Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau
Published Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 | 10:52 a.m.
Updated Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 | 4:01 p.m.
One of the original Golden Knights, the unofficial captain of the team’s miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final and a Las Vegas local has called it a career.
Deryk Engelland announced his retirement from the NHL today.
Engelland broke into professional hockey with the minor league Las Vegas Wranglers in 2003-2004.
“When it all started 17 years ago with the Wranglers, never in my wildest dreams would I have thought it was going to end here in Vegas in the NHL,” he said. “We’re very grateful to just start it and end it here.”
Engelland will remain with the Golden Knights as a special assistant to the owner and work with the Golden Knights Foundation on community outreach efforts.
During his 11-year NHL career, Engelland, 38, also played with the Penguins and Flames. He appeared in 671 games, had 30 goals and 127 points.
In 2018, Vegas’ inaugural season, he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for his role in leading the Golden Knights to a Western Conference championship. He was selected in the expansion draft by the Golden Knight, and played the final three years of his career in Las Vegas. He began with the Wranglers of the ECHL and made his offseason home in the valley long before the Golden Knights became a team.
He met his wife, Melissa, after a Wranglers game, and his two sons, Cash and Talon, were born here.
“Deryk Engelland epitomizes what it means to be a Golden Knight,” owner Bill Foley said in a statement. “A no-ego, selfless, hardworking player who has an unwavering commitment to protecting those who are unable to protect themselves.”
He will always be remembered in Las Vegas for his emotional speech ahead of Vegas’ first home game in the inaugural season.
It came nine days after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Strip. The Golden Knights scrapped their celebratory plans for a more somber night of remembrance.
Before the puck dropped, Engelland skated to center ice and forever etched his name into Las Vegas sports lore.
“Like all of you, I’m proud to call Las Vegas home,” he said. “I met my wife here. Our kids were born here. I know how special this city is. To all the brave first responders that have worked tirelessly and courageously through this whole tragedy, we thank you. To the families and friends of the victims, we’ll do everything we can to help you and our city heal…We are Vegas strong.”
Engelland went on to score a goal that night in what he called one of the most memorable moments of his career.
His work in Las Vegas extended beyond the ice, as he created the Engelland’s Vegas Born Heroes Foundation in 2018 helping local "heroes" who go above and beyond to benefit community. These could be police officers or hospital workers, and brings them to Golden Knights games and meets with them afterward.
Engelland remained a key member of the team, even after his time on the ice started to dwindle. From Feb. 1 onward, Engelland appeared in just one game and not at all in the playoffs as the team went with younger players.
General manager Kelly McCrimmon came to Engelland ahead of the trade deadline and offered to move him somewhere he could play more.
Engelland refused, wanting to see the season to the end.
Younger players such as Zach Whitecloud and Peyton Krebs have gone out of their way to mention how much his tutelage has meant to them as their careers have started to take off.
“They didn’t have to do that. They could have just traded me,” Engelland said. “They gave that choice to me, and it’s greatly appreciated. I wouldn’t have wanted to go finish somewhere else.”
The Golden Knights released a seven-minute video with tributes from 12 people, including former Pittsburgh teammate Sidney Crosby, former coach Glen Gulutzan, longtime agent Allain Roy and numerous teammates.
In that list of teammates were six current or former Golden Knights, including Marc-Andre Fleury, who played alongside him in both Las Vegas and Pittsburgh. Krebs thanked him for “the wisdom you gave me,” Nate Schmidt joked about how hard it must have been to sit next to him for three years in the locker room.
Ryan Reaves, whom Engelland fought three times in his career, tied for the most against any opponent, expressed his admiration.
“I remember, before I even met you, before I knew anything about you except for that you were tough, I knew you were one of the good ones,” Reaves said. “Go out there, have a good fight, I’d beat you up, of course, we get to the box, nice little chat like we were good buddies.”
Engelland said there wasn’t a single a moment he knew he was done. When the season paused in March, he said he appreciated the time with his family and started thinking about it. When free agency came and Vegas made it clear it was moving on, he thought about it again, feeling that he could still play.
But he couldn’t bring himself to leave the Golden Knights. His first appearance as a Golden Knights player was walking out on stage at the expansion draft. His last was over Zoom on Tuesday, where was fittingly wearing a Golden Misfits shirt.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to if I wanted to go put another jersey on or retire as a Knight,” Engelland said. “As that all unfolded, I think it became an easy decision for me and my family.”