As the captain of the Vegas Golden Knights, Mark Stone had the honor of skating towards Commissioner Gary Bettman, who presented him with the illustrious Stanley Cup.
With great triumph, Stone hoisted the weighty 34 1/2-pound trophy above his head, a remarkable achievement for the seasoned winger who recently underwent two back surgeries within a span of nine months.
“The look in my teammates’ eyes when I received it is one of the most surreal feelings I’ve ever experienced,” Stone expressed. “Knowing that I accomplished this feat with my 25 or 30 closest friends makes it all the more special.”
Stone’s exceptional performance in the series-ending Game 5 victory over the Florida Panthers included a memorable hat trick, tallying nine points in the Cup Final.
“He is an outstanding leader; his passion on the ice is undeniable,” praised general manager Kelly McCrimmon. “The more you observe him, the more you appreciate his impact… He elevates the players around him.”
Since being appointed as the franchise’s first captain in 2021, Stone has been a guiding force for the Golden Knights. Following their inaugural season’s trip to the Cup final in 2018, which ended in a defeat on home ice against the Washington Capitals, Stone became a pivotal acquisition for the team.
This time, Stone ensured the final concluded swiftly in five games, delivering the first hat trick in a Cup-clinching victory since Babe Dye achieved the feat in 1922.
“His exceptional performance comes as no surprise,” shared linemate and golf partner Chandler Stephenson. “He leads by example, and tonight was a testament to that.”
Stephenson revealed that Stone’s back injury had prevented him from playing golf lately. The injury resurfaced in January, and while the team initially believed Stone would recover and return, a setback led to surgery, raising doubts about his future in the sport.
Stone missed the remainder of the regular season but made a triumphant return in Game 1 of the first round.
“There were concerns about whether his career would be in jeopardy,” acknowledged McCrimmon. “His dedication and hard work deserve immense recognition.”
Stone exhibited outstanding playoff performance, maintaining a point-per-game average. However, his impact extends beyond scoring, as he is arguably the finest defensive winger in hockey, contributing significantly to Vegas’ intensity and physicality.
“If you stand next to him, you’ll understand why he possesses such power, so I believe he doesn’t receive enough credit for his defensive abilities,” remarked teammate Alex Pietrangelo. “He performs numerous tasks without the puck that often go unnoticed.”
In the playoffs, Stone’s contributions were impossible to ignore, and his triumphant moment of lifting the Cup will forever be immortalized in photos and videos.
“I cannot adequately describe the emotions stirring in my stomach right now,” Stone expressed. “It encompasses everything you can imagine. The grind of an 82-game season, enduring four playoff rounds, the constant perseverance, and in the end, emerging as the last team standing. It’s truly incredible.”