Golden Knights owner Bill Foley got his wish, earning his first championship in Vegas’ sixth season as an NHL franchise.
Foley called his shot in Nov. 2016 before his team ever took the ice, and now the franchise has won a Stanley Cup, knocking off the Florida Panthers in five games after they made it back to the Cup Final for the first time since 1996. Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy was hired one year ago today by the Golden Knights. Now he’s a champion for the first time in his career.
Vegas became the quickest expansion team to win the Stanley Cup — a record previously held by the Philadelphia Flyers, who won the Cup in their seventh season.
The Golden Knights won a decisive Game 5 on Tuesday with a 9-3 beatdown. Vegas was led by forwards Mark Stone, who had a hat trick, and Jack Eichel, who picked up three helpers. Stone’s hat trick is the first in a Stanley Cup Final-clinching game since 1922, and it was the first hat trick since Peter Forsberg, who also tallied his against the Panthers in 1996.
Vegas finished the playoffs with a plus-31 goal differential, which was tied for the ninth best in a postseason run, and matching the 2008 Detroit Red Wings as the best mark since 1995. Coming into Game 5, Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill became the first goalie in NHL history to win 10 games after not playing in the first round of the playoffs.
Forward Jonathan Marchessault, one of six original players from Vegas’ inaugural season in which it made it the Cup Final in 2018, won the Conn Smythe Trophy after scoring 25 points through 22 games across four rounds of the postseason. Marchessault is the first undrafted skater since Wayne Gretzky to win the Conn Smythe in 1988.
Golden Knights president of hockey operations George McPhee won his first Stanley Cup after 40 years in the NHL without one. He was the team’s first-ever general manager before promoting Kelly McCrimmon to the role in 2019.
The Panthers were without forward Matthew Tkachuk, who Florida head coach Paul Maurice confirmed suffered a broken sternum in Game 4. Maurice told reporters postgame that there are some skaters who will need four to six months to heal after taking damage during their run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Nashville Hockey Now
Forward Gavin Brindley is available this summer in the 2023 NHL Draft. He just completed his freshman season at the University of Michigan, scoring 38 points in 41 games and he won a bronze medal with team USA at the World Junior Championship.
NHN’s Michael Gallagher took an inside look at what he could offer at the NHL level and what he could potentially bring to the Predators if the team takes him in the first round of the 2023 draft. Look for his story on Nashville Hockey Now later today.
We’ll also have a look at what’s running through incoming general manager Barry Trotz‘s mind as he scours the trade market looking for potential deals.
Around the NHL and National Hockey Now
Florida Hockey Now: On the other side of Tuesday’s Game 5, George Richards walks through what things were like from the Panthers press box in Vegas.
Philly Hockey Now: Former long-term NHLer Patrick Sharp was named Special Advisor to Hockey Operations, the team announced Tuesday. Sharp has a long history of winning championships, including three Stanley Cups, a Calder Cup and an Olympics gold medal.
San Jose Hockey Now: In the latest edition of Locked on Sharks, defensive prospects Caden Price was the main topic. Sebastian High of Dobber Prospects joined to profile the Kelowna Rocket ahead of the NHL Draft in a few weeks.
Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter: @KieserNick
(Top Photo Credit: NHL/@NHL on Twitter)