By Chris Gordon
LAS VEGAS — At the tail end of the 2017 Awards and Expansion Draft, after the names of 29 players were already called, George McPhee uttered these miserable words: “The Vegas Golden Knights select Nate Schmidt. Defenseman.”
The news had already been leaked earlier in the evening, but McPhee’s words were the final twist of the knife.
And it appeared Capitals fans weren’t the only ones who took the announcement hard.
Capitals starting goaltender Braden Holtby, who had earlier been awarded the Jennings Trophy and announced as the runner up in Vezina voting, looked on with a pained look on his face.
Despite slotting the possession-dominant Schmidt in the team’s top four next season, Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan expressed little concern about losing the Minnesota native in a release to the press.
“We want to thank Nate for his contributions to our organization the past four seasons and wish him all the best in Vegas,” MacLellan said. “We feel we have a young group of up-and-coming defensemen who will now have an opportunity in Washington and are ready to make the jump with our club.”
All evening long on social media, Schmidt received tributes from journalists and fans on social media.
Was a great privilege covering Nate Schmidt. One of the nicest people I’ve come across. Always willing to talk win or lose. Good luck, Nate.
— Chris Gordon (@Chris_Gordon) June 22, 2017
It was an honor to cover you and a pleasure to know you, @nateschmidt88.
A post shared by Ian Oland (@ianrmnb) on
I’ll always have this video on my phone. Good luck, @nateschmidt29. We’ll miss you. pic.twitter.com/etPU11QMhR
— carrie (@carabahniuk) June 22, 2017
I need a hug. Like this one Nate Schmidt gave me. I feel personally victimized by the Caps. pic.twitter.com/ry0Tl75tY4
— FatouFIERCE 🇬🇳 (@FatouSadio) June 21, 2017
— TheWuWu (@TheWuWu) June 21, 2017
@russianmachine @nateschmidt29 pic.twitter.com/Yfx1HiM1Qp
— Sheena (@CAPLDY) June 22, 2017
@nateschmidt29 smiled his way into our family’s heart back in 2014. Sad to see him go. #RockTheRed #beingacapsfanishard pic.twitter.com/7YbxTDE7jw
— Paula O’Rourke (@orourkepaula) June 21, 2017
Ian Oland contributed reporting.
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