Stanley Cup: Makar makes history with Conn Smythe Trophy win
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar added yet another incredible accomplishment to his resume by being named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy for MVP of the playoffs, as his side secured the Stanley Cup with a 2-1 win in Game 6.
In doing so, Makar became the first player to ever win all five of the Hobey Baker Award for best player in college hockey, the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year, the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the NHL's top defenseman, the Conn Smythe Trophy, and a Stanley Cup.
It is a resume that will likely book his place in the Hall-of-Fame when all is said and done – and he does not turn 24 years old until October.
Speaking to ESPN after the final siren sounded, Makar said it was a dream come true.
"I just look at [my teammates], and all the work these guys have put in," he said. "They've been here so many years, the ups and downs.
"It's just so awesome to be a part of them getting rewarded for all their hard work and success over the years. I'm just so proud of the boys.
"You grow up, you see [the Stanley Cup trophy] as a kid, you have pictures of it on your wall.
"All I think about is everyone that got me here – my family is in the stands, so it's amazing, wherever they are. It's just surreal, amazing."
He added: "It's just been building over time. I've been here only three years, with a couple tough exits in playoffs.
"It was just all leading up to this. Oh man, if you told me this was going to be three years in, I would've said I don't know… it's just amazing, I don't have any more words."
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar spoke about what it felt like to guide this team to the mountaintop.
"I'm feeling every emotion you could possibly think of," he said. "I'm just so happy and so proud of these guys, and what they've put in.
"To see them get rewarded for all their hard work is hard to describe. There's this sense of relief, a sense of satisfaction – it's still sinking in.
"When the buzzer went there was almost disbelief that we got the job done. It's been an amazing ride, and I'm just grateful that I've been able to be a part of it with this team."
He went on to touch on just how hard it is to actually make it all the way, and the evolution he has seen over the past couple of seasons.
"It's so difficult to get here, and that's why I'm so impressed with the Tampa Bay Lightning to be able to do it three years in a row and win two Cups, it's incredible," he said.
"We've gone from just being a skill team that was fun to watch, to digging in and getting more competitive in a lot of areas, and more determined in a lot of areas, but they're such a close-knit group and a resilient group.
"Whether we've learned that with maturity, or the last couple seasons of heartbreak, this group has been so focused to accomplish their goals, that's why I'm so happy they got rewarded. It's been a long journey for a lot of these guys, and it's been an amazing ride."
Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic – who spent 13 seasons as a player in Colorado, including both of the franchise's previous Stanley Cup seasons – said he is filled with joy for the older players in the team who may have thought they would never get one.
"It feels great, it's amazing," he said. "This is something you dream of. I'm so proud of the players, particularly the older guys that have been around.
"Guys like [Nathan] MacKinnon, [Gabriel] Landeskog, Erik Johnson, they didn't want to leave, they wanted to be a part of it. I'm happy for those guys.
"You bring in a guy like Jack Johnson who hasn't won, and [Andrew] Cogliano comes in, and these older guys who have been around a long time and now have their opportunity to win their first cup. Being a former player, you know how happy they are, and how relieved they are to have a chance to lift the Stanley Cup."