It starts with a fake boxing match against goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
That’s followed by several high-fives, a few elbows and a couple of hugs for good measure.
“I think ‘Belly’ has a handshake with everybody,” Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller said.
Before the start of every Knights game, forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare stations himself next to the tunnel leading onto the ice and begins his routine with several of his teammates.
The tradition has grown throughout the season with more players getting in on the fun with the 33-year-old assistant captain, a ritual that will no doubt continue when the Knights take on the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup Final starting Monday at T-Mobile Arena.
No pregame tradition like Bellemare's hand shake line pic.twitter.com/BR3pmHxqg1
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) April 14, 2018
“I’ve always tried to find something with the guys that want that,” Bellemare said. “Sometimes, guys don’t want that. With the guys that want, I always try to find something a little bit different. I don’t know. It’s something before the game, then you know you have a bit of a thing, and then it’s game time.”
Bellemare’s handshakes range from simple taps on the gloves to more elaborate displays.
He uses a fake high-five with forward Cody Eakin and a basic high-five with forwards Ryan Carpenter and Tomas Tatar.
Rookie forward Alex Tuch added a twist, using the back of his hand to greet Bellemare as he exits the locker room.
Defenseman Shea Theodore, meanwhile, exchanges a handshake and quick hug.
“We just kind of made up one,” Theodore said. “I feel like a lot of guys just do different things as we’re on the way out. Over a long season, you kind of get used to it. He’s one of the last guys out of the room, and he’s got a lot of shakes, I guess.”
Miller and Bellemare have one of the most detailed shakes, though the defenseman isn’t sure how to describe it.
“I don’t even know what it is. It’s just kind of a routine that a lot of guys do,” Miller said with a chuckle. “A lot of them look pretty stupid, but they’re kind of just fun things to do before the games. Ours just kind of evolved over the season, and then it kind of became something.”
Injured forward Will Carrier has a three-step pregame routine with Bellemare when the former is in the lineup.
It starts with a handshake before Carrier and Bellemare raise their arms and then slam their elbows together.
“I think (Bellemare is) more like a basketball guy when it comes to (celebrations). He loves it,” Carrier said. “I think that’s where he gets it from. I’m not a big basketball fan, but I see those guys have a lot of them.
“It’s just to get focused and it’s like a routine we get into so every game seems the same game and you’ve got the same routine minute to minute. It’s nice to get into the same spot.”
For Bellemare, the handshakes are a simple way of building chemistry with new teammates.
“I don’t really have a favorite to be honest,” Bellemare said. “All of them kind of reflects on who the person is, really. You can tell they all have something different, and a lot of times, I’m not the one finding them. They’re the one coming up with them, so it’s fun stuff.”
One player who doesn’t have a pregame handshake with Bellemare is forward Jonathan Marchessault.
But that hasn’t prevented the Knights’ leading scorer in the playoffs from enjoying Bellemare’s show.
“Along the year, I see a few trainers have a handshake with him. It’s pretty funny, but that’s something we don’t have,” Marchessault said. “I don’t think I have that skill in me.”