Google Nate Schmidt and the first six images that come up are him smiling like a kid who just raided his local candy shop and is running away down the street with pockets full of Sixlets. How did a mediocre defenseman become the shining star of the NHL’s newest franchise? It’s simple really, his personality and grin (and more playing time of course.)
Let’s focus on the playing time first–
In his last two seasons with the Capitals Nate had 33 points in 132 games. Simple math tells me that 1 point every four games. So has he turned it around stat-wise in Vegas? Has he turned into a West-Coastvechkin (trademark pending) well, maybe-ish? According to NHL.com he has 30 points in sixty-three games so far averaging out to one point every two games. Getting better Nate.
Now the personality. Firstly, hats off to the Golden Knights hiring a social media person or persons with the wit of Dave Berry. Since the team’s inception the Golden Knights have been leading the ice time on Comedy and funny videos. A few of the video starting none other than Washington’s expansion loss. In fact, a recent search of today’s Twitter videos shows players smiling, joking, and goofing off on the camera like it’s a party. And why shouldn’t it be? They’re not playing in Newark.
Secondly, expansion teams usually take a few years to get the puck rollin’ and Vegas has surprised everyone this year. Through multiple injuries in net minders and players, they have an astounding record at 42-18. Who saw that coming? How could an expansion team bring enemies on the ice, and make them into bros on and off the ice?
Now the smile. Back to the Google search, if his smile doesn’t make you want to smile, you might want to brace your eyes for crawling out of your hole and seeing sunlight for the first time in a long time. It’s contagious. From signs welcoming him back to DC when Vegas was here in December, to Caps fan venturing out to Vegas with signs saying they miss him, what gave him such an embrace in DC? Was it the Capitals fan base fearing another dare a say it ‘Forsberg incident’? No, it was purely his personality, smile, and willingness to do what he could while he was here. And what has the Las Vegas Knights capitalized on? Let me repeat myself, his personality, smile, and willingness to do what he can. Nate appears to be one of the players who realize that he’s lucky. For a professional sport with the smallest number of athletes it truly takes an elite athlete to get to the National level.
On top of that, it takes someone with a cool head and personality to excel. Sure you can be an average player but if you have the personality of a sea slug (read: Semin) the press notices, the fans notice, the team staff notice. Fortunately for Nate, his personality seems like a puppy. Anywhere there’s an activity he’s there, smiling, laughing, and ready to lace up his skates. It’s too bad it’s not for Washington anymore. Ps. DC still misses you Nate.
Friends in Cold Places staff traveled to Vegas to see the Golden Knights, and report that Nate is looking as happy as ever. Brittney Marcum has the photos to prove!