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September 24, 2018

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What they said: NHL writers on their first time through Las Vegas

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L.E. Baskow

Vegas Golden Knights fans sing and celebrate their win over the Chicago Blackhawks as the game nears the end at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017.

Golden Knights beat Blackhawks

The drumline entertains the Vegas Golden Knights fans as they face the Chicago Blackhawks during their game at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Launch slideshow »

The Vegas Golden Knights conclude their first homestand today. The 5-1 stretch opened with a moving tribute to the victims and responders in the Oct. 1 shooting, continuing with two overtime victories and a resounding 4-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Here’s what hockey writers had to say about their first time through T-Mobile Arena.

CHICAGO

“Like a lot of road venues when the Blackhawks are in town, T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas has plenty of red among the seas of black and gray worn by the Golden Knights and their fans.

It gave Tuesday’s first-ever matchup between the Knights and Hawks the feel of the many prize fights that have taken place in Las Vegas with the crowd reacting to each team’s next counterpunch.”

— Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune

“Five of the Knights' first seven games have come at home at T-Mobile Arena, and they have won four. There is talk around the league about a potential ‘Vegas flu’ for visiting players who party too hard the night before their game. Despite having two off nights in Las Vegas, the Hawks said too much partying shouldn't be an issue for them.”

— Chris Hine, Chicago Tribune

"The veterans pretty much have retired as party animals, and this new generation of NHL players is more likely to play video games than paint the town red. … That’s not to say the Hawks aren’t looking forward to having two days off in Las Vegas. Whether it’s sitting by the pool, squeezing in a round of golf or throwing some money around at a table, it’s a welcome change of pace from the typical grind of the NHL season."

— Mark Lazerus, Chicago Sun-Times

ST. LOUIS

“As you might expect, hockey in Las Vegas comes with a little more flash, a little more sizzle than you might find elsewhere. There’s a guy in a knight outfit who leads a drum line on a march through the plaza in front of the arena before the game, and shortly before teams take the ice for the game, there is a little sword-in-the-stone drama that unfolds at center ice, with the Golden Knights mascot pulling the sword out to get things started.”

— Tom Timmermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

BUFFALO

“On the night of the shooting, the Golden Knights had wrapped up their final preseason game about 2 1/2 hours before the chaos began. Some players were having a late dinner up the street at the Cosmopolitan when word spread on Twitter.

‘We didn't really know if it was real,’ Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb recalled. "We wanted to get out of there once we heard and they locked us down for a couple hours but our security team did a great job getting us out of there. They sent three cars for us and got us home safely.’

From that point, the Golden Knights became ambassadors, much like the Yankees were in New York after 9/11 and the Red Sox were in Boston following the marathon bombings. But those were teams with decades of tradition. This team had yet to play an official game.”

— Mike Harrington, Buffalo News

ESPN

“Nothing ever feels permanent in Las Vegas. The first major sporting events that took place in Las Vegas after the shooting were a UFC pay-per-view on Saturday and an NBA preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento Kings on Sunday. After those events were over, the fighters and the players, much like the tourists that pack the city's 120,000 hotel rooms, boarded flights back home and went back to their normal lives.

There was something different about Tuesday night. This was a local crowd cheering for its first local professional sports team. The Golden Knights became a part of the fabric of Las Vegas on Tuesday. They weren't heading to their hotel afterward and to the airport in the morning. They were heading home to their families and back to their new practice facility in Summerlin, about 20 miles northwest of the Strip, in the morning. The first responders they honored before the game and the fans they saluted after the game are their neighbors.”

— Arash Markazi, ESPN

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

“There were aspects of the night that still felt very Vegas-y. The enormous panorama of the Strip curved around one end of the arena just below the ceiling. An inflatable beach ball in the shape of a six-sided die that bounced around one section early in the night. Perhaps a little too much Carrot Top on the jumbotron. And yes, the Cirque du Soleil performers who put on a show during the first intermission.

On Tuesday night the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2. It would be trite to say that a hockey game will help the grieving families or scarred community recover. This will take a long time. But for the many fans, the Vegas residents, those who had waited a long time for what they expected to be a happy night, they got one with a happy ending. Viva Las Vegas.”

— Mitch Goldich, Sports Illustrated

DETROIT

“Players came away dazzled and impressed.

That Las Vegas is onto something in its latest attraction, the Vegas Golden Knights, was evident to the Detroit Red Wings, as they made their debut at T-Mobile Arena on Friday. The arena was packed, and people were in their seats cheering and chanting. …

The Wings arrived in Vegas in the middle of the night after flying in after their Thursday game at Arizona. As they made the short bus ride from McCarran International Airport to their hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, passing by the fountains at the Bellagio hotel, they were greeted by electronic billboards advertising seemingly every artist on the planet as a current or coming attraction. But there was buzz for the newest artist in residence, too: the expansion hockey franchise that had just played its first home game two days earlier. …

The electric atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena befitted a playoff game. Fans in Wings gear were plentiful, and it’s the presence of tourists and transplants that signals Vegas will not suffer the uncertainty of other teams located in markets not traditionally associated with hockey, such as Arizona and Carolina.”

— Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

BOSTON

“The Bruins had the rare opportunity after the game to enjoy the sights and sounds of Las Vegas. The team could have flown home last night, but opted to stay in town and charter home this morning.

‘We talked about it in (August and September),’ said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. ‘Two schools of thought: If you take the red eye, you lose a whole night of sleep. Stay over and the guys have a little bit of bonding as a team — and hopefully get some level of rest. That was the discussion.’

The concern could be, of course, that guys have too much fun. Cassidy chooses to trust the players will behave.

‘They’re big boys,’ he said. ‘I’ll be sound asleep. I’m not doing the bed check.’”

— Stephen Harris, Boston Globe

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