Nate Schmidt was traded from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday after VGK landed Alex Pietrangelo in free agency.
A day later, the beloved former Capital did his first interview with Canucks media. It lasted 26 minutes. One participant described Schmidt as a “talker” afterward. Yup. Meanwhile, the Canucks’ PR representative hosting the call seemed amused by how open, lengthy, and enthusiastic Nate’s answers were.
The trade caught Schmidt by surprise and he admitted that he was still very raw about leaving Vegas. But he pointed out the positives of joining a rapidly-improving Canucks team which includes his “best friend” Braden Holtby and Jay Beagle.
Schmidt’s emotions were all over the map during the interview — at times he was near tears, while others he was laughing and making jokes. The whole thing was Very Nate: fun, open, and unrelentingly positive.
So here are the highlights because I assume you don’t have a half-hour to carefully watch this masterpiece.
– Canucks PR tells media on the Zoom call to utilize the ‘raise hand’ function to ask questions. Schmidt then raises his hand as a helpful guide.
– Schmidt on his emotions:
“Last night was hard. You put down some roots in a place. You’re there from the beginning. That’s always something special to be. Not very many guys can say they’ve been at a place from the ground up.”
– He called Vegas Golden Knights “we,” and then catches himself. “Ah, no. We.”
– Schmidt on his outfit:
“I didn’t have a blue sweatshirt so you guys get my junior blue, my junior team.” [pulls up Fargo Force sweatshirt]
– There was of course lots of smiling.
– Schmidt calls Braden Holtby his best friend:
“With each passing hour, you get more and more excited about the idea of being a Vancouver Canuck… Just the buzz with the team. Braden Holtby, Jay Beagle, guys that I’ve played with before. Braden was one of my best friends in hockey so really excited to be back with him. You’re joining an organization that’s trending in such a positive and impactful direction with their team.”
– Heartbroken Nate on the trade:
“I did not hear anything. That wasn’t until the deal was done. You know that with Pietrangelo coming in there had to be something that had to give. It’s one of those things where it was a tough pill to swallow at first. Last night was hard with coming to terms with it on how we signed the extension, to the language and the talk at the time, to what has happened in the last 12 hours, which I guess you could say is different.”
– But then, acceptance:
“I got through my workout this morning, talked to my family, and you start to remember. You look back at the series you play against these guys. Vancouver has been my favorite place to play, you can ask Braden, and come visit on the road. My favorite city. Always a buzz around the rink. Passionate fanbase. Speak with you guys a lot more often. You get to see my ugly mug a little bit more. The opportunity to be in a Canadian market and play for a team that has a lot of talent and a lot of upward-trending in the organization and on the ice.”
– Nate admits to being victimized by Canucks forwards during past games:
“I’m pretty sure I can remember Pettersson spinning me into a top last year to Brocker going backdoor.”
– Schmidt’s keys to success in Vancouver:
“For me, be rock solid, keep my feet moving, defend hard, eat a couple of pucks for dinner, and just be ready to step into a role where I might be the oldest guys on the team. It’s wild to say that!”
– How Nate describes himself:
“I’m a pretty fun-loving guy, a little goofy at times… Don’t tell anybody, but they pay me to have fun every day and I love what I do.”
– His biggest fear joining the Canucks:
“I hope the guys aren’t too sensitive about being too loud and goofy sometimes in the locker room”
– Schmidt on Thatcher Demko’s performance against VGK in the playoffs:
“He really put a hurt on our mojo.”
– On Vancouver’s new goaltending duo:
“[Thatcher Demko] and Braden are going to be an incredible tandem to have going forward. It’s a really big luxury to have two guys that can win you games every single night. It’s an incredible thing to have for your team.”
– Nate Schmidt has a battle cry:
“It was something Justin Williams, one of my favorite guys to ever play with, does. He’s awesome. He did it a few times at training camp and I asked him why and he said, ‘I don’t know. I just feel like everyone knows it me.’ So I did it a couple of times as well. There were times where I would whoop at him and he said, ‘Yeah, I knew you were there because no one else talks to me like that!’ I guess it’s second nature now so it just happens. If guys hear it, they know it’s me and it’s always really loud and piercing. I guess, I don’t think any other guys are doing it so it makes it a little bit easier for people to know that I’m coming up the ice.
– On how tough it is to leave Vegas:
“Going back to what we went through as a group and what the city went through on October 1st (mass shooting) and just being a part of that. Then you back that up three weeks and just getting there and seeing the city. Vegas, it gets a different rap. For me as a guy that visited there in college or before I played, you think ‘Ah, man. This is great. There’s a strip in the middle. What a time!’ And then you get outside the city and you realize what a phenomenal place and what a phenomenal people.
“It’s something I’ll never forget. We healed together. I was down on the strip that night. It was crazy. Something I’ll never forget. It wasn’t that close to what had happened but you still remember things like it was yesterday. You forever feel a bond in that moment and the moment in the next couple of days, and for the next two years – you’re a part of the fabric of the community. That’s what you remember most. I loved playing with the guys. Obviously, miss them. It was a great group. It was emotional last night. You pour your heart and soul out into it with the group.”
– On Vegas’s success during their first season in the NHL:
“I don’t think you’ll ever replicate that.”
– On George McPhee’s support when he tested positive for steroids:
“I’ll never forget what was said and the way the team… George was the first guy I called when I heard the news that there was a possibility that this thing was happening (testing positive for steroids). He was the first guy, there’s no way. It wasn’t even a question. It wasn’t even a ‘Are you sure? Did you take anything?’ Or whatever. It was ‘I know what you’re telling me is the truth.’ From that moment, I knew — and me and George have gone back a long way — there hasn’t been any communication recently. That one we’ll see. But you look back (in) 20 years, he gave me my shot in Washington. The guy that picked me in the expansion draft. It’s a fresh wound right now. Emotions are obviously running in every direction. I think that one I would need a little more time to digest. It was hard given the previous communications in the past versus what happened.”
– Nate thanks Golden Knights fans for their support:
[Turns to camera] “Thank you so much for embracing me and having me be my lovable goofy self and being with me from the ground up. The situation that didn’t start off the greatest and I’ll never forget. I’m a forever misfit. Our run together can’t be matched. I just want to say thank you. There’s a lot of guys that move places and whatnot, and you hear about it, but there really truly is a special place for me for the community of Las Vegas and I love and miss you guys. Stay safe and healthy.”
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