Golden Knights' Home Debut Marked By Emotional Tributes, Raucous Sellout Crowd
The Golden Knights made their T-Mobile Arena debut last night in front of a crowd of 18,191, and for fans who had "eagerly anticipated" a major-league professional sports franchise in Las Vegas, it was "well worth the wait," according to Case Keefer of the LAS VEGAS SUN. The Golden Knights beat the Coyotes 5-2, and at 3-0 are off to the "best start ever by an expansion franchise." The players "couldn’t hide their excitement for the atmosphere at the arena." The frills "extended into the intermissions, with Cirque du Soleil’s 'O' performing in the first and the Golden Knights’ 12-man drum line accompanied by 3D visuals overtaking the ice in the second" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/11). In Las Vegas, Schoen & Carp note Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley made the decision to "honor the victims and first responders from the Oct. 1 mass shooting on the Strip" before last night's game. The ceremony, which "lasted more than 20 minutes, began with a video of musicians and celebrities offering well wishes to the city." First responders then were "introduced and accompanied onto the ice" by a Golden Knights player or member of the front office before a "ceremonial puck-drop at center ice." After 58 seconds of silence, the sellout crowd "sang the national anthem with organizers from the outdoor country music concert." Foley said, "It was very solemn, it was very moving and it accomplished what we were trying to accomplish. I thought it was good for the town." Raiders Owner Mark Davis was in attendance for the home opener and "arrived at the arena wearing a white Knights T-shirt" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/11).
BEST SHOW IN TOWN: In L.A., Helene Elliott writes for the Golden Knights to win their first three games was secondary to their success in "turning the occasion into a cathartic shared moment that strengthened the bonds already forged through tears and tragedy." The slogan Vegas Strong was adopted by the team and the city, and last night it "replaced the advertisements that usually clutter up the boards." The theme was "echoed on towels placed at each seat and on decals on the helmets of both teams." The team also is "selling T-shirts with that slogan and donating the net proceeds to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Foundation" (L.A. TIMES, 10/11). In Las Vegas, Chris Kudialis notes fans "lined up by the hundreds at bars and restaurants outside the arena," as early as 4:00pm PT. The average ticket for last night's game on StubHub and Vivid Seats were going from $150 to "sit in the upper deck to over $1,500 to sit near the glass." The Golden Knights' debut brought "both fans and the community together in 'a unique way that few events could.'" Outside the arena, bars "filled with both local Golden Knights fans and tourists anxious to watch the historic event" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/11).
A GOLDEN NIGHT: SPORTSNET.ca's Kristina Rutherford writes opening night really "couldn’t have gone any better for the NHL’s 31st franchise, on the ice and off it." It "isn’t easy to strike a perfect balance between respect for a tragedy and celebration for the start of something exciting, but the Golden Knights did." The team "promised the opening-day festivities would be toned down in light of the tragedy, and if this was toned down, you have to wonder what it’ll look like in full force." It was a "sight to see, the pre-game procession on the sparkly gold carpet," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "posing for pictures with fans who actually weren’t booing him" (SPORTSNET.ca, 10/11). In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer writes under the header, "You Couldn't Have Asked For A Better Opening Night Of Golden Knights Hockey" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/11). Also in Las Vegas, Adam Candee writes the Golden Knights "succeeded in balancing the temporary escape sought by a weary community with the solemnity demanded" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 10/11). USA TODAY's Kevin Allen writes last night "provided a much-needed distraction" for Las Vegas (USA TODAY, 10/11). ESPN Radio's Mike Greenberg said last night was a "good illustration of the ability of sports under the right circumstances to galvanize people and bring people together.” ESPN's Booger McFarland added, "How come we can't do it when things are normal? How come we can’t just be like, ‘Things are great, let’s come together and make our country a better place'" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 10/11). In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes sports "proved to be the most powerful of remedies." The Golden Knights connected "divergent groups of folks with a common goal: For a few hours, all the pain and loss and grief would be replaced with the simplicity and excitement and emotions of a hockey game" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/11).
BACK IN THE FOLD: In Las Vegas, Ron Kantowski notes Golden Knights minority Owners Joe and Gavin Maloof were in a suite for last night's game "watching history being made as silent partners" of Foley. The Maloof siblings were "back as principals of a major league sports team, albeit minority principals." The Maloof family "played an important if understated role" in bringing the Golden Knights to Las Vegas. The two brothers own 15% of the team. Gavin Maloof on the power of sport in troubling times said, "The team can be a healing factor for a lot of people in the community" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/11).