The Stanley Cup Schmidtuation: For Me, Facing Nate Schmidt in the Stanley Cup Finals is a Two-Way Street

10076959_web1_knights-capitals-hockey-9Alex Brandon/Associated Press

The Capitals’ victory in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final brought so many emotions to me, from relief that after so many shortcomings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team had finally made it to the Stanley Cup Final, to absolute excitement and joy. But when the Capitals take on the Vegas Golden Knights and former defenseman Nate Schmidt, it will be more than just a former player playing the team for me.

Schmidt’s departure from the team last year was a difficult one for me personally, as he is my favorite player and watching the Golden Knights select him in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft hurt, as it does whenever a favorite player leaves a team. A meeting with Schmidt in a Hershey, Pennsylvania hotel in 2015 immediately vaulted him to his status as my favorite player (an encounter I recounted in this farewell piece written last year). Even after a full season in Vegas, it is still odd for me to see him in another team’s sweater, especially knowing he was to play an important role for the Caps had he stayed with the team.

While he may not have been able to play that role in D.C., he certainly has done so for Vegas, recording career-highs in goals (five), assists (31), and points (36), while averaging a career-high 22:14 of ice time a night as the Golden Knight’s top defenseman. I have always believed he could play a similar role to former teammate Dmitry Orlov, and he proved that this season in Vegas. In the two regular season contests between the Caps and Golden Knights, Schmidt recorded one assist, a plus-1 rating, and averaged 22:42 of ice time over the two games.

While rooting against him will be hard, a Stanley Cup win for the Capitals is all that matters. The Capitals are and will always be my team and while I wish Nate nothing but success in his career, my hunger for a Stanley Cup parade in Washington is far more important. And should the Cup end up going to the Golden Knights, I will be happy for Schmidt. But starting Monday night, I will be cheering in ALLCAPS!

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first and only Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography and reading in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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3 Responses to The Stanley Cup Schmidtuation: For Me, Facing Nate Schmidt in the Stanley Cup Finals is a Two-Way Street

  1. S Biggs says:

    Love Schmidt! Remember the “schminute”? He was so great for Vegas after the shooting and I am glad for him that he finally is getting the recognition he deserves but I am so afraid he is going to score the overtime series winning goal…between the rematch with MAF and the match up with Schmidt I am just a little scared!

    Like

  2. Pingback: From Beer Pong to the Stanley Cup Finals: George McPhee and Brian MacLellan Go Head-to-Head | NoVa Caps

  3. Pingback: Nate Schmidt Talks on Media Day Ahead of Stanley Cup Finals: “Who Could’ve Scripted This?” | NoVa Caps

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