Before the start of this season, the Vegas Golden Knights named Mark Stone the first captain in team history. A leader on and off the ice, the VGK could not have made a better choice. Stone can be an emotional firestarter, celebrating a big goal with exuberance. Or he can be a calming influence, steadying his team when the going gets tough.
And he definitely wears that C as if it were Superman’s S stamped on his chest. He takes it personally.
The very first question he faced following Game 6 was simple enough. What are his feelings about losing for a second straight year in the Stanley Cup Semifinal?
“It’s a pretty terrible feeling.”
That was his entire response.
Stone spent the rest of his time at the media table shouldering more than his fair share of the blame for what happened.
“I can praise them (Montreal) all I want, but ultimately it falls down on (me) and the top players on this team,” Stone said. “We had some guys who produced night in and night out, but as far as (sic) myself and other guys… I got skunked this series. That can’t happen. I’m the captain of this team, the leader of this team and I take a lot of responsibility.”
For the record, Stone finished the series with no points and a minus-3 rating. He was one of several big names that failed to make an impact for the Golden Knights in the series.
When asked point-blank if he had been playing hurt, Stone only replied “no”.
“We’ve had a lot of different heartbreaks. I’m excited to learn from our mistakes and try and build this team into a Stanley Cup winner, not just a contender.”
Certainly, anyone would tell you that the fault isn’t just on Stone and that there’s plenty of responsibility to go around.
“I’m not surprised he’s taking that on himself,” said Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer. “That’s not a load he needs to carry, definitely not alone. I think everybody’s gotta look in the mirror, coaches included.”
It will be a shorter off-season than usual as the NHL looks to get back to normal next season and welcome the expansion Seattle Kraken. But for Mark Stone and the Vegas Golden Knights, it’s going to feel like a very long time until that next puck drop.