**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
I was driving home following Sunday’s preseason finale at T-Mobile Arena and I passed by the United Blood Services facility on West Charleston. I actually pass by it often on my way to my job as editor at Gaming Today. And every time I do, my thoughts circle back to October 3, 2017.
Why October 3rd?
It was less than 24 hours following the massacre across from Mandalay Bay where the Route 91 Harvest Festival become a killing zone. A deranged gunman let loose a barrage of death and destruction, cutting short the lives of 58 people he didn’t even know while wounding hundreds of others and changing the collective psyche Las Vegas forever.
I was one of the last to leave T-Mobile Arena following the Golden Knights’ final preseason game against San Jose. I left about 10 minutes before the shooting started. I’ve talked in the past about that evening, how my phone kept pinging with texts, ringing with calls, family and friends asking if everything was O.K. Watching the grim news unfold on the 11 p.m. news and knowing even though I covered hockey, my life was about to change.
Which brings me to October 3rd.
The Knights practiced at City National Arena that morning. As you can imagine, it was a somber atmosphere. As the players were on the ice, team management and staff were hard at work, trying to figure out how best the Knights could assist in the community while at the same time, having to quickly pivot from what they planned to do for the pregame ceremony for the October 10th home opener vs. Arizona. Remember, the Knights were scheduled to open on the road that Friday at Dallas, then travel to Arizona the next night.
As the players practiced, people were lining up at blood facilities all over Southern Nevada. At the United Blood Services on Charleston, the line snaked out the door and around the building as people waited hours to donate.
Most of the Knights players visited the blood bank. Many were at Metropolitan Police headquarters to meet with the police and other first responders who had performed so bravely hours before, preventing the death toll from climbing even higher. Still others went to the Family Assistance Center at the Las Vegas Convention Center to try and console families who were dealing with the loss or the injury of loved ones.
Remember, save for Deryk Engelland, none of the players and coaches had lived in Las Vegas. This was still a new place. Many were still trying to figure out how to get around the city. Sure, they knew how to get to practice and to the arena for games. They knew how to get to the Strip. But I’ll bet none of them knew where United Blood Services was. Or where Metro headquarters was. Or even the Convention Center. So for the players, this was surreal.
Remember, 10 Golden Knights got caught up in this the night before as they were at the Cosmopolitan having a team postgame dinner when the hotel was locked down along with everything else on the Strip. They had no idea what was really going on.
But by the morning of October 3rd, everyone knew. And to a man, they quickly did what they could to comfort the community which had already embraced them as its team, which had already invested, both financially and emotionally in them. Giving back? That was the easy thing to do. But to do it tastefully and respectfully? That was the tricky part.
The team was noticeably visible. And it cemented the bond between the city and its new hockey team. Las Vegas was going to need time to heal, time to get through this, and the Golden Knights made sure they would be with the city every step of the way.
And that is why this city loves the Golden Knights.