Updated June 19, 2023 - 2:31 pm
No one appeared to be having more fun than center William Karlsson.
His speech and antics on stage at the rally at Toshiba Plaza and T-Mobile Arena quickly went viral on several national sports and social websites.
The 30-year-old, one of six original Knights still with the franchise, stumbled when the team first arrived at the rally. Soon, he didn’t have a shirt.
The normally softspoken Karlsson later grabbed a microphone for what became a speech hyping up longtime linemate Jonathan Marchessault, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner for playoff MVP, and the team’s fans.
He kept going even when Knights TV color analyst Shane Hnidy and VGK Foundation president of community relations and player initiatives Kim Frank tried to cut him off.
“This guy,” Karlsson said of Marchessault. “This effing guy. Yeah, I know, I know. So, he was here day one. Yeah. And I know you (the fans) have been here day (expletive) one. You guys are so amazing. We’ve been up and down on this journey to the Cup.
“No, no, no, no. Listen to me. We’ve been waiting for six long years for this guy to be M.V.P. Jonathan Marchessault!”
Karlsson was later carried off stage by teammate William Carrier, another original Misfit, as Marchessault took his turn to speak.
Karlsson made a triumphant return as the celebration wound down, with the Knights jamming to some of their locker-room staples like “Never Going Home” by Kungs, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA and “Hold the Line” by Toto. Their significant others even joined them on stage as the songs continued playing.
Karlsson was a critical piece to the team’s championship run. He scored 11 goals in 22 games and played exceptional defense against some of the best opposing forwards the Knights faced like Winnipeg’s Pierre-Luc Dubois, Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Dallas’ Roope Hintz.
Karlsson also became a father during the second round when his wife Emily gave birth to the couple’s first child, a son named Beckham.