It's rare for NHL rookies to come in and cause much of a ruckus. Many first-year guys come in, keep their heads down, do what is asked of them, and then gain confidence as they work their way into the league. Vegas Golden Knights forward Will Carrier, a loud personality now, admitted he was quiet his rookie season in Buffalo.
But for Vegas Golden Knights forward Paul Cotter, he's not wasting any time letting his personality shine. The 23-year-old forward, who made the team out of training camp, is now up the lineup on the team's first line with Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.
He's been a great two-way player, using his size to take the body and his skill in places like the shootout.
But what really stands out about Cotter is his behavior, both on and off the ice. He's one of the most laid-back guys on the team and is perhaps the closest thing the team has to a new-age Marc-Andre Fleury-like prankster.
Defensemen Brayden Pachal calls him "a madman," Kaedan Korczak calls him a "little ball of energy," and compares him to being a "mini-Marchy (Jonathan Marchessault)."
Just what exactly has the fedora-wearing, shootout-winning Cotter done this season?
Cotter revealed one of his pranks on a recent one-on-one with Ashali Vise.
“Sorry, Eichs (Jack Eichel), I will admit it, but I did put the boulders in front of your car. I don’t know how you got out. That was a pretty good play by me. He was playing with my skates in the morning, so I figured I should get him back,” said Cotter.
Nobody is safe from Cotter's antics. From Eichel to Pachal, everyone is fair game.
“After practice one day, he kind of had all my street clothes tied up in a massive ball, all my shoes and all my hats with a string, and they were up in the practice rink up in the netting. So that was kind of a crapshoot there,” said defenseman Kaedan Korczak.
The only way to get him back is to do a prank of your own, which then creates a continuous cycle of pranks.
“I stole his car last year in Henderson. I don't remember what he did to get back at me for that. Oh! He took my keys home, so my car was left at the rink. I had a roommate (Jake Leschyshyn) take me home,” said Pachal.
Even just simple things, like creating a hoard of white stick tape in Will Carrier's locker room stall are what Cotter enjoys doing.
“Paul put all of his white tape in my stall, and he blamed Ammo (Michael Amadio), and we were fighting about it until we finally realized that it was Paul who put all the tape in my stall," said Carrier.
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We're only just over halfway through the season, but one player that has avoided Cotter's antics so far has been captain Mark Stone.
“He's kind of one of those characters we enjoy seeing on a daily. He can bring a smile to your face and maybe the next day after a loss. He brings good energy. But I don’t think he has the courage to do any pranks on me,” said Stone, who might have just motivated Cotter to prank him.
A big role model for Cotter's antics has been Phil Kessel. Also new to the team, Kessel has spent some time on the same line as Cotter multiple times this season.
"He's hilarious and keeps it light. If I get hard on myself throughout the game, he is always a reminder to just play and that you are doing what you love,” said Cotter on Kessel.
It's not all fun and games for Cotter, though, who has stated that he has been hard on himself in the past. The 2018 fourth-round pick of the Golden Knights had to claw his way into the lineup and was a healthy scratch earlier on in the season.
“I think in the past, I was pretty hard on myself. I still am, but I think I have done better this year by just kind of relaxing and playing my game. There's no level after this, and I have kind of made it. Now it's kind of time to have fun with it and put the pedal to the metal,” said Cotter.
But even head coach Bruce Cassidy is noticing his personality, and how it can make the team closer and a better-knit group.
“Your bench needs certain personalities. It’s a long year, so it is good to see that come out from different players. I don’t what it to get him away from his game, that is the risk all the time, but I have not seen where it has affected him going out there and being undisciplined," said Cassidy.