LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NHL’s fledgling Golden Knights understand Las Vegas is in need of inspiration and hope after last weekend’s deadly shooting and they’re trying to provide some.
Golden Knights players have visited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department headquarters, United Blood Services, and the Las Vegas Convention Center, where a family assistance center has been set up. The team will also acknowledge the victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history and their families at the inaugural home opener, though the franchise is still finalizing details.
Meanwhile, the Golden Knights, the Foley Family Charitable Trust and the National Hockey League announced a joint donation of $300,000 to support the victims of Sunday night’s mass shooting as well as the first responders that have worked nonstop since the incident occurred.
“Sports are a great thing, it can help take people’s minds off of things,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said during a media day Wednesday. “As much as the city has embraced us, we’re a part of Las Vegas.”
Center Jonathan Marchessault said the players were honored to meet with officers when the team visited police headquarters earlier this week.
“We’re nothing compared to those guys,” Marchessault said. “What they’ve done and what they do for our community and our country, it’s amazing. If you think about it we’re just entertainers, that’s it. They save lives, they make sure everything goes properly around us. They’re survivors, they’re warriors.”
The expansion Golden Knights are the city’s first major sports franchise and they’ve generated a lot of excitement before playing a single game. They open the season on Friday in Dallas and they play their first home game next Tuesday.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland has lived in the city since 2003, however, and the shooting has left his family shaken.
“My wife is still shaken up, she’s almost scared to go to the games, take the kids to the home opener,” said Engelland. “It hits hard and it hits in a lot of different ways. You see these things happen all over the world and no one ever thinks it’s going to happen in their backyard. For it to happen here, it’s horrific.”