Former Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith went out on the ultimate high note after six seasons with the organization.
It was a bittersweet moment, but the 32-year-old Smith prefers to see the cup as half-full.
“I’ve been very fortunate to not have to move for five years, and it’s pretty nice,” he said Friday during a Fan Fest at Downtown Summerlin ahead of Saturday’s Battle For Vegas charity softball game at Las Vegas Ballpark. “You get used to not having to have a little bit of an aggravated schedule in the summer. We’re back to it now.
“Moving isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but we’re excited about the new opportunity. It should be a lot of fun going to a great team, a great city and a great organization, so expectations are sky high there after the Penguins not making the playoffs last year. And they have a lot to prove, and I’m happy to be part of that atmosphere.”
He will get to experience a lively atmosphere with the Knights at least one more time with the softball game, which has become an incredibly popular annual event. Smith, who was one of just six remaining players from the Knights’ inaugural season, said he will carry fond memories of the city and the fans with him to the next stage of his career.
“The dedication,” he said of what he will remember most about the fans in Las Vegas. “There’s not really one moment that I can just really pinpoint. It’s been a great journey this entire time. We’ve felt support wholeheartedly throughout the entire journey. It really made me and my wife feel like this was our home. So I can’t thank the community enough.”
As for his joke about a potential retirement, Smith said it was more a product of the moment.
“I think I was just saying that as you know, it’s such an amazing achievement to win the Stanley Cup,” he said. “It’s a childhood dream that I always wanted. It’s kind of like the last bucket list item that I wanted in my hockey career. So, no, I don’t think I’m going to retire anytime soon. It was just one of those moments that was so fulfilling.”
Then, it was all over. In a salary-cap-related move, Smith was dealt to Pittsburgh for a third-round pick late last month.
“Obviously, a couple of weeks later there’s a new adventure for myself and my family that we’re very excited for,” Smith said. “We’ll get to that after this weekend because there’s a lot at stake. Honestly, it’s just such a great thing to be able to put this (charity event) on. Obviously, we have the fan fest here this year, and it’s great to see the community really supporting it.”