Tuesday, June 12, 2018 | 2 a.m.
The Golden Knights’ deep playoff run has one notable downfall — a shorter offseason.
The team won’t announce training camp dates for awhile, but assuming they start around mid-September like last season, the players will have only 99 days to rest their bodies. For comparison, teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs have an extra two months.
“It’s definitely going to be shorter,” Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault said. “We need to rest first. It’s really important mentally and getting your body right. It’s a long year so we need to be ready for next season.”
The Golden Knights’ season nearly lasted to the start of free agency, which begins July 1. The entry draft is even nearer on June 22.
“We went so deep that there is a lot of stuff that’s going to happen real quick,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “The draft comes up, development camp comes up and free agency. The season isn’t over yet. The hockey is done but a lot of stuff goes on.”
While General Manager George McPhee and his staff are busy preparing for the draft and free agency, the players will get some well-deserved relaxation.
“You have to take care of your body in the summer, and be in good shape because it’s a long season, but there are a lot of ups and downs,” Marchessault said. “We came out at the end so everyone needs to work on their conditioning and be ready.”
Some players need the more rest than others. The Golden Knights’ top line of Marchessault, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson each topped 1,500 minutes of the ice time, led by Karlsson with 1,968 minutes. His previous high was just 1,172 minutes.
Other players dealt with injuries during the playoff run. William Carrier was constantly in and out of the lineup in the postseason with nagging injuries and will now get a chance to let them fully heal or get surgery if needed.
“You don’t want to put too much stress on your body in the summer, so you can put a lot on it in the winter,” Carrier said. “I won’t change a single thing about the way that I play. I’m going to bring the same energy, so that won’t change for next year.”
If any player on the Golden Knights knows how to manage the shorter offseason, it’s goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. This was Fleury’s fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Final, and 12th postseason run in his 14-year career.
“I think it’s important to take some time off and let your body rest and heal,” Fleury said. “Spend some time with your family and friends, and then get back to working out again. That’s what we do, so you have to get in shape for training camp, and I’m sure everybody will be ready.”
It’s the first time Fleury is coming off a loss in the Stanley Cup Final since 2008, when he was a spry 23-year-old. He’s learned a lot since then and will use that knowledge to help both he and his teammates during this offseason.
“At that time I was really thinking, ‘We went to the final so we’re going to go again and again,’” he said. “Over the years you quickly realize how hard it is. It’s not a given that because you make it that far you’re going to make it again next year. The parity around the league is even better than it was.”