Close to nine million Canadians were put in a jubilant state of mind when
Joe Sakic scored on a breakaway to put Canada up 5-2 on the United States
late in the gold medal game at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Over 20 million were brought to their feet when Sidney Crosby scored the
Golden Goal by beating Ryan Miller between the legs 7:40 into overtime in
the gold medal game at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
Jonathan Marchessault was inspired watching those two seminal Canadian
hockey moments. Both goals created a desire inside of him to play for
Canada’s National Men’s Team one day.
The Cap-Rouge, Que., native is thriving at the 2019 IIHF World Championship
in Slovakia – his first experience playing for Team Canada – with three
goals and six assists in six games thus far. He is racking up this strong
stat line by making silky passes and serving as a lethal weapon from the
right circle on a vaunted Canadian power play.
“It’s been an unreal experience so far,” says the 28-year-old. “I always
wanted to experience Team Canada at least once in my life. I definitely
want to embrace it and go for a gold medal.”
While it was perhaps predestined for the likes of Crosby or Sakic to shine
on the international stage for Canada, it was less so for the Vegas Golden
The journey that Marchessault took to get to this moment powerfully
illustrates how important perseverance is in the pursuit of dreams.
Rewind the clock to June 23, 2011. Marchessault, then 20, did not hear his
name called at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, despite an all-star season for the
Quebec Remparts that saw him produce 40 goals and 95 points in 68 games.
“I heard that I was too small and not quick enough, but I had heard [those
criticisms] every year,” says the winger. “I set goals for myself, and I
was going to reach them. I knew I was going to make it to the NHL. It was
just a matter of time.”
He vigorously chased the dream by signing a free agent contract with the
Connecticut Whale – now the Hartford Wolf Pack – of the American Hockey
League soon after the draft.
The resilient Marchessault accrued a strong AHL resume with the Whale
(2011-12), Springfield Falcons (2012-14) and Syracuse Crunch (2014-16). His
persistence paid off in 2015-16 when he appeared in 45 games with the Tampa
Bay Lightning, earning the opportunity to push himself towards becoming a
That set the stage for his breakout campaign with the Florida Panthers the
following season. With Jonathan Huberdeau out four months, Marchessault was
promoted to the top line.
“It was a big test of character to have a chance like that, and to be in
that position at that time,” says Marchessault. “It was time for me to cash
Cash in he did: Marchessault led the team with 30 goals, the first Panther
to reach that plateau since David Booth in 2008-09.
While Marchessault “was surprised” by the decision not to protect him in
the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, he adopted the mindset that he was being
afforded another opportunity to prove himself.
He rose to the occasion yet again as he produced 75 points in 77 games
during Vegas’ dream of a debut season, adding 21 points in 20 games during
its magical run to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
During the campaign, Marchessault hit the jackpot with a six-year $30
million deal, providing him the means to take care of his growing young
family – he and his wife Alexandra are expecting a fourth child later in
2019 – for years to come.
“It means the most for me to provide stability for my family, especially
since we have been everywhere the last few years,” says Marchessault. “I
also wanted to prove to a lot of people, and myself, that I was a top-six
forward in the NHL, and I was able to do that.”