Last season, he was a Buffalo Sabre. This season, Ryan O'Reilly was named Most Valuable Player as his St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup series. It was a first for him and his team.
O'Reilly scored the Blues’ first goal for a fourth consecutive game, to establish a franchise record for most points in a playoff year: 22 points. That goal came late in the first period of Game 7. Alex Pietrangelo, Brayden Schenn and Zach Sanford also scored for St. Louis. Boston's lone goal came from Matt Grzelcyk.
Only O'Reilly and Mark Messier have ever had a six-game point streak in a cup final and, in both cases, it went seven games.
The gritty forward's parents were waiting for him by the Zamboni door and gave their son a big hug, his mother with tears in her eyes. O'Reilly was so excited to win, he dropped an F-bomb speaking live with the CBC on the ice.
"You know, with the way Binner (goalie John Binnington) performed there, you know, he was unbelievable. That first period, he made unbelievable saves and gave us a chance to get a little mojo going," said the 28-year-old team captain. "You know, once we got that lead, we knew we were (bleep)ing going to get it."
He quickly apologized.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so wrapped up. I'm so sorry," said #90.
CBC reporter Scott Oake shook it off, saying he had "heard that word in hockey before."
"I'm terribly sorry. I apologize," O'Reilly continued. "But it was unbelievable. We worked so hard. I don't know what to say. It's amazing."
Speaking later at a post-game press conference, O'Reilly said it was "really tough at the start" of the series, with "such high expectations," but they couldn't seem to "put anything together" or "get momentum."
"We'd have a good game, then fall apart the next one," he said. "It was tough. I think we were all questioning each other. We got frustrated, but we kept working. We had great leadership at all sorts of times to keep working, to keep working and eventually, things started to click."
O'Reilly was playing hurt through the series. He said he "cracked a rib in Dallas," then "got bumped again in San Jose," but a "great medical staff" and "adrenaline" kept him going.
What was it like achieving his lifelong dream?
"It's tough to describe, you know. The cup, you know. It's the ultimate goal and just trying to go out there and be the spark and try to make a difference," he said, "and looking at the names on this thing and to be a part of this group. Like, most of these guys on here, i pretended I was as a kid and now to be on there with them, it's an incredible feeling. There's so many people to thank and I'm just so proud of this group and myself, too. I just can't believe that we hung on and got this done."
O'Reilly was traded by teh Buffalo Sabres in July for three forwards and two draft picks. The 6' 1", 216-lb center had 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) in 81 games with the Sabres in the 2017-18 season and was second in the NHL in face-off winning percentage (60 percent).
The Associated Press contributed to this story.