On Sunday night, both Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny made their first appearances at T-Mobile Arena since being traded by the Vegas Golden Knights prior to the 2020-21 season.
The Schmidt trade was very emotional for many, himself included. While the now 30-year-old was traded to the Vancouver Canucks at the time, he is now a member of the Winnipeg Jets. During his time with the Golden Knights, he often made it clear just how much he loved playing for the organization. The fans loved having him as well, and were quite upset when he was traded. He became a household name during his first year in Vegas back in 2017-18, putting up a career high 36 points in 76 games.
“Spent some good years here and had a lot of fun,” Schmidt said after the game. “The city means a lot to me. It was special because Paul (Stastny) talked about it before the game about how it was really cool to see all the people out and about with their signs and jerseys and such… It was a fun game, really good reception. Happy that we were on the good side of things. I had some jitters, especially in the first period, but it was good.”
While Stastny joined the Golden Knights a season later than Schmidt, he made his presence felt right away after putting up 42 points in just 50 games in 2018-19. Though his offensive game declined in his second and final season, he was a well-respected middle six forward during his time in the organization. Fittingly, the team put together a nice tribute for both during a TV timeout Sunday night.
In what went down as a 5-4 overtime win for the Jets, Stastny scored the Jets third goal of the game while Schmidt played just a smidge under 19 minutes on the night. With the loss, the Golden Knights fell to a record of 22-12-1 record on the season, but still hold the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Jets on the other hand improved to 15-11-5 and sit just three points shy of the Edmonton Oilers for the final wild card position in the Western Conference.
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