Although the Silver Knights’ season wrapped on April 15, Brendan Brisson and Lukas Cormier’s seasons aren’t quite over yet. They’ve been training as part of the Golden Knights’ taxi squad, an opportunity that they’re both relishing.
What’s it like being a part of the VGK taxi squad?
Brisson: The taxi squad has been really fun. I think this is a really good opportunity for me and Corms. Not necessarily because we’re going to get a game, but for me and him it’s about the opportunity to be around the NHL and learn. It starts off our summer training well, too, we haven’t taken a break since we had our last game of the [AHL] season. It’s a big summer for us going into mini-camp, and hopefully we’re here for a while.
Cormier: It’s been really fun. Like Briss said, the skates are really fun, we’re enjoying ourselves. We’re having fun while we’re working hard, so it’s been good.
HSK Captain Brayden Pachal made his playoff debut in the first round against the Winnipeg Jets. Did you guys get to go to that game? What was that like?
Cormier: We were at [Game 5], so we got to see it live. He found out right after warmups, so when we saw him on the ice it was a really cool surprise. Obviously really happy for him, it’s a pretty awesome experience.
Brisson: Yeah, it was sick. I mean – like, the whole way it happened, he wasn’t even supposed to play, and then just to like – play a game in the NHL playoffs. And it was Game 5, when they won the series. He went in and played like a baller, too, he was a beast. It was great to watch live.
You mentioned the opportunity to be around the NHL and learn. Have there been any players on the Golden Knights you’ve been learning from in particular?
Brisson: For me, I really like to watch Reilly Smith. Just watching him and his compete level, it’s not only his skill. So just watching him closely away from the puck, watching his forecheck and his work. And obviously his offensive stuff, the fun stuff. There’s a lot of guys on our team that you can take great things from, but for me it’s probably Smith.
Cormier: Yeah, it’s been fun going to the games and playoffs, just to see the atmosphere at the rink. And getting to see those guys play like –
Brisson, interrupting: McNabb? Big guy.
Cormier: A guy like Theodore, more of a puck-moving defenseman. Seeing the way he creates offense. It’s fun to watch him play.
(Whether he will take Brisson’s interruptions under advisement, he did not say.)
What have you been enjoying about Vegas away from the rink?
Brisson: The best thing for me, like, the weather’s really good. We’ve been golfing a lot after [taxi squad] practice. Going to the pool. During the year, we went on a lot of hikes to Mount Charleston. I don’t know, what do you like to do, Corms? Hang out with me.
Cormier: For me it’s pretty different, the weather and stuff, compared to where I was in the past. New Brunswick and PEI [Prince Edward Island], there’s a lot of snow. That was a big change for sure.
Brisson: The fans were awesome this year, too –
Cormier, interrupting: For having a team in the same city as the NHL team, too, I feel like everywhere that we go we get, just, great fans.
Brisson: Yeah, it’s like, sick, too. I mean, I grew up in California, so close to Vegas. And I never would have thought when I was growing up that Vegas would become this hockey city. I never made it into Vegas until I literally moved here, and I literally could not believe how many VGK and HSK logos I see everywhere, like, it’s ridiculous. It was so fun to play at home, it was always buzzing. Literally, you’re on the bench and the whole bench is shaking. They’re beauties, we have sick fans.
Cormier: Yeah, it’s sick. We’re looking forward to seeing all the fans again next year.
Anything that surprised you about your first full year of professional hockey?
Brisson: It’s crazy, like, I mean – me and Corms are kind of similar in this sense, we’re like – not too many people make it to the NHL, or even pro hockey. Like, from our two cities, our two towns. I’m from California, and he’s from, like, a small town in New Brunswick.
Cormier: Yeah, a really small town.
Brisson: Everyone’s kind of told us our whole lives, really, “oh, you play hockey.” Or for me, really, ‘hockey? What’s hockey?” Living in California. So it’s always been kind of like, your dream is kind of crazy for wanting to play in the NHL.
Cormier: For me it’s a little different, obviously in Canada it’s all hockey. So everyone wants to play hockey and follow hockey. So it’s pretty cool. In the town I’m from it’s rare that somebody makes it far. I think in my age group, a lot of people were playing junior hockey and stuff like that, so it’s been good.
What does downtime look like for the two of you?
Brisson: We play Google Maps guesser.
Cormier: Honestly, Briss is really good at this geo-guesser game. It’ll just be like a random street somewhere and he’ll be like “oh, that’s Chile.” And it’ll be in, like, Chile or something. Like, south Chile, not even – he’ll know exactly where it is.
Brisson, interrupting: Brazil, that street’s in Brazil.
(For the record, he was correct.)
Brisson: If we took like, a full-on trivia quiz, I’d be in the top-5 on our team.
Any final thoughts on the season?
Cormier: Yeah, obviously we were hoping to do better. But it was still good, just to see how it is, get used to this part of the life of a pro hockey player.
Brisson: Yeah, I feel like that was the biggest thing from this year. Kind of just getting your feet wet away from the rink. I had school a lot. And now it’s literally just to the rink and you’re at home all day. It’s up to you to stay on top of all that stuff. It’s been good for us, doing that together.