It was a difficult season for the Golden Knights and specifically captain Mark Stone. The 30-year-old forward skated in the least amount of games since his second year in the league. Injuries plagued not only his season but the entire Golden Knights roster as well. According to Stone, the locker room felt foreign due to the shuffling of player. Not only were the players dealing with injuries, they were frustrated nightly by their underperforming power play. As Stone put it, the Golden Knights tasted their first slice of humble pie.
We had some pretty fluky injuries that were really hard to recover from during the season. We’re a veteran group so it’ll be nice to get the bodies healed and ready to go for the start of the season. Kind of prove that we’re good as we think we are. Got a little taste of humble pie this season and wasn’t fun to be a part of.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
The ten year veteran watched the team flounder without his services and the likes of other vital Golden Knights players. Not only was it troublesome on the ice the club was having difficulties in the locker room as well. Stone never mentioned the roster was fractured but it was noticeably different from years past.
Everybody in that dressing room has to take a good hard look in the mirror and get back to the way things were done in the past and get back to our roots a little bit. It was a difficult year as far as adding 10-15 new players. It seemed like we had to reintroduce ourselves every night. We got to get back to being that hard working team out working our opponents. That’s when we allow our skill to take over.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
As VGK fans heard all season, extended injuries severely impacted their results. Stone openly discussed his back surgery and also mentioned the Golden Knights may be without their number one stopper for an unspecified amount of time.
Considering I got back surgery a month ago I don’t think there’s much to debate. I’m battling a pretty bad back and ended up getting a discectomy and should be ready to go first day of training camp. In the bubble Robin was one of the best goalies on the planet. As it goes for most guys this year in our team he battled tons of health issues. He got shoulder surgery and probably going to be out for quite awhile. He’s just looking to get healthy and prove everyone wrong again.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
At this point the injury plagued season is in the past and Stone is preparing mentally and physically for a bounce back season. With the addition of new coach Bruce Cassidy the captain expects more ferocity from his teammates.
I think he’s going to bring a lot of intensity to the room. I think he’s going to get the best of our players. I love the way Boston plays. They are so hard to play against. I’m excited. I love our talent and now I’m excited to see we’re we can go with him and see if he can push all the right buttons to get us over that hump. And have even more success.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
Another reason for optimism is Stone will finally be able to build chemistry with star center Jack Eichel. The Golden Knights front office traded for the high end center to match up with their highly paid, two-way winger. Barring no injuries the two will anchor VGK’s most lethal line. It’ll be up to Cassidy to figure out who will skate with Eichel and Stone.
Yeah I can’t wait. I only got to play eight games with him. I almost felt so bad for him. When he came back pretty much all of us left the lineup and weren’t able to help him. There are so many wrong takes on Jack Eichel the player and the person. More than anyone he works on his game as much as anyone I’ve ever played with him. I’m excited to get him feeling comfortable and ready to go for opening day come October.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
Unprovoked, Stone addressed the swirling comments that have surrounded Eichel since his days in Buffalo. For the most part Golden Knights fans don’t care what happened in Buffalo. It’s not their problem, he plays in Vegas now but clearly Vegas’ captain felt the need to praise his teammate’s work ethic.
Sticking with Eichel, Stone told NHL radio that he would like to see his center in control of the puck on man-advantages. There’s no sugarcoating it, the Golden Knights power play was lousy for a year and a half. Stone was unafraid to say he thinks the PP cost him and his teammates two chances at the Stanley Cup. With Cassidy and Eichel in control of the power play it’s possible Vegas sees an uptick in production early on.
I’d like Jack to have the puck in his hands. That’s a good start. We were so close to making the playoffs we felt like we didn’t play well at all. If our power play is 20% this year we’re probably in the playoffs. It’s kind of a make or break for us. If we can get that fixed it’ll help us win more hockey games. Our power play has hindered us. We’d probably play for two Stanley Cups if our power play was just a little bit better over the last couple of years.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
While the Vegas’ heart and soul sounded positive and eager to start next season there were still some uncertainties. Like, how does Stone feel about the golden helmets?
As far as the helmet goes, we’ve got great games with them and we’ve had mediocre games with them. It’s been a year and a half and I still haven’t made my decision on them. I want to give them a try with the gold jerseys and see how that goes. It may really surprise a team coming out.-Mark Stone on Sirius NHL radio
We’ll Mark, I’m not so sure gold matches with mustard.