From the moment the puck dropped in their first ever game in October 2017, the Vegas Golden Knights have rallied around the mantra of having a team of 23 captains.
Most of that had to do with the events of Oct. 1, but it was still a team of misfits created from the same cloth — their former teams wanted nothing to do with them.
The leadership group, from the time Gerard Gallant was coach and George McPhee was general manager, has remained consistent.
Times have changed. The Golden Knights have been to a Stanley Cup Final and are about to play in their third Stanley Cup Playoffs in their three-year history. Gallant is gone and McPhee, technically speaking, is no longer general manager. It’s Peter DeBoer’s squad now, and he’s prepared to make the long-awaited move of naming the first captain in the team’s history prior to next season.
“We’re not going to name a captain before we go back,” DeBoer said on a Zoom call Wednesday. “We will have one prior to the start of next season. I think we don’t need to add to everything that’s going on right now.”
While the 23-captain ideology is great in hindsight, all but five teams in the NHL have a captain. At this current state, it doesn’t make sense for the Golden Knights to be involved in any company that includes the Ottawa Senators, Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils (we’ll keep the New York Rangers out of this for sake of being a playoff team).
But it’s about time for the Golden Knights to have a captain, just to say a “new era” for the newest hockey team on the block is needed.
The clubhouse leader, Stone does it all — score, pass, play defense, fight people, and be a mentor to the young guys.
Mark Stone just one-punched Roman Josi pic.twitter.com/Vh43d1Q9MJ— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 16, 2019
Such counsel Stone has provided in the past doesn’t stop at the Vegas kids like Peyton Krebs and Cody Glass. When Stone was in Ottawa, he allowed young Senators forward Brady Tkachuk to stay at his home. Stone has since done the same for the young Krebs, who just moved back into Stone’s house Tuesday after serving a mandatory quarantine period.
Dating back to Krebs rehabbing his partially torn Achilles — that became a determining factor in him falling to Vegas — Stone opened his home to the 17th overall pick of last summer’s NHL Draft.
“He’s been a guy I’ve texted a lot, [telling me to] just have fun and do what I can,” Krebs said about his first training camp with the Golden Knights. “It’s my first camp, [so he told me] ‘don’t put any pressure on yourself.’ So just go out and have fun.”
On the ice, Stone’s play speaks for itself; a Selke finalist in 2019 and one of the best two-way forwards in the game. He had 63 points in 65 games in his first full year with Vegas before sustaining a lower-body injury Feb. 28 that kept him out for the remainder of the regular season.
“Stoney’s been fantastic,” DeBoer said. “You couldn’t ask for a better mentor and an example on the ice and off the ice, too. He’s all business. Even through Phase 1 and 2, Stoney was one of the first guys here, ready to set the tone. I think for a young guy coming into the league, he’s a great role model.”
The former captain of the Montreal Canadiens reached the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career this season. Pacioretty led the Golden Knights in scoring with 66 points after a lackluster first year in Vegas in 2019 (40 points).
As far as a locker room presence and representing the Golden Knights, no doubt Pacioretty could do it. You captain the Canadiens, in that market, for a few years, you’re bound to get worn out. Pressure gone, Pacioretty has taken back his perch as one of the dangerous goal scorers in the league, ironically playing on a line with Stone.
But as Pacioretty eluded to in his introductory press conference in September 2018, maybe being the captain isn’t in the cards.
“When I came here, the quote I heard was there are 23 captains, and I couldn’t put it better myself,” he said at the time. “This is the situation I want to be in. I want to worry about playing hockey.”
There’s no doubt given his status as one of the elder statesmen that Pacioretty would be fine. If he even wants to be, though, is another story.
Loud, boisterous, willing to stick up for his teammates, all at a staggering 5-foot-9.
But dare get in Marchessault’s face and you best be ready to face the wrath of the spider monkey.
Update: Fleury isn’t prepared to go more than three rounds in the octagon.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) January 3, 2019
Marchy: “He can have whatever (rounds) he wants. I’ll go beast mode. I’m a f***ing spider monkey.” #VegasBorn https://t.co/MT626VDRDi
SPIDER MONKEY MARCHY INCOMING https://t.co/ZJN9mDfdmT— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) October 20, 2019
Marchessault is a fan favorite. His loud personality on the ice makes him enjoyable among his teammates; his loud voice off the ice after games also oozes the kind of charisma one would possess if he were a captain.
Also, it just seems right to have an original Golden Knight have some consideration.