Mark Stone was the perfect and only choice as Vegas Golden Knights Captain.
It was announced on Wednesday – the Opening Day of the 2020-21 NHL Season – that Mark Stone had been named the first Captain in franchise history for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Although expected given the impact he has had on this franchise in an incredibly short amount of time, the decision to hand the coveted “C” to Stone still drew a lot of praise and that’s no surprise given how highly-thought of and respected the forward is within NHL circles.
And it should say a lot about Stone that the Golden Knights waited three years before making a decision on its first-ever Captain, coupled with the fact that the honor didn’t go to an original member of the “Golden Misfits” such as Reilly Smith, who was named as an Assistant Captain for the 2020-21 season alongside new addition Alex Pietrangelo.
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But, there is no doubt that Stone was the obvious choice to become the official leader of this expansion team that has rewritten the blueprint when it comes to building a successful NHL organization from the ground up and becoming an instant winner from Day One.
For starters, Stone ticks a lot of leadership boxes in that he leads by example with his high-level play on the ice, he’s vocal on and off the ice and he’s also easily the best player on this Golden Knights roster, an elite two-way forward who probably deserves more credit than he gets.
Earning every cent of his $9.5 million AAV, Stone is a Selke Trophy contender year in and year out and, to be honest, it is kind of amazing that he hasn’t won one yet. I mean, he had a league-leading 122 Takeaways in 2018-19 while he recorded 51 blocked shots, 56 hits and 78 Takeaways in 2019-20.
While he is the best-paid player on the Golden Knights roster, and he’s more than worth it, Stone is always willing to get in front of a shot in order to protect his goalie, he’s always hustling in his own end to help out his defense and he’ll also put the body on and pressure on the forecheck like his very life depends on it.
That level of commitment to the game will speak volumes to his teammates, and all the noise coming out of Vegas on Wednesday was that Stone’s announcement as Captain went down incredibly well in the locker room. And it should have done. He is a very visible mascot for his teammates and there’s a reason why Stone’s very real and very relatable reactions on the bench go viral on Hockey Twitter.
And, according to Jesse Granger of The Athletic, he has opened his home to Peyton Krebs, the Golden Knights’ 17th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, another hallmark of a natural leader.
It is also clear that Stone lives and breathes the game of hockey and you also want that kind of passion for the game from your Captain because you know he’s going to dedicate himself to his craft, turn up every day prepared to work harder the day before and sacrifice everything in order to help the team achieve their ultimate goal, which is the Stanley Cup.
That kind of example is the one you want to be setting to your young players in the locker room and, as Stone has done with Krebs, he will now be expected to take more prospects under his wing and ensure that they are putting the work in and doing everything within their power to ensure they succeed in the National Hockey League.
Also one of the best offensive threats in the league, as backed up by his 74 points (26 G, 48 A) in 83 career regular-season games for Vegas, Stone just plays the game of hockey the right way and the fact that he’s under contract through the 2026-27 season made even more sense to give the “C” to a cornerstone piece of your franchise who you hope will lead this team to multiple Stanley Cups.
Overall, Mark Stone just embodies what it means to be a leader and a Captain, and that’s why he was the perfect choice for the Vegas Golden Knights who made history with this decision.