The wounds haven't healed, but the Knights are here to help
The Mandalay Bay is just a five-minute drive from T-Mobile Arena. One of the striking things about the resort -- even nine days after a mass shooting that thrust the hotel into the national spotlight -- is that it wasn't quiet. Vegas doesn't like to leave anyone alone with their thoughts. Pop music plays everywhere on the Strip, including the Mandalay Bay garage.
Inside, in the early afternoon before that first October 10 game, the hotel's sportsbook was littered with out-of-towners with trade show passes dangling from their necks and the small pieces of luggage at their feet. Most are there to grab a drink, waste time, and catch some baseball on the big screens. No one verbally acknowledged it, but they were all sitting 32 stories underneath a hotel suite that a madman had filled with a small arsenal of semi-automatic rifles and used to declare war on Las Vegas.
The tourists placing bets told me that, ahead of the game, the Golden Knights were a slight favorite over the Arizona Coyotes -- and "slight favorites" weren't really exciting bets to make. Still, a wager on the Vegas team seemed the right thing to do, even if you're from out of town. Two such visitors were Matt and his friend Larry. Matt was visiting for work and "in tune with Vegas Strong," even though he's from Denver, "so Avalanche first." He made a $120 parlay bet on the Golden Knights. His buddy Larry, who was tagging along for the trip, put $50 down on the Golden Knights to win by two.
Do they see Las Vegans rallying behind the Golden Knights? Yes, of course, but Matt also saw it the other way around. As he put it: "The team is rallying around the locals."
Matt might be onto something, especially if you were to ask Duke of the Golden Knights. He may be from Canada originally, but now he can pinpoint the moment he truly considered himself a Las Vegan, he said. "It's unfortunate to say, but it was after that Sunday evening," Duke said, and you know he's talking about the shooting. "To just be able to heal with everyone and recover with everyone, it brings you together and makes everything feel like home."
Like Las Vegas, the Golden Knights will continue to move forward. They will win, as they did against the Coyotes. They will also lose, sometimes, as they learned three days later in their game against the Detroit Red Wings. Either way, they'll do it hand in hand with the community they've injected with some hope. If you have doubts, come to church at the T-Mobile Arena. There's plenty of faith to go around.