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Chandler Stephenson Talks Capitals & Growing Up With Vegas

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WASHINGTON — Still in gear long after the Vegas Golden Knights’ morning skate, Chandler Stephenson sits in his visitor stall at Capital One Arena, which after years, still feels strange for the former Washington Capitals winger.

Tuesday’s victory over Washington marked just his second game back at his old stomping grounds since his trade to the Golden Knights in December 2019. It was the same arena that he started his career in and celebrated his first Stanley Cup championship in, which ironically came against Vegas in 2018. It was also at T-Mobile Arena, his new home rink, that Alex Ovechkin clung onto Stephenson’s jersey and celebrated with him as he and his teammates clinched their first title in franchise history. Stephenson ultimately brought the Cup to Humboldt in his home province to honor, remember and pay tribute to the fallen Humboldt Broncos.

“It’s bittersweet,” Stephenson admits with a smile. “With the group that we had, that’s the one thing that I missed the most. The guys and just how close we were as a team.”

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After learning of the trade, Stephenson faced a mix of emotions, from sadness to excitement for a new endeavor. He had never been traded in his still-budding career, and now, he’d head to a new conference and to that team he and his former club delivered heartbreak too en route of securing a childhood dream in the form of a championship.

“At first, it’s weird and you don’t know what to expect,” Stephenson said. “When you do come back, it doesn’t really feel like you left. It’s been good.”

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Since joining Vegas, Stephenson has gone from a budding prospect and bottom-6 forward to a top-line star. During his time in D.C., Stephenson hadn’t passed the 20-point mark, and struggling to find consistency. With the Golden Knights, he saw his play flourish, as he finished out 2019-20 with 22 points in 41 games after having recorded just four points in 24 games with Washington prior to the deal. And after a COVID-shortened 2020-21 that saw him dish 35 points in 51 games, he broke out last year with a 20-goal, 60-point season.

Not only is he now a top-line forward, who is off to another strong start with nine points in 11 games to open the 2022-23 campaign for Vegas, but the 28-year-old is also a father. He and his wife welcomed their first son, Ford, just five months ago. Life has gotten busier between parenthood and pro hockey, but Stephenson couldn’t be happier about it.

Over the last few years, No. 20 has grown up and is hitting his stride as he goes from a wide-eyed, promising forward to a solid veteran presence and constant top-6 forward at the NHL level. But more importantly for him, he has embraced a new home and is helping the Golden Knights get back to their standard after missing the playoffs last year.

“It was kind of my new team and is my team,” Stephenson said, adding, “We got a really good group here. Excited for what we’ve done so far.”

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Even though he’s playing in a new conference, Stephenson still holds D.C. close to his heart, and he’s still a fan of the organization and what the Capitals bring to the table.

“I still keep in touch with the guys and see how they’re doing,” Stephenson said, adding, “They got a lot of big guns… just that kind of swagger to them.”

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