Las Vegas Sun

March 25, 2019

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At jubilant fan celebration, Golden Knights show their love, which is mutual


Steve Marcus

Thousands of Vegas Golden Knights fans pack the Fremont Street Experience in front of the Third Street Stage for a final-season celebration in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

"Stick Salute to Vegas and Our Fans"

Vegas Golden Knights players, from left, Brayden McNabb (3), Jon Merrill (15), James Neal (18), Malcolm Subban (30), Reilly Smith (19), Cody Eakin (21), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41), Erik Haula (56), Nate Schmidt (88) and Alex Tuch (89), hold up hockey sticks during the team's Launch slideshow »

With a Golden Knights cap atop his ninja-like mustard-color costume, the boy pumped his hockey gloves in the air as the crowd roared, “Go Knights go!”

Before the Golden Knights brought professional hockey to Las Vegas, his family was not into sports at all, said the boy’s father, Denzil Gold.

On Wednesday evening, the father, his two boys and his little daughter, joined hundreds of fans — many likely with similar stories — to honor the team, or rather, for the Golden Knights to honor them during the “A Stick Salute to Vegas & Our Fans” event at the Fremont Street Experience.

One by one, players from the team, from Jonathan Marchessault to William Karlsson, were introduced to much fanfare and appeared center stage, throwing T-shirts into the crowd, which they directed with brief thank you messages.

“It’s the best place to be, by far,” said Shea Theodore about Las Vegas. “I love this city,” Erik Haula said.

An outburst of a team chant was so vociferous that General Manager George McPhee had to pause his message. “The best year of my life” is how he described his time so far in the valley.

The heat under the canopy was not a deterrent to the crowd, which by 5 p.m. — an hour before the event began — had already showed modestly. Most donning black and gold team merchandise, they danced and cheered. “Thank you Knights! Thank you Knights!”

To combat the heat, Gold had attached a fan to a stroller, trained on his toddler daughter who also wore a Golden Knights T-shirt.

By 6 p.m., it was difficult to walk through the crowd, which had grown substantially. The “Knight Line” walloped snare and bass drums and the always-smiling “Golden Aces” cheered along; Chance the mascot, doing Chance things.

The event came on the heels of a canceled win-or-lose possible parade that Clark County officials had began discussing before the Stanley Cup Final series wrapped up last week.

At the end of Wednesday's celebration, as a nod to their fans, the players lifted their hockey sticks in the air. After, they passed on the wooden sticks to lucky attendees in the crowd.

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