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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Defenseman Nate Schmidt overheard the discussion in the Golden Knights’ locker room Thursday and had to jump in.
“When you say ‘Star Wars,’” defenseman Shea Theodore said, “his eyes just light up.”
Schmidt is the biggest “Star Wars” fan on the Knights and has been eagerly awaiting the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the final installment of the sequel trilogy that came out Thursday.
He said he is staying off social media and the internet as much as possible to avoid any spoilers before he sees the movie.
“We’re not going before Christmas. We couldn’t get everybody together to have it all work,” Schmidt said. “I am extremely excited. But I feel like there’s going to be such a hammer in the movie that it’s going to be so hard to get away from.”
When “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” debuted in theaters in 2017, Schmidt said several members of the organization went to see it together.
With the team currently hosting its fathers trip, Schmidt anticipates a similar outing once the team returns to Las Vegas.
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William Karlsson and Alex Tuch are also big fans of the “Star Wars” movies, Schmidt said. But a number of their teammates confessed they barely know a lightsaber from the Buffalo Sabres.
“Is there a new movie coming out?” rookie defenseman Nic Hague asked.
“I’ve never seen any of them. How many are there?” Theodore said.
“I’ve seen ‘Spaceballs,’ ” Max Pacioretty said of the 1987 parody. “Never seen (a “Star Wars” movie) in my life. I get flak for that. Maybe eventually I’ll watch one.”
Injured center Cody Eakin (upper body) joined the Knights for their two-game road trip that concludes Sunday at San Jose.
Eakin, out since Nov. 29, was seen stretching before Thursday’s morning skate at Rogers Arena but has not resumed skating.
“Good sign,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s not going to play on this trip, for sure, but, hopefully, get him back soon. He’s got stages to go through, and he’s working hard.”
The NHL’s annual holiday roster freeze began at 11:59 p.m. Thursday and lasts until 12:01 a.m. Dec. 28.
The rule prevents players on the active roster or injured reserve from being traded, waived or loaned. Teams can still make recalls if roster space is available and claim players who were waived before the freeze.
William Carrier’s dad, Andre, was put to work by the Knights during the first day of the annual fathers trip. Andre Carrier interviewed Gallant after the morning skate and asked whether his son would be getting more ice time.
“He’s playing hard, he competes hard and he’s playing the same game every night,” Gallant responded. “A smarter coach would play him a little bit more, for sure.”