Today I was challenged to describe the Vegas Golden Knights in one word. Who are they? What do they mean to me? To this city?
A year ago I would have said that they are the first professional sports team Vegas has ever had… and not much more.
But then the tragedy on October 1st happened.
For citizens of Las Vegas, it was like someone robbed us of our sense of safety. We were hurt, confused, sad, and scared. We were devastated. Most people don’t realize that Vegas is a big city with a small town feel. Everyone in Vegas knew someone affected by the Route 91 Festival shooting. As a city, we felt like someone stole something from us, and we didn’t know how to get it back.
We needed someone to fight for us. And that’s what the Vegas Golden Knights did.
After the shooting, the VGK were active in the community doing anything they could to help. They visited victims and caregivers. They gave blood along side the thousands of other Las Vegans wanting to help. They hugged strangers and gave them a shoulder to cry on.
9 days after the tragedy, the Knights had their season opener at home. There, they honored the victims and first responders. They told us that they were mourning with us and would do everything they could to help us heal. We believed it. We felt it.
And then they showed it…
They came out on the ice that night and every night after with strength, speed, and purpose. It was like they took all of our built up anger and frustration at what had happened and they used it to fight to win. And win, they did.
They gave us a distraction from our sorrow. They gave us something to cheer for. But most importantly, they were fighting for us!
I know some may be thinking “It’s only a hockey team.” But for us, it’s not. Just like the Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas is a bunch of people that came together from all over the world to form one community, one team, in the desert. And like the team, Vegas wasn’t taken seriously as a real city. And yet here were the Knights, coming together as a team to prove everyone wrong while we came together as a city to prove that we were a real community, and not just workers on the strip. So no, they aren’t just a hockey team. They’re one of us. They’re OUR team.
So how do I describe our team in one word? How do I describe someone that gave us hope, distracted us from pain, gave us something to root for, and who fought for us?
A Knight fights against threats that seem too big to the average person. He is brave, loyal, humble, kind, and exceptional. A Knight is a servant to the community, is self-disciplined, and perseveres to the end. A Knight fights for his people.
These are the characteristics that describe the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s serendipitous that Bill Foley’s love of the military caused him to give the team a name that would eventually describe them perfectly.
We don’t know if the Knights will win the Stanley Cup (though we believe). We don’t know what players will still be with us next season or if they’ll perform as well as they did this year. But we do know one thing. After they saved our city from fear and sorrow, the members of the 2017/2018 Vegas Golden Knights will forever be our heroes. Forever our Knights.