in the morning. The fanbase was out there supporting us the whole day and I will never forget the atmosphere in that rink. You couldn't hear anything because it was so loud. It was a pretty cool day.

GL: Who in particular did you share that day with?
RL: My wife was there with my kids and I got to share it with them after the game. It was a pretty special game and special series in general. It was too bad that it ended too early.

GL: Did you save anything over that stretch?
RL: Yeah, I have my masks and probably have some sticks. Stuff like that.

GL: What is it like looking back at that moment?
RL: It just brings me a lot of joy. It was a big steppingstone in my career. It is special for goalies too, to show that you can be successful in the playoffs as well and perform in the playoffs no matter what the pressure. That was big for me. Extremely appreciative of my coaches for giving me the chance to start the playoffs and put the trust in me to move forward. A lot of appreciation to them. It was something that not everyone gets to experience. It just gave me so much more fuel. We all want to win the Stanley Cup, but it just burned even more after we lost against Carolina.

Tomas Nosek

  • Tomas Nosek scored the game-winning goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on May 28, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena
  • Nosek gave Vegas the lead midway through the third period, then scored again on an empty net to make it a 6-4 final
  • It was the forward's first-career appearance in the Stanley Cup Final

Gary Lawless: What is the biggest moment in your career so far?
Tomas Nosek: Personally, I think it was the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final, Game 1. I don't think I'd ever scored such an important goal in my career before or after. I'd would say that's my biggest moment personally and as a team winning the Calder Cup Championship in Grand Rapids.

GL: On the day you scored the goal in the Stanley Cup Final, what was that day like?
TS: I think it was like every other day. I tried to focus on my routine. There was morning pregame skate and I had a lunch like always, salmon with pasta. Then I took a nap and got ready for the game. I didn't do anything special.

GL: What was the game like?
TS: I remember it was a pretty nervous game. We didn't play well. I think we got a little bit lucky. I think since it was Game 1 everyone was a little bit nervous. There was a lot of mistakes I think for a game in the Stanley Cup Final.

GL: What makes it so special?
TS: It was the Stanley Cup Final. It's the biggest thing you can achieve in hockey to win a Stanley Cup. Being in the Stanley Cup Final was something special.

GL: Did you keep anything from that night?
TS: I think the puck went to the Hall of Fame, that's what Critter told me. I got the puck from Game 3 I think when I scored again, but not the one from Game 1.

GL: Two goals in the Stanley Cup Final is pretty good.
TS: Yeah, it was. Good memories for sure, except we didn't win it in the end. It still hurts but we'll get over it and hopefully win the cup this year or next year.

GL: How did you react after you scored?
TS: I remember I was so excited that I scored. My parents had just arrived from the Czech Republic to see me play the first two games and I was so happy they were there. I put my celly toward the section they were sitting. Shea made a great pass so I kind of pointed to Shea. That's what I remember.

GL: What was it like to see your wife and parents after the game?
TS: It was awesome. There were tears even in my father's eyes a little bit. I think he was happy for sure and everyone was happy for me, including me.