Saturday, June 17, 2023 | 2 a.m.
Sitting at the podium after reaching hockey’s ultimate goal, Jonathan Marchessault was surrounded by the reasons for why the journey has been worth it.
His four kids — William, James, Victoria and Henry John — and the Conn Smythe Trophy. His wife, Alexandra, stood off to the side, smiling wide.
It’s been a strenuous journey for Marchessault. He went from an undrafted, 5-foot-9 winger out of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, playing 124 games over five seasons with three teams, to being left unprotected in the expansion draft by the same team he had just beaten in five games to win the Stanley Cup.
Now, he’s a champion with Vegas. And as one of the original six remaining Golden Knights from the inaugural team in 2018 that made the Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Final, it’s a road Marchessault is proud to have traveled.
“It was a bumpy ride, for sure,” Marchessault said. “A lot of hard work was put in, especially the last few years.”
Marchessault was off to a shaky start in the playoffs, going the first seven games without a goal. But he scored 13 in the final 15 games, tying him with Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers for the postseason lead.
The goals were timely, clutch, and everything the Golden Knights needed from their original Misfit. Marchessault ended the playoffs on a 10-game point streak and had four goals and four assists) against the Florida Panthers.
“Definitely wasn’t happy with my production, but at the end of the day, we won hockey games,” Marchessault said. “You don’t get here by one or two guys. You get here by a whole effort from the organization.”
Not big in stature, Marchessault made his impact in other ways. Whether at practice chirping his teammates or howling after every goal, it’s not difficult to miss Marchessault on the ice.
That charisma and sense of humor was felt with former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, more than any. Marchessault made it a point to let Fleury hear it after every practice drill when the goalie was still with the Golden Knights. Following one practice in 2019, Marchessault and Fleury channeled their inner cage fighter and grappled each other to the ice, met with roars of laughter and applause from fans.
That exemplifies who Marchessault is.
“He cares. He cares a lot,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I’ve seen it more these playoffs about his focus.”
When Marchessault scored his 100th goal with the Golden Knights on Nov. 13, 2021, it was a milestone he carried proudly. He said after the game, a 7-4 win over the Vancouver Canucks, that “VGK is the pride of my career.”
Winning the Stanley Cup in Vegas is the best form of vindication for Marchessault. The Panthers left him unprotected coming off his first 30-goal season. He’s not only kept that production on a yearly basis, but he’s almost bested it every year.
Marchessault signed a six-year, $30 million extension in January 2018. The final year of that extension comes next season.
Right now, Marchessault will enjoy the moment of celebrating with the team — and city — that has believed in him for the last six years on this journey.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride,” Marchessault said. “The fans, the community have been unbelievable. I was so proud to do it in front of our fans, and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.”
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