NHL hockey has officially arrived in Las Vegas with a spirited home opener for the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday (NZ time). This would have been a historic event regardless of circumstance, but it held a special significance to help show the world that Vegas is indeed strong.
On the night of October 1st, a gunman opened fire on a music festival from his Mandalay Bay hotel room. 58 people sadly lost their lives that day, a further 489 were injured. It is the deadliest mass shooting in US history committed by an individual. Those 58 were honoured during the Golden Knights home opener as were the first responders that came to their aid.
“Athletes are often referred to as heroes. Tonight as we introduce your Vegas Golden Knights, we’d like to introduce our heroes…the heroes of Las Vegas. Those people who’s actions on 1 October will forever remind us of the best of humankind.”
58 seconds for a moment of silence. One second for each person who lost their life that day. At the end, all of their names were displayed on the ice as The Star-Spangled Banner was sung by the capacity crowd in attendance.
During the ceremony, the Arizona Coyotes stood behind the Golden Knights as a sign of solidarity and togetherness.
Following on from the anthem, Las Vegas native and Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland delivered an emotional speech that will likely see him become an instant hero in his hometown – as if he wasn’t one already.
“To the families and friends of the victims, know that we’ll do everything we can to help you and our city heal.” – Deryk Engelland, VGK
Engelland went on to score, helping the Vegas Golden Knights win their home opener 5-2 and become the first expansion team in NHL history to start their inaugural season with a 3-0-0 record.
To cap off the magical night, both teams saluted the crowd at centre ice to show they played just as big of a part in the stands as the players did on the ice.
The very thought of having an expansion team in this market brought its naysayers; but after what transpired in the home opener, what is very clear is this: Hockey belongs in Las Vegas. This city needs a team like the Golden Knights to rally behind and it’s clear VGK are not taking that responsibility lightly.
Main photo: Twitter, Vegas Golden Knights