From Unmade to Conn Smythe: Jonathan Marchesault’s bumpy ride to hockey’s pinnacle complete

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LAS VEGAS – Jonathan Marchesault isn’t playing second, third, fourth, or fifth fiddle right now.

As some of his best friends have done in recent years, the Golden Knights winger on Tuesday night became Stanley Cup champions. Only he can add a Conn Smythe Trophy to his astounding feat after the undersized, undrafted and underrated veteran captured so many big moments in the postseason and ultimately helped do so in a Panthers franchise that left him exposed in the 2008 expansion draft. 2017.

In 2018, when Vegas lost to Washington during their inaugural season in the Stanley Cup Final, Marchesault watched Alex Chiasson accept the trophy. In 2019, when St. Louis won the trophy, former Golden Knights teammate David Perron held it high above his head. In 2020, Yanni Gourd started two consecutive Cup-winning years with Tampa Bay, with Marchessault’s former Midget teammate David Savard joining the Lightning party in 2021.

“All of these guys, outside of my house, are some of Marchie’s childhood best friends from Quebec City,” Perron said. the athlete this week. “They grew up together and trained together. Marchy had to see us win, lift it up, and bring it to our city. And he will always be proud of us.”

“But you could say — and if it were me, you’d dig for me. Like when I got traded away from Pittsburgh and had to watch all my buddies win two years in a row, I was happy for them, but not having the chance to be a part of that was hard watching from afar.” “So I can’t imagine three, four, five years in a row of Marchy watching his best friend win. Now he can break it. I’m so happy for him. He deserves it.”

When Commissioner Gary Bateman announces that Marchesault has been named the winner of Conn Smith, he hugs co-worker Jack Eichel and tells him that he was the reason he won it. Eichel led the playoffs in scoring with 26 points, one ahead of Marchessault.

“First playoff game, first win for him. That’s a very good average,” Marchesault said. “Since he came here, we’re a different team. Game changer.”

In the end, the original Golden Knight gets to share the championship and personal items with his “catalyst”—his wife, Alexandra, and four proud, well-mannered children, James, Victoria, Henry, and William, who join him on the podium. In a press conference after the match.

“Yeah, it’s been a bumpy ride for sure,” Marcisault, 32, said of his way to get here. “A lot of hard work has definitely been put in especially over the last few years to achieve my goal. My wife has been incredible, to be honest. You don’t hear enough about how big they are in a professional athlete’s career. Lots of bumps and bruises along the way. It feels great now to see where it got me My trip “.

Perron, 35, now with the Red Wings, played at a charity golf event the Tuesday before the LPGA Championship in Grand Rapids, Mich.

On Tuesday night, while driving more than two hours to Detroit, he put his phone securely on a stand so he could catch a glimpse of a Golden Knights-Panthers game. He wanted to root for the Marchessault but also fellow “Golden Misfits” William Carlson, Reilly Smith, Brayden McNabb, Shea Theodore and William Carrier, as well as former Blues teammates Alex Pietrangelo and Ivan Barbashev.

But when the Stanley Cup was presented after the 9-3 rout, when his friend, Marchesault, was awarded the Conn Smith Trophy, Peron pulled away to watch.

“I have to see their feelings, especially Marchi,” Perron said.

Such was the case for Gordes and Savard, who were watching their home in Quebec. Marchessault and his family attended every Stanley Cup ceremony in 2021.

“Just to see him lift it, touch it, be at his party, there’s no better feeling,” said Savard, who now plays for Montreal. “He’s always been a player. He’s obviously not big or anything, but he’s the kind of guy who’s going to make big plays in the big moments. And I think it comes back to when I played him at Midget, he’s that kid you want on the ice a minute ago.” The one on the left and you need to tie the game.

“The puck will bounce back to him, he’ll put him down, and he’s got that knack for being in the right place at the right time.”

“I’m excited for him,” added Gord, who now plays for Seattle. “His best friends would go on to win Stanley Cups, so I’m sure he was very hungry to accomplish that trophy. And he worked incredibly hard to be there in that situation and perform the way he does. He plays with an extra chip on his shoulder. Small size, never drafted.” He was not protected by Florida. His journey is absolutely amazing.”

Marchesault called his fellow cup champions “winners”.

“Something you can’t take away from these guys,” he said. “And now, all of us, the Golden Knights, are all winners. This is the best feeling in the world.”

Marcisault, who went the first seven games of the playoffs without a goal, scored 13 goals in his last 15 games and finished the playoffs on a 10-game winning streak. In what he called a “great gesture,” Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy started the 2017-2018 Vegas first line from Smith Carlson Marchesault with Theodore and Martinez.

Conn Smith Winner season The first season

Wayne Gretzky, Oilers



Wayne Gretzky, Oilers



Bernie’s Parent, Flyers



Bernie’s Parent, Flyers



Evan Cournoyer, Canadiens



Bobby Orr, Bruins



Bobby Orr, Bruins



Serge Savard Canadians



Glenn Hall, Blues



Dave Keon, Maple Leafs



Roger Crozier, Red Wings



Jean Beliveau, Canadians



Technically, Marchesault is the first undrafted player to win the Conn Smith Trophy since Wayne Gretzky in 1988. He is the 10th undrafted player to win the award, including six players they deducted after the first NHL amateur draft in 1963.

The fact is, Marchessault is the first true undrafted player ever to win the award. Gretzky was not drafted into the NHL because he signed as a teenager to the WHA and was one of two players the Edmonton Oilers were able to protect when the leagues merged. All others hail from an era when NHL teams had protected rosters and were affiliated with junior teams across Canada. Most highly regarded young players were signed to “C” forms—as early as age 14, if the player had parental consent—and then were essentially the property of those NHL clubs for the duration of their careers.

Marchesault came in a different era. Unlike Bobby Orrs and Jean Beliveaus, Marchessault was simply ignored.

Despite his unconventional journey here, Marchessault has played in all 88 of Vegas’ playoff games since their inaugural 2018 postseason. He is the franchise’s all-time leader with 34 goals, 71 points, 26 equal power play goals, 54 equal power play points, 300 steals and eight power play goals.

Jonathan Marchesault with the Conn Smith Trophy. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When asked why he always comes up with the big moments, all of his friends had similar thoughts.

“He’s very calm,” Gordon said. “He doesn’t think about anything. He resets all the time quite easily. He’s just built differently. When those situations come up, he’s ready to face them. It doesn’t really bother him what happened the day before. He’s focused on what he can do in the moment, and I think That this is how he resets, he doesn’t let the past game affect him. I think it’s one of his biggest tools. He’s always looking forward to the next opportunity.”

“Pace, intelligence and skill,” said Savard. “Even as a young player, he was fast and like I said, he’s a player. In Florida, Jonathan Huberdeau got injured, he had a hell of a season and kind of put his name on the map, and since that day he’s never looked back. So I think he just needed those One hit, he took it and now he’s been one of the best guys in Vegas for years. I’m not surprised. The guy is competitive.”

“He had to overcome a lot of things,” Perron said. “If you look at his career path to get to the NHL, play as a 20-year-old and a big kid, who normally these guys don’t end up having the career that he’s got — disbelieving, a smaller guy, kind of had a St. Martin vibe. Lewis. He doesn’t get upset over the big moments. If anything, he stays very calm and prepared under pressure in those moments.”

In his inaugural season in Vegas, Peron scored 66 points in 70 games—most of them on a streak with James Neal and Eric Haula—and nine more in 15 playoff games. He sat in the corner of the dressing room next to Marchesault and Carrier. It was called the French Quarter, and it was a riot. They cut each other and everyone was playing fair.

To this day, Peron and Marquessault talk between tours. Their families go on vacation together. And every summer, the Perrons visit the Marchessaults at their home in Quebec City and play non-stop hockey at the small rink in the Marchessaults’ backyard.

“Even our kids are very good friends for how often they see each other,” Perron said. “He’s so cool. I’m just so proud of the guy. I get inspired watching him from afar.”

“You see his fire, his outbursts. I always wanted his energy. He always finds a way to be in the middle of it. Just from knowing him, I can tell, too, when he feels like maybe he’s not giving his best. He can get bitchy. He gets in there.” A little more than that.

Now, Perron, like Jourdes and Savard, can’t wait to go to Marchesault’s Cup-winning party this summer.

“I said that to my friends, ‘I want Marchesault to win it, for sure, because then I realize I’m going to the cup party,’” Perron said. “I just want to see him take a picture of me and him with the cup. Same with his all-win buddies. Chiasun, Gourde, Savard – we need a picture of all four of them together. Marchy was always the winner. Now (he’s) officially a winner with his childhood best friend…and me.”

(Top photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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