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Who are Two Unsung Heroes of the Golden Knights Stanley Cup Run?



Vegas Golden Knights

Jack Eichel and Alex Pietrangelo did their duties as “the ones.” Ivan Barbashev was the missing link to the Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault line. Adin Hill made a series of unsavable saves and became a hero in Vegas.

The superstars did their jobs to bring the franchise’s first Stanley Cup to Vegas. Coach Bruce Cassidy did a remarkable job behind the bench in his first season with Vegas Golden Knights and general manager Kelly McCrimmon gave Cassidy the tools he needed to succeed.

Who were the unsung heroes and what were their roles in helping Vegas win the Stanley Cup?

Director of goaltending and NHL goaltending coach Sean Burke: Burke had the impossible task of managing five starting goaltenders during the 2022-23 season. Logan Thompson and Adin Hill started the season somewhat alternating games. Injuries to Thompson and Hill opened the door for Laurent Brossoit to get a couple of stretches of starts. Jonathan Quick was acquired for insurance and logged 10 appearances down the stretch. Jiri Patera made 2 starts as well.

Miraculously, the Golden Knights won the Pacific Division and had the best record in the Western Conference while using five different starting goaltenders.

Most think Burke’s only responsibility is getting the Golden Knights goaltenders ready for action. Of course, that is his primary responsibility.

Burke’s secondary responsibility is scouting the opposition’s goaltenders. Prior to the Stanley Cup Final, Burke gave the Golden Knights players and coaches a presentation on Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Cassidy broke down a Shea Theodore goal and how Burke’s presentation may have led to the goal in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Golden Knights had to get through a gauntlet of starting goaltenders. Connor Hellebuyck, Jake Oettinger, and Bobrovsky are among the top 10 goaltenders in the NHL. Burke helped the Golden Knights score at will on all three of those goaltenders.

Phil KesselThis unsung hero will need some explanation, but the explanation will be pretty short. If there was an award for the best “locker room guy,” Kessel would win unanimously if the vote was composed of Golden Knights players. Marchessault and Eichel just spent large portions of recent appearances talking up Kessel and how big of an influence he was on the team.

Kessel didn’t have that bad of a season considering he’s 35 with nearly 1,400 NHL games played. 14 goals, 22 assists, and 36 points were fair for a third-line winger. Appearing in just four playoff games, Kessel logged two assists.

But this isn’t about the stats, it’s about the human. Kessel was a great signing in the offseason by McCrimmon. Do the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup last season if they had not signed Kessel? An argument can be made.

The stars aligned perfectly for the Golden Knights to become Stanley Cup Champions. That includes Kessel’s star.

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