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Schmidt set to lead Golden Knights against former teammates in Cup Final

Revels in role as top defenseman, not interested that Capitals wanted him back

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

LAS VEGAS -- Nate Schmidt isn't interested in what went on behind the scenes between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights.

The defenseman instead is focused on helping his new team, the Golden Knights, against his old team, the Capitals, in the Stanley Cup Final beginning with Game 1 of the best-of-7 series here Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

Schmidt was left unprotected by the Capitals in the NHL Expansion Draft and selected by the Golden Knights. He went from being the No. 7 defenseman for the Capitals to the top defenseman on his new team.

 

[RELATED: Complete Golden Knights vs. Capitals series coverage]

 

On Sunday, Vegas general manager George McPhee, the former GM in Washington, said the Capitals were interested in reacquiring Schmidt but a trade could not be consummated.

"I don't know how to answer that," Schmidt said when asked about it at Media Day. "I really enjoyed my time in Washington. The team was special and they clearly still had a chance to do something. I must have been the reason why, I must have been the problem."

Schmidt was joking about being the problem in Washington, but he also acknowledged he somewhat separated himself from the Capitals once he was left exposed for the expansion draft, even before it became official that he would be selected by Vegas.

Video: Schmidt discusses being ready for Stanley Cup Final

"I stayed as far away from the process as possible," he said. "I was coaching a hockey tournament that week. I was more focused on my D pairings. By the way, the coaching is tough."

Schmidt said he was coaching the defense at a Select-15 summer festival in Minnesota. He attended the camp, then was a counselor while attending college. Upon graduation, he was promoted to coach.

"Their mistake not mine," he said. "I just dipped my toes into it. It's a lot of fun, I really enjoy it."

He also knows he is going to enjoy the Stanley Cup Final, playing against former teammates, many of whom are still friends.

"You could almost tell this game was meant to be, especially all the things and the storylines that have come about," Schmidt said. "I don't know if you could have written this thing up much better. You [reporters] are probably going to have a field day with this. It's crazy."

Video: McPhee discusses Nate Schmidt at Media Day

McPhee said he heard from Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan immediately after picking Schmidt.

"We made our selection, and then he called and asked if there's any way we could do a deal for him to get Schmidt back, and I said, 'I don't see anything, but we'll try to come up with something to give you a chance to say no,'" McPhee said. "So we made a proposal that I didn't think would work, and it didn't work because our guys like Schmidt. So we overreached on the ask, and that's the way it went."

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