The Golden Knights won their first preseason game of the 2019-2020 campaign with a mix of veterans and rookies. Vets like Max Pacioretty and Reilly Smith took the game over mid-first period and led the Knights to an easy 6-2 victory.
Things weren’t always that easy for Pacioretty, Smith or other VGK players. Just like their younger teammates, they had to adjust to the speed and the high competition level at their first NHL camps.
I was in New York, and it was tough. -Jonathan Marchessault
Marchessault participated in several NHL team camps but his first was with the New York Rangers. Where he got to share the ice with one of his favorite NHL players.
Marian Gaborik. I remember I was playing on a line with him. Hell of a player. Growing up he was one of my favorite players. It was fun to see him out there.- Marchessault
When Pacioretty attended his first NHL camp, it was like the Wild West.
There were no rules on how much they could work you and how long you could be at the rink. I think as rookies we lived at the rink. Whether it was being in the back looking at Alex Kovalev’s stick, his curve. Seeing what he does to change his pattern and his flex. -Pacioretty
Pacioretty learned some valuable lessons early on from several NHL stars.
Saku Koivu, I remember he pulled me aside one day in the stick room and taught me about all the little tweaks he makes on his stick. He’d help with a couple of stick handling moves that he would eventually stay after practice and teach me.-Pacioretty
The 11-year veteran dug up an old story about one of his first NHL preseason games. It ended up being a special night and not just for him.
I was able to play a preseason game with Alex Kovalev which was rare in that camp because they didn’t mix the rookies and the vets that much. It was definitely the highlight of my life. When I found out about it I called my Dad, and as soon as he hung up the phone he got in his car and drove up to the game. He made for puck drop and I’m sure he shed a few tears up top watching because he’s a pretty emotional guy. -Pacioretty
Reilly Smith started in Dallas, but due to a work stoppage the rookies trained with the Stars’ AHL affiliate.
My first camp was during the lockout, so it was with the Texas Stars in the AHL. We didn’t have NHL camp that year. So, it was a little different. You know I wasn’t able to play with guys like Jonny Marchessault right out of the bat. I was fortunate enough to have Jagr on my team and Ray Whitney. Good soundboards but also great mentors for a young hockey player. -Smith
Malcolm Subban spent his first camp with the Boston Bruins.
My first camp I was eighteen and I was really nervous. I had never been to anything like it before. Being on the ice with Tuukka [Rask] was pretty sick and getting to watch him play. And just seeing how big [Zdeno] Chara was. It was crazy how tall he is in person, and on the ice. -Subban
Being a rookie does have its benefits. Like Zdeno Chara putting the breaks on his high-speed slapshot.
Early on he took it easy on me, but as I got older he would let them rip. -Subban