Watching the Stanley Cup final was easier as a player than as a front office executive.
Vernon’s Stacey Roest can attest to that.
Roest is the assistant general manager of the NHL’s Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning, currently tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven Cup final with the Western Conference winners, the Dallas Stars (Game 3 is Wednesday at the Edmonton bubble).
“I was a black ace (healthy scratch) with the 1998 Detroit Red Wings, who won it all, but I never got my name on the Cup,” said Roest, 46, Tuesday, Sept. 22, prior to having lunch. “Every game now is stressful. You prepare all day, and even on off-days, you’re doing some work. Then it’s game day, and the game starts. I’m in the suite cringing on almost every play.”
A native of Lethbridge, Roest moved to Vernon in 2001, where he lives with wife, Billie, and kids Austin and Graci. He played four full seasons and part of a fifth as a forward with the Western Hockey League’s Medicine Hat Tigers. Undrafted, Roest signed as a free agent with the American Hockey League’s Adirondack Red Wings, and made his NHL debut with Detroit in 1998.
Roest played in 244 NHL games with the Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild, scoring 28 goals and adding 48 assists for 76 points. He spent the final nine years of his pro career playing in Switzerland’s top league. Roest represented Canada seven times during the annual Spengler Cup tournament in Switzerland, twice being named captain of Team Canada.
It was in July 2013 that Roest was hired by the Lightning as director of player development, and he kept that position until May 6, 2019, when he was promoted to become Tampa’s assistant general manager-director of player development, and general manager of the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.
He’s had a hand in developing most of the Lightning’s current roster, including the likes of scoring stars Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Yanni Gourde, Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“My time with Tampa has been a great experience,” said Roest who, like Vernon’s Dennis Holland, in his 18th year as a scout with the Stars, is three wins away from having his name engraved on one of sports’ grandest trophies.
“Denny is a good buddy. We see each other at games in Toronto, Kamloops and Kelowna. He’s a nice guy to sit and have a coffee with.”
Neither man knows if they’ll get to spend time with the Stanley Cup, which is the usual tradition for the winners, but 2020 has been anything but a usual year.
Roest, for example, when word came of the NHL’s re-start, left his family behind a week early and went to Toronto to isolate before the tournament started. He’s been in the NHL bubble, be it Toronto or now Edmonton, since the beginning.
“It was tough leaving with the kids going back to school but Billie does such a great job,” said Roest. “I mean, she’s used to me being on the road but not for two months. We’re managing.”
Being this close to a Stanley Cup win is something Roest can taste.
“It’s the first team to win 16 games,” he said. “This year, our season was interrupted then we get back into it. It’s been a great experience.”