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Marchessault, Chiasson put friendship on hold during Stanley Cup Final

Tight-knit Golden Knights, Capitals forwards aren't talking until series ends

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Last Thursday, the day after Alex Chiasson's Washington Capitals advanced to face Jonathan Marchessault's Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final, they exchanged congratulatory texts.

"Then, we pretty much said we wouldn't talk again until after the series is over," Marchessault said.

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage | Stanley Cup Final schedule]

 

With that, a friendship of more than 20 years was put on hold. The next time they talk, one of them will be a Stanley Cup champion.

"We've known each other for a really long time, so it's pretty unique to play each other in the Stanley Cup Final," Chiasson said. "We're each on a different team and we're each striving for one goal."

After the Capitals' 3-2 win in Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, the best-of-7 series is tied 1-1 with Game 3 at Washington on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). Chiasson was a healthy scratch for the first two games but might return to the lineup for Game 3 after center Evgeny Kuznetsov left Game 2 with an upper-body injury. 

Chiasson said Marchessault is "as close as a brother to me." In fact, he was the best man at Marchessault's wedding in 2013.

But if their paths cross on the ice Saturday, Marchessault said he'll treat him like any other opponent.

"On the ice, there are no friends," Marchessault said.

Chiasson agreed.

"We'll battle. That's what we do," Chiasson said. "That's what makes our friendship really special. We're both guys that work really hard. When there's a puck on the ice and it's a 1-on-1, I'll want it maybe more or he'll want it maybe more than I do. We'll see."

Playing in the Stanley Cup Final is something Chiasson and Marchessault, each 27, have dreamed about since they were growing up in neighboring Quebec towns. Chiasson is from Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures, and Marchessault lived in Cap-Rouge.

Video: WSH@STL: Chiasson tallies nifty goal on breakaway

They met playing hockey against each other when they were 7 years old.

"The only reason why he's not from the town I'm from is just because of the (town) line," Chiasson said. "He's literally just on the border, so we were like a five-minute bike ride from each other."

They spent so much time at each other's homes as boys, they didn't have to knock on the front door before entering. 

"If I was there, I would just come in and say 'Hi' or whatever, and he'd do the same at my home," Chiasson said. "We're both really close to each other's family."

They followed different paths to the NHL. Marchessault, a 5-foot-9, 174-pound forward, went undrafted after playing four seasons with Quebec in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 

Chiasson, a 6-foot-4, 208-pound forward, was selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round (No. 38) of the 2009 NHL Draft after playing for Northwood Prep in Lake Placid, New York, in 2007-08 and Des Moines in the United States Hockey League in 2008-09.

Although Marchessault knew he was unlikely to be picked in the 2009 draft, which was held in Montreal, he went with Chiasson anyway.

"I just remember him being there for me," Chiasson said. "I was there for him at different times as well. That's kind of been our relationship."

Following his junior career, Marchessault turned a training camp tryout with the New York Rangers into an American Hockey League contract with the Connecticut Whale in 2011-12. The following season he signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

He played two NHL games for the Blue Jackets in 2012-13 but spent most of that season in the AHL with Springfield. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 5, 2014, and continued to struggle to establish himself as an NHL regular.

Marchessault said that was when Chiasson was there for him.

"We've always supported each other," Marchessault said. 

Marchessault never found a consistent role with Tampa Bay but had a breakout season in 2016-17 after signing with the Florida Panthers, getting 51 points (30 goals, 21 assists) in 75 games. After he was claimed by Vegas in the NHL Expansion Draft, he finished second on the Golden Knights with an NHL career-high 75 points (27 goals, 48 assists), behind linemate William Karlsson's 78.

Vegas rewarded him with a six-year, $30 million contract Jan. 3. In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Marchessault has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists), tied for the Golden Knights lead with linemate Reilly Smith and an NHL record for a player with a team in its first postseason.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm3: Marchessault dekes for backhander

"What he's done the last couple of years and what he's doing right now is tremendous," Chiasson said. "I couldn't be happier for a guy."

Chiasson turned pro in 2012 after playing three seasons at Boston University. He's bounced around the NHL the past five seasons with the Stars, Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames. 

This season, he made the Capitals as a training camp tryout and had 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 61 games skating mostly on the fourth line. Chiasson has played in 16 of the Capitals' 21 playoff games and has a goal and an assist.

"At different times, things have gone differently for each of us, but we've always been there for each other," Marchessault said. "We're both competitors and we pushed each other to get to this level. Now, we're in the Stanley Cup Final."

One will win and the other will be disappointed, but that won't weaken the bond between them. 

"It's kind of surreal," Chiasson said. "I'm not sure if we realize where we're at. We're each riding a different wave. Ultimately, we're in the Stanley Cup Final. But our 20-year friendship, memories and all the stuff that we've done together, you're never going to be able to erase that. That's going to last forever."

***

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