By: Dino Bizzarro
The Golden Knights have not yet failed to surprise the hockey world.
First, they shock everyone by putting up 109 points and winning their division in their inaugural season.
Then, they further prove to everyone that they are real by running roughshod through their playoff competitors from the west.
Now, they have surprised us yet again.
They came into the Stanley Cup Final series matchup with the Capitals as favorites. They have home ice advantage and seemed the better side.
Now they face a 3-1 series deficit and it will be do or die for the remainder of their expansion season.
Still, Vegas might just do what they do. Shock everyone again.
No team has won the Stanley Cup after going down 3-1 since the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came all the way back from a 3-0 deficit against the Detroit Red Wings.
76 years later, we are looking at what could be the greatest story in hockey history.
The Golden Knights, in their first season of existence, made their presence known to the city of Las Vegas even before they dazzled them with their play on the ice.
October 1st, 2017 is a date that will never be forgotten in Las Vegas history.
The day that 58 tragically lost their lives while simply enjoying music in their hometown. A devastating 851 were also injured in the shooting that night.
As a Las Vegas native, a country music fan, and an American patriot, I felt the darkness that night brought over our city.
The city needed relief. It needed an uplifting. It needed hope.
All of which the Golden Knights provided to them.
The day after the shooting, defenseman Deryk Engelland and his wife brought food and drinks to a local fire station to help first responders who were understandably overwhelmed with their situation.
Golden Knights players went to local blood donation centers, where lines to give blood to aid victims were as long as six hours. They passed out bottles of water to those in line, posed for photos and signed autographs. They also visited local hospitals to comfort victims.
9 nights later, it’s October the 10th, the home opener for the Golden Knights. The team gave a heartfelt tribute to the victims. Pregame, Engelland, who has called Las Vegas home since 2002, addressed the crowd from center ice.
What he said brought chills and tears to the 18,000 looking down upon him.
“Like all of you, I’m proud to call Las Vegas home,” Engelland said. “I met my wife here. Our kids were born here. I know how special this city is. To all the brave first responders who have worked tirelessly and courageously through this whole tragedy, we thank you.”
“To the families and friends of the victims, we’ll do everything we can to help you and our city heal.”
He paused a moment to compose himself. Then he said, “We are Vegas Strong.”
The crowd shook T-Mobile arena with their roars.
The Golden Knights beat the Dallas Stars that night 2-1. Both goals were scored by forward James Neal.
Neal after the game said he had tickets to the concert where the shooting occurred, but he decided not to go because of an early morning skate scheduled the next day.
Neal said of the fans “Hopefully they tuned in tonight and we could put a smile on their face, because like you said, we’re playing for our city.”
Fast forward 9 months and the Golden Knights have brought as much healing as a professional sports team can possibly bring to a city.
A group of players that were called misfits and castaways have come together with chips on their shoulders and proved the entire hockey world wrong. Left unprotected by their teams during the expansion draft, Las Vegas offered the players hope- the players offered the city the same.
The records they’ve broken, the adversity they’ve overcome, the no-names they’ve shined light on… and still- they have yet another chance to shock the world.
The way this season has gone for Vegas, is it really that unlikely they pull of the unthinkable?
Washington Capitals @ Las Vegas Knights 8 PM on NBC
Author: Dino Bizzarro
Dino Bizzarro is a co-founder and editor-in-chief of YourWorld Media. He previously worked in both television and radio. In Sarasota, Florida, he starred in Game On Profiles, reporting on the top local high school athletes. During his internship with the National Journalism Center in 2017, he worked at Radio America where he co-produced the television show Behind the Curtain with host Jack Burkman. Within the last 2 years, he’s worked at WUFT in Gainesville, reporting and anchoring the local news. He is originally from Las Vegas and a rising senior at the University of Florida where he majors in telecommunications. He was also trained to wrestle by a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.