“I came close to giving up” – Logan Thompson reflects on his unlikely journey to the NHL
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FORT LAUDERDALE | Four years ago, Logan Thompson found himself at a crossroads. In 2018-2019, he continued his career as a goaltender for the Brock University Badgers in Ontario. Never drafted, a position in the NHL remained a mere illusion.
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Thompson, 25, found a way to hang on. Today, he's not just the number one goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights, he also has a 2023 All-Star Game appearance on his resume.
“Yeah, it's hard to believe,” Thompson said after the Pacific Division's 6-4 loss to Central in the All-Star Game. I had never put the NHL All-Star Game on my wish list. I never expected to play in the NHL anymore. But I got a call from the NHL saying they were inviting me to Florida for the All-Star Game. I was in shock. I was surprised, but so happy. »
“I didn't think about that possibility,” he continued. I got a text from our GM with the Knights, Kelly McCrimmon, asking me to call him. At first, it's scary. My heartbeat became very fast. But Kelly finally had some good news for me. There are so many good goaltenders in the NHL, I wasn't thinking of an all-star appearance. Me, I'm happy just at the idea of playing at the NHL level. »
A long journey
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Thompson played four seasons for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Ontario Junior League . The right-handed catching goaltender never had the good fortune to hear his name at an NHL Draft.
At the end of his junior career in 2018, he received an invite to Washington Capitals rookie camp. But he failed to convince the Caps to offer him a contract.
With no place to pursue his career, he ended up at Brock University in 2018-19. At that time, he was a long way from the NHL.
“I've always believed in myself,” he said when asked to describe his unusual journey. I never stopped working even though there were several times when I came close to giving up. I kept my competitive spirit, I did not let myself down. This is the main lesson I take away: I fought. I have always worked hard.”
“This is the reality of the CHL, he chained. When you don't get drafted in your first year of eligibility, it gets even harder. The teams always look for the youngest. When you get older, you get a little frustrated with this reality. You ask yourself questions. Why not me ? It's probably more difficult in the goalkeeper position. At 17, you don't often have a big role when you play in the WHL, the OHL or the Q (LHJMQ).
Marty Williamson, Brock's 2018-19 coach, reminisced about his days with Thompson in an interview with The Journal.
“I suspected he was going to leave quickly from the Canadian university ranks, said Williamson, who is now coach and general manager of the Barrie Colts in the OHL. I knew he had the talent to turn pro. He was dominant with us. But I couldn't predict his whole journey.
One step at a time
After Brock University, Thompson got a tryout in the ECHL with the Adirondack Thunder for the end of the 2018-2019 season. The following year, he found himself with the South Carolina Stingrays, still in the ECHL.
In 2020-2021, he made the jump to the American League with the Golden Knights' school team, the Henderson Silver Knights. He engraved his name on the Baz Bastien trophy, awarded to the best goaltender on the circuit.
During the same season, he also participated in his first game in the NHL. On March 10, 2021, he blocked two shots in just over eight minutes in a 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild. He replaced Marc-André Fleury in the third period.
On January 4, 2022, Thompson got his first NHL start, a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. He became the first Canadian goaltender from the college ranks to receive an NHL start since George Maneluk in 1990 with the New York Islanders.
“Logan is a message of hope for the youngest players in hockey who feel like they're at a crossroads,” said Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy. Nothing is ever impossible. I hope Logan liked his game even if it's difficult for a goalkeeper. I want him to feel like he really belongs among the best in the NHL. »