Last night, the Vegas Golden Knights -- a brand new National Hockey League franchise -- played their first-ever home game, less than two weeks after a sickening massacre rocked their city and horrified the country. What would have been a celebratory event was instead transformed into a stirring tribute to first responders and survivors, a moving memorial to the victims, and a powerful testament to Las Vegans' strength. This entire clip of the pregame ceremony is worth watching, but if you're pressed for time, I'll summarize the highlights below -- via the NHL:
1:31 - First responders take to the ice one-by-one, accompanied by members of the team. Eventually, the visiting Arizona Coyotes lined up behind each pair, in a show of solidarity.
10:00 - The packed house stands in darkness and silence for 58 seconds, one second for each murder victim, whose names are projected onto the ice. It's haunting.
12:15 - The entire arena sings the national anthem.
14:45 - Longtime Las Vegas resident and Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland addresses the crowd:
And how's this for drama? Engelland, who had only scored 23 goals over his entire multi-season NHL career, lit the lamp in the first period -- in which the Golden Knights were totally dominant, en route to an emotional victory. Listen to the place erupt:
Las Vegas resident Deryk Engelland won't ever forget this one. pic.twitter.com/JFOoBt2VMD— NHL (@NHL) October 11, 2017
Amid all of the nasty divisions surrounding the NFL anthem controversy, the Golden Knights' home opener was an inspiring reminder of the unifying and healing power of sports. Vegas improves to 3-0 on the young season. What a night, and what a start for this expansion team.
(Disclosure: My very close friend, Dan D'Uva is the Vegas Golden Knights' radio play-by-play broadcaster).