The Golden Knights are back. Back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Back to the place they saw their storybook inaugural season come to an end, just short of ultimate glory.
For the six players who were there then, the memories of that final series are all returning to the front of their minds, but instead of trying to run from them, they’re taking a different approach.
That first year was just kind of a whirlwind. We’d never been there before and everything was kind of flowing and I don’t know maybe we took it for granted a little bit back then. Five years later there’s been ups and downs and this opportunity doesn’t come around too often. -Karlsson
That group’s feelings have permeated through the entire Vegas roster. It was on full display as they skated as a team towards the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl to be officially crowned Western Conference Champions.
Last time they won, five years ago, de facto captain Deryk Engelland snatched the trophy and began passing it around. They took pictures with it, they brought it back to the locker room, and they clearly cherished it as an accomplishment no one ever expected them to achieve.
And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. They climbed a mountain most believed was unscalable for an expansion team, and they deserved the honor and the glory that’s represented by the trophy presented to the best team in the West.
This time though, not a single player laid a finger on it.
Just talked with the guys (about not touching the trophy). The ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup. So we took a picture with it and we’re moving on to the next one. Whether it’s a curse or not, I don’t know. We just want to win the Stanley Cup, that’s really all it is. -Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault admitted he was vocal about the decision, still clearly bothered by the fact that the last trip to the Final did not end how they wished.
This time they feel more prepared.
Our team is more mature than we were in that first year. No one was expecting us and we kind of just showed up there and looked at the opportunity. This team wants to win and we will never be finished until we raise that Cup. I’ve kind of got that feeling where the boys feel like tonight is just another series and it’s not the end of the road, we really want more. -Carrier
The feeling in the room about the history of that fateful team was palpable. It doesn’t feel debilitating though. Instead, it’s serving as a reminder and a motivator.
It’s fun to be back with (the guys from the first season) and along the years you go through ups and down and to be back here with them is an opportunity of a lifetime. We know we’ve been here and we lost it. It was disappointing and we learned from it and now we’re back so we have to take advantage of it. -Marchessault
This team is ready.
Ready for tonight’s moment.
Ready to make amends for what went wrong the last time.
Ready to finish the job.