Nate Schmidt spent the previous four seasons playing for the Washington Capitals Danny Trevathan Jersey , and he personally experienced the heartbreak of their recent playoff disappointments. The defenseman understands why many people thought this talented, experienced team might never win a championship.
Schmidt and his many good friends with the Caps are finally in the Stanley Cup Final this week. Only they’re on opposite benches after the Vegas Golden Knights grabbed Schmidt in the expansion draft and wouldn’t give him back.
Schmidt was Washington’s sixth defenseman last season, but he now leads the Golden Knights in ice time. The improbable matchup in Monday night’s series opener puts a bewildered grin on Schmidt’s face.
”Yeah, I don’t think you could have written this up any better for me,” he said Sunday.
Both of his franchises are in the midst of banner years, and Schmidt won’t argue with the idea that he deserves a small part of the credit.
Or maybe the blame.
”I really enjoyed my time in Washington,” Schmidt said. ”I thought that team was special, and we still had a good chance to go and do something, and here they are, proving it.”
Schmidt stops himself as another grin invades his serious interview session.
”I must have been the reason why!” he said. ”I must have been the problem.”
Not likely. Schmidt’s irrepressible personality and two-way acumen have made him one of the Golden Knights’ most valuable players during their improbable inaugural season.
He surpassed his previous career highs with five goals and 31 assists while doing steady work on the back end. Given extensive responsibilities in Vegas after playing a smaller role in Washington, Schmidt has taken a major step forward.
”The perception of your game could be remodeled and redone, and I think that’s the coolest part of what we’ve been able to do here in Vegas,” Schmidt said. ”You have guys that have been able to revamp their image or revamp their style, and for other guys to grow into the players that people may not have thought they could be.”
Schmidt might have had this success in Washington if he had stuck around. He had begun to assert himself in a pairing with John Carlson, the Caps’ No. 1 defenseman.
”We were playing together last season http://www.chicagobearsteamonline.com/khalil-mack-jersey , and that’s probably how it would have started out again this season,” said Carlson, who led all NHL blueliners this season with 68 points. ”So there’s a little disappointment from that, but obviously he’s done really well for himself. That’s no surprise. I wish him all the best, but not for these next two weeks.”
Schmidt has been particularly effective in the playoffs. Partnered with former Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb in the Knights’ top pairing, Schmidt has provided energy, timely scoring and strong back-end play while Vegas roared past Los Angeles, San Jose and Winnipeg with just three losses.
Schmidt knows more about the Caps than his teammates, so he realizes the enormity of their task. He’ll lead the Golden Knights’ efforts to minimize Alex Ovechkin’s time and space with the puck.
”He’s a beast,” Schmidt said. ”I played against him in practice for a long time, so hopefully I know a few tendencies of his. But in reality, he’s a player that can shoot the puck from anywhere.”
Schmidt’s unusual perspective on this series is matched only by Vegas general manager George McPhee. Before the Caps fired him in 2014, McPhee acquired many of the players on Washington’s roster – including Schmidt, an undrafted free agent out of the University of Minnesota, in 2013.
McPhee acquired him again last summer for Vegas Akiem Hicks Jersey , but Washington general manager Brian MacLellan tried hard to keep him with a post-draft trade. If anybody could have made a deal, it’s these two men, who have known each other for 44 years since their bantam playing days in Guelph, Ontario, followed by college careers at Bowling Green and several years together in Washington’s front office.
Not even a childhood friendship could keep Schmidt away from his new destiny in Vegas.
”We made our selection, and then he called and asked if there’s any way we could do a deal for him to get Schmidt back,” McPhee recalled. ”And I said, `I don’t see anything, but we’ll try to come up with something to give you a chance to say no.’ We made a proposal that I didn’t think would work, and it didn’t work. Our guys liked Schmidt.”
More Stanley Cup coverage: Mark Gastineau made an emotional plea to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to help him and former players who are dealing with what he claims are football-related health issues.
The former New York Jets star said during a radio interview on 710 WOR Radio in New York that aired Thursday night that he wants ailing players to be taken care of by the NFL. The 61-year-old Gastineau announced last year that he was diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, and believes the conditions are the result of brain trauma from playing in the NFL for 10 seasons.
”I want the NFL to treat people right,” Gastineau said during the interview. ”They’ve got to. They have to.”
Gastineau said Goodell told him when they talked at a Jets game over a year ago that he should let him know if he needs anything.
”The Commissioner told me, he said, `Listen Jamaal Williams Jersey , Mark, you know what? You need anything, let me know,”’ Gastineau told host Pete McCarthy. ”He was my ball boy. I treated him great. He told me. … Hey, Roger Goodell, treat people right.”
An NFL spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment on Gastineau’s statements.
Gastineau is the Jets’ career sacks leader and was one of the NFL’s most recognizable stars because of his entertaining dances after taking down quarterbacks for New York from 1979-88. He and Goodell have known each other since the early 1980s, when Goodell interned in the Jets’ public relations department.
”I want to hold you to your promise, Roger Goodell,” Gastineau said. ”You said, `Anything I need! I want the players to be treated right.”
Gastineau, who was joined by his wife JoAnn and lawyer Jason Luckasevic, began to cry during the interview when he spoke of his daily struggles to get out of bed and remember people’s names.
”My brain isn’t the same,” he said. ”My wife, she and I used to go around and do yard work,” Gastineau said while crying. ”But you know what? She does everything now for me. … It’s not good Adolphus Washington Jersey , it’s not good.
”When I’m laying in bed until 3, 4 or 5 (p.m.), it’s not good. There will be days I get up and I’m good. … My wife will tell you, she helps me get out of bed … and she’ll help me remember names. I used to think I was all that, I did. But you know what? I was nothing. You know why? Because of what happened to me.”
Gastineau, who said he routinely cracked his and other players’ helmets during big hits in practices and games, dabbled in boxing after retiring from football and had 17 professional fights. He is a plaintiff in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL, but has not received any money as a result. JoAnn Gastineau said NFL doctors questioned her husband’s dementia diagnosis, but approved it in October after eight months. She said the NFL sent a notice to Luckasevic 30 days later saying it was appealing the settlement again for Gastineau’s Parkinson’s diagnosis.
”The NFL is wrong,” Gastineau said. ”The NFL is wrong, they’re wrong. I’m not telling them to give me zillions of dollars. I don’t want zillions of dollars. I just want to be treated with respect.”
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