Eshel retains the Stanley Cup title after a difficult path to the first playoffs

Eshel retains the Stanley Cup title after a difficult path to the first playoffs

Moments after hitting the top with the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, the forward, who hasn’t made the playoffs in his first seven NHL seasons, was asked if that’s what he thought.

Eichel said after the Golden Knights won their first Stanley Cup in their six NHL seasons when they defeated the Florida Panthers 9-3 in Game 5 From the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena.

“I will enjoy this.”

It was a happy moment for Eshel, who celebrated the cup with his teammates, family and friends.

“It’s a lifelong dream,” Eichel said of lifting the Stanley Cup, “just to get your hands on that thing.” “You never know if that will happen, and that you will be able to do it.”

Video: FLA @ VGK, Gm5: Eichel talks about winning the cup

Whether it was scoring, grounding his Golden Knights teammates on their goals, or checking back, Eichel was fantastic. He led the NHL with 26 post-season points (six goals, 20 assists), the most assists in playoff history for the Golden Knights. straight ahead Riley Smith He had 17 in 2017-18, when Vegas advanced to the Cup Final in its inaugural season, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.

“I mean, the first game, his first win, right? That’s a good average,” said Golden Knights forward and teammate Eichel. Jonathan Marquessaultwho won the Conn Smythe Award as the postseason’s Most Valuable Player.

“Honestly, since he came last year we’ve just been a different team and he’s going to be a game-changer for our group. He was unbelievable and this (Conn Smith) trophy could have definitely gone to him.”

Eichel recorded eight assists in five matches in the Final, tied for the most among active players by a striker Mikko Rantanenwho had eight last season with the Colorado Avalanche in their final Cup win against the Tampa Bay Lightning (six games).

“It was very good,” the Vegas forward William Carlson He said. “He plays 200 feet and yeah, it was unreal. Just what we needed and that’s why we’re here.”

Eichel played six seasons with the Buffalo Sabers after they made him the #2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft after Connor McDavid He was selected #1 by the Edmonton Oilers. He had 355 points (139 goals, 216 assists) in 375 games with the Sabers.

But after suffering a herniated disc in the 2020-21 season, Eichel wanted artificial disc replacement (ADR) surgery. Al-Saber said they would prefer to do the merger. On September 21, 2021, Eichel was stripped of the captaincy by the Sabers after failing a physical in training camp due to a herniated disc.

Obtained by the Golden Knights of the Sabers Forward Peyton Crips And Alex Toch and two draft picks on November 4, 2021, and had ADR surgery, the first NHL player to do so, eight days later.

After a recovery period of over three months, Eichel made his debut with the Golden Knights in a 2-0 loss against the Avalanche on February 17, 2022. He finished the 2021-22 season with 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 34 games but The Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time.

This season, Eshel led Vegas with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 67 games and continued to produce in the postseason.

“I’m proud of Jack,” the Golden Knights’ defenseman said Zack Whitecloud He said. “Nobody needs an explanation for Jack Eichel. His play, his leadership, his kind of teammate, nothing.”

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

Eichel said after Game 5 that he doubted he had made it to this stage of the playoffs.

“It’s the hardest thing in the world. A lot of people go through their entire careers without ever having a chance to lift a Stanley Cup. I think it’s just human nature to allow a little bit of uncertainty to creep in when you haven’t made the playoffs for a long period of time. You wonder if it’s It will happen one day.”

“Then you come in here and you start feeling the culture and I don’t know. I thought we just believed in ourselves through the whole qualifier. We knew what kind of team we had. It had to go right for you to win it. I mean, we stayed healthy for the most part. We had contributions from everyone. I don’t know, it was a very special race and having it installed like that here at home makes it that much better.”

It was Eichel’s first trophy with a much more private touch with his family, including parents Bob and Anne Eichel, in attendance.

He said: “You suffocate, you see your family.” “They’ve been with you from the start. You almost want to win over them more than you think, you think of each.” [stuff] You have had them and they are by your side every single day. It means a lot.

“I have an amazing support team at home, family, girlfriend, my girlfriend’s family, and my friends. So, I feel really lucky and grateful for that and being able to share this moment with them makes it even more special.”

Eichel has been through the ups and downs of the NHL. He’s been through tough seasons and tough injuries and he’s come out the other side. The Golden Knights gave him the chance he’d been waiting for: to make it to the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup, and he was a big reason they lifted the trophy on Tuesday.

“I’m so happy to be a part of this team and this organization and this city with these fans. I mean, it’s great,” said Eichel. “I feel really blessed and fortunate to be a part of this.”

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