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Las Vegas Golden Knights impact the city with more than just wins

Las Vegas

The Las Vegas Golden Knights are the 31st team in the National Hockey League. Furthermore, their efforts in revitalizing the community have gone further than simply playing the sport.

Sports have the ability to unify a city which the Knights were planning to do as an expansion team. The organization has since become fuel for the city in the wake of the Vegas shooting.

Professional athletes always have a platform to partake in charitable contributions to society. They remind us that they are human and willing to help on and off the playing surface. Furthermore, it is difficult to not feel or have any emotion when players are active participants in helping their cities. Teams can help citizens feel good about where they live and where they come from. The Golden Knights are doing this in tremendous fashion.

Opening Night in Vegas

Tuesday, Oct. 10 was the Knights’ home opener at the T-Mobile Center. It was historic on all accounts. NHL hockey was alive in Las Vegas. The home team made history with their performance ending the night with a 5-2 win over Arizona. The victims of the shooting were remembered before, during and will in every game the Knights play this year.

Las Vegas Golden Knights
Photo: Sports Illustrated

It is respectful procedure to have a moment of silence before a sporting event in the aftermath of tragedy. However, to stand together in unity, the Knights made a more meaningful gesture in memoriam.

Each of the victims’ 58 names were lit up on the ice and the Vegas faithful stood in solidarity for 58 seconds. Then, Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland (a Las Vegas native) gave a heartwarming speech to the crowd informing them of his pride in calling Las Vegas home. A historic night at the T-Mobile Arena then ensued.

The Knights had already made history becoming the first expansion team to win their first two games prior to their home opener. Rally towels, insanely high crowd noise and the goal horn were all in effect on this night leading to their third win. Vegas put up four goals in the first period that electrified the crowd and me (the viewer) personally. Hockey along with the sporting world at large is dedicated to being a part of something bigger than the game itself. The Golden Knights are playing in honor of those victims who lost their lives in the tragic shooting which is an easy cause to get behind.

Knight In Shining Armor

James Neal was selected in this summer’s expansion draft from the Nashville Predators to be the Knights’ premier goal scorer. He has become just that and then some.

Las Vegas Golden Knights
Photo: Las Vegas Review-Journal.

In his first three games, Neal has scored five goals including the first game-winning goal in franchise history. The team has yet to name its captain, but he has already been named an alternate.

The 30-year-old veteran is still in his prime and has averaged over 20 goals throughout his career. Scoring the game-winner in the team’s first game against Dallas was one of the best feelings he’s had in hockey, he said according to USA Today. The team is creating chemistry by coming together as well as the fans knowing they are making history.

It’s a tricky situation potentially with this being a contract year for Neal. It isn’t if the Knights eventually fall into the expected cellar where they would trade him for a pile of assets at the deadline. However, if the club miraculously stays competitive throughout the year, they would face a tough decision. For now, they prevail onward in their historic inaugural season with their “knight in shining armor.”

Bigger than the game

Hard times and tragedy highlight what the sports platform is capable of in terms of unity.

In any case, the essence of sports at all times embraces the togetherness of its teams and fans. They evoke emotion and passion within those involved. Many relationships are formed and sustained through the teams that play in their cities.

Las Vegas is now home to an NHL franchise and will soon be home to an NFL franchise. For those who did not believe hockey would work, the organization received deposits for all 16,000 season tickets available for this season.

This town is deserving of pro sports with their economy and people within their economy already benefiting. Hockey is a powerful sport, and those who do not follow hockey are already seeing what the sport can do, thanks to the home opener on Oct. 10.



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